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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.

Mendip Rescue Organisation

In case of emergency telephone WELLS 73481.   BRISTOL EXPLORATION CLUB

Club Headquarters

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

Club Committee

Chairman:         S.J. Collins

Minutes Sec:     D. Turner

Members:          R. Bagshaw; W. Cooper; D.J. Irwin;

                        N. Jago; T.E. Large; P. Stobart;

                        A.R. Thomas

Officers Of The Club

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

Hon. Treasurer:  R.J. Bagshaw, 699 Wells Road, Knowle, Bristol 4.  Tel: WHITCHURCH. 5626.

Caving Sec:       T.E. Large, 39 Seymour Ave, Bishopston, Bristol.

Climbing Sec:    N. JAGO, 2 Broughton House, Somerset St., Redcliffe, Bristol 1.

Hut Warden:      D.J. IRWIN, Tonsend Cottage, Priddy, Wells, Somerset.

Hut Engineer:    P. STOBART, ‘Eriksay’, The Avenue, Coombe Down, Bath Som. Tel: COOMBE DOWN 7663.

Tacklemaster:    W. COOPER, 259 Wick Rd, Bristol BS4 4HE.  Tel: BRISTOL 77368.

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

Librarian:           D. SEARLE, Dolphin Cottage, Wells Rd., Priddy, Wells, Somerset.  Tel: WELLS 78748.

Publications:     D.J. IRWIN.  Address as above

B.B. Post:         Mrs. K. Mansfield, Tiny Kott, Little London, Oakhill, Bath, Somerset.



With this issue of the B.B., a start has been made towards transforming the B.E.C. journal into something which club members may eventually be able to take some pride in. A lot of discussion has been, and is still going on about such points as what size we can sensibly expect to maintain while giving members good value for their money and, in a wider context, just what the content of a typical B.B. ought to consist of.  If YOU have any bright ideas on any subject connected with the B.B., the editor or any member of the committee will gladly give your idea an airing.  Better still why not come to a committee meeting and tell us how you think the B.B. could be improved?  Ideas should, of course, be constructive.  It is of little use, for example, telling us that you would like to see more of a certain type of article unless you have some idea of how we might set about doing this.  It is hoped that, by the end of this year, we shall have a B.B. which will cater for most tastes, but it will be easier to do this if we know what YOU think about it.


Twenty Five Years Old

A quarter of a century, or a third of an average lifetime is sufficiently long span of time to warrant some form of acknowledgment.  We hope that the new form of the B.B. will gradually set a standard for the further improvements in contents and printing which hopefully will follow.

Belfry Matters

At least four sincerely held, yet conflicting points of view as to how we should organise the Belfry have been made known to your editor recently by their adherents.  What one might call the Caving Viewpoint says ' The Belfry is a caving hut, and all other activities must yield to caving’.  In contrast, the Social viewpoint says ‘ The B.E.C. is not just a caving club.  The good fellowship for which the club has always been noted should not be allowed to disappear, and life at the Belfry should encourage it.’

Then there is the economic viewpoint, which says ' The Belfry has cost a lot of money and is expensive to run and maintain.  Whatever else it may or may not do, its first job is to pay its way.’  Finally, there is the member's viewpoint, which says 'The Belfry was built by the club and for the club.  Club people should always get priority.'

We are not alone in finding problems connected with the ownership of a new headquarters building, and there is nothing to be ashamed of in admitting that such problems exist. It would even be odd if they did not. What we must do is to find some modus vivendi which satisfies the various viewpoints summarised above.  It would appear that the committee must do their sums and find out just how much the place costs and what return is necessary to pay for it - then some reasonable balance could be struck between the claims of members and the needs of visitors.  As for any conflicting claims between serious cavers and the mere social variety, there seems to be no real need, in these days of easy transport, to confine social activities to the weekend.  Why not a fortnightly Belfry social evening some time in the week? Participants could easily pay the day fee as well as chipping in for the drinks and thus help to make the Belfry pay and keep everybody happy.

The Irremovables?

Another theory which has come recently to the editorial ear says that there are committee members who, irrespective of performance or outlook, can never be removed to make way for more progressive types because they depend for their votes on older members who are equally out of touch.  On the face of it, this theory leaks plausible, but I wonder how true it really is? I can think of at least one occasion where a member of long standing and good past performance was voted off because the club - rightly or wrongly _ judged that he was no longer in a position to contribute his particular skills.  I can think of no time in which a member who was determined to do some job better than its holder was doing it, failed to get there fairly quickly.  On the ether hand, I can think of a number of occasions in which the new broom did a little quick sweeping and then failed to keep it up.  The motto for potential new brooms seems to be 'Show us what you can do, convince us, and then keep us that way.'



QUOTE…..During a discussion on Tim Large's report in the St. Cuthbert’s news sheet where he refers to some leaders as 'deawood', Norman Petty was heard to comment " All these leaders have been struck down with Dutch Elm Disease, I suppose."


Trip to the Berger

To most cavers, the Gouffre Berger will conjure up visions of vast expeditions with fantastic and detailed organisation.  This article by DAVE YEANDLE  shows how even this hole can be tackled in the Mendip manner.  Last summer I was fortunate enough to be invited trip to the Gouffre Berger.   Having heard of the wonders of this hole, I didn't hesitate in accepting.

The Berger was first bottomed in 1954 by the international expedition.   Since then, many parties have reached the sump which is about 3,700 feet below the entrance.  Diving has produced an extra twenty feet in depth and 300 feet in length.  The French have since really pushed the cave, the most important discovery being a mile of passage starting at the top of Hurricane Pitch (the last pitch!)  A large amount of passage has been found upstream of the main cave and a new entrance has been opened up.  The system is now some four miles long.  Most British expeditions to the Berger have been large and organised.  Ours was different - small and not really organised at all.

The trip, which was arranged by Tony Waltham, started as it as it was to go on, in an informal manner with people wandering over in ones and twos, but soon the party was assembled at La Molier, our campsite some three miles from the entrance.

The Berger starts as a normal sort of pot, rather like a dry Yorkshire SSP.  At around 700 feet down, the pot intercepts the Berger proper, and this descends more or less steadily to the sump.  On the first trip, Tony Waltham, Keith Turnbull (all Imperial college Caving Club and Happy Wanderers) Tony White (ULSA) and myself went to the top of Aldos shaft - 130 feet and the last pitch before the main passage.  Slight difficulty, mainly due to the large loads we were carrying, was found in the meanders, a set of rift passages starting after Cairn Hall.  The French have, however, installed a large number of wooden stemples and planks.  If one trusts them, the going is much easier. One man went down Aldos and all the tackle required to reach Camp 2 was lowered.

The next day, we set off for Camp 1 carrying our camping gear.  As far as I was concerned, the best part of that day was emerging into the main passage for the first time.  While I plodded off in the wrong direction, I seemed to be surrounded by blackness and very little else.  Progress downwards brought many more delights - the first Berger stal, Lake Cadoux, Little General Pitch and the Tyrolean.  The latter is most interesting as it can be compared (with a little use of imagination) to the well-known photograph of the rope traverse on Annapurna South Face - one must, of course, throw in a waterfall and a pool.

The next section, the Great Rubble Heap, turned out to be enormous and rather boulder strewn.  Many of the boulders were the size of a double-decker bus and the walls were often ‘lost’ for several minutes.  However, there was a vague sort of path which soon led us to Camp 1 suburbs and Camp 1 itself.  We were surprised to smell only rotten cloth in this area, we had been fearing the worst after seeing the state of the entrance series.  Perhaps we were lucky in being the first party of the season!

While we looked around the Hall of the Thirteen, which is very near to Camp 1, others took tackle to the top of the Balcony, the halfway point in depth.  This section of passage is simply too much. After the huge gour pools and thirty foot high pillars of the Hall of the Thirteen.  We quickly descended, over alternate gours and boulder heaps.  The place was so clean and spacious that heavy loads did not seem to matter for we had found the perfect cave.

We soon cooked up our meal and went to bed.  We slept well and after waking up set off towards Camp 2.  After the Balcony (a sixty foot pitch) more splendid passage. Soon, another pitch was reached, a pleasant sloping one, on stal, and clean because a small stream trickled down it, The main stream was now reached and with it, a couple of canals.  These we passed in our boat, just as we had done with Lake Cadoux. These canals were quite narrow and approximately 400 feet in length.  From this point onwards, the cave was really wet, a few short pitches usually followed by annoying little pools were spread out along a smaller then usual (for the Berger!) rift passage.  Soon, the top of Claudine's Cascade was reached a really draughty exposed spot with hardly anywhere to belay.  A pole traverse followed by an impressive sixty foot pitch took us into a pool of large proportions and medium depth.  A little later, a short traverse and pitch brought us to the top of the Grand Canyon - the site of Camp 2.  We were at last out of the water and draught, dramatically so in fact, as the route traversed round the side of the passage some hundred feet above the stream,

Four hundred feet in depth later, we were at Camp 3.  We had a quick look down the streamway from the top of Baches Pitch (sixty feet) and while gazing down, we wondered id we were to go further.  We certainly weren’t that day, so off we went back to Camp 1, a very sporting trip when unladen.  The next day we went out and the day after that we waited for our reinforcements.  They arrived, and the following day Dave Brook, Alan Brook, Dave Headley (three more ULSA’s) Dave? and Martin? (I never learned their second names!) Tony White, Tony Waltham, Roger, Keith and myself set off on a photographic orgy.

After a night in Camp 1, everybody except a party of five sump seeking ULSA cavers, went out.  The trip to Camp 3 was like a speleological silent film than a Berger bottoming ¬expedition.  The food bag containing nearly all our rations was lost and found twice - once in a small pool and then in a large one (the pool at the bottom of Claudine’s).  After such a carry-on, the Berger must have had the best laugh it had had since it was dived by another lot of mad Englishmen.  To cap everything, we realised that we had overestimated the ladder required by two hundred feet and underestimated the rope by about a hundred feet.  One man stayed in Camp 3, leaving four heading towards the sump.  Baches was easy and dry, soon followed by a horrid pitch of about thirty feet.  The ladder was belayed to a dubious chock stone, reached by an exposed traverse and the ladder went between two waterfalls into a nasty deep pool.

Sooner or later, we reached the top of the Grand Cascade (65').  The water plunged straight down.  Even with the ladder belayed on the left to a belt, it looked desperate. Half way down was a small ledge with the water landing on it.  The effect was rather like a rough sea.  The descent to the stream was impressive.  All the way down I kept expecting to swing suddenly into the full force of the water and have to fight for breath and to stay on the ladder.  It never happened.  The worst part was the last ten feet.  At one point just below the ledge, I turned round and saw the main waterfall less than two feet away.  Nobody had wanted to do this pitch free or with a self life¬line, so we had to face the fact that we couldn't reach the sump.  We went to the top of Little Monkey, which is the last, but one pitch and 900 metres down.  This part of the cave turned out to be a super version of Penyghent.  There is even a hands and knees crawl (a proper one!). By now we had developed a great deal of respect for the French, who had explored the series above Harrison Pitch - we hadn't even reached their starting point!

Now the work began, as it always must, to regain the surface.  Quick progress was made to Camp 3, partly because there is no escape from the Berger wind until one is above Baches.  After a large feed, we set off for the Grand Canyon.  This was an experience not easy to forget.  We were starting to get tired, but hadn't reached the mechanical stage. Each person had two large rolls of ladder and some rope.  Progress was made as follows.  ‘Move ladder on left.  Move ladder on right.  Move feet. Decide that next bit is too steep. Move ladder on left…’

After the next pitch we were moving well.  A surprisingly short time later, we were all at the start of the canals.  Everybody was cold and falling asleep and this was due, no doubt, to the numerous short immersions when even wetsuits were not enough. The tackle was taken to the bottom of the next pitch, so that everybody and everything was above the sections liable to flooding.  And so to Camp 1 and sleep.  We had been away for twenty one hours.  Seven hours later, we were back down to where we had left the tackle.  We had to hurry, as Tony Waltham and his car had to leave for England very shortly and the tackle was to go with him. By now, we were moving a mountain.  Even so, people seemed quite happy with their lot and we progressed well.

At the top of the Balcony, somebody mentioned that we were halfway out.  I now felt a little like a slave who must for ever carry increasing loads up an endless succession of pitches, with only the occasional reward like a bit of sleep or a Mars bar.  Then something happened that changed us back into a happy band of trogs leaping around a cave.  We saw some lights – thousands of them – heading down the passage  towards us at a tremendous rate.  We had been vaguely expecting some sort of help in de-tackling, but all the same, we were relieved to have it in reality.  Behind those lights were Roger Graham (M.U.S.S.) Mark Rogers (ULSA) Ian Plant, Jeff Yeadon and someone else, all of the Kendall Caving Club.  Camp 1 was reached very quickly, where we all celebrated.  The Kendal lads took some photographs on Kodachrome II and P.F.1 flashbulbs.  Everybody was in a jovial frame of mind.

Next, we all went up to the bottom of Aldos carrying all the tackle.  The five old hands - as we now started to think of ourselves - returned to Camp 1 while the rest went out with the tackle.  They surfaced at eight in the morning after twenty hour trip.

The next day, we left the cave.  The trip out was tremendous.  Everybody turned out to help, time seemed to fly and tackle whizzed up pitches at an unbelievable speed.  Dave? spent the day at the top of the first underground pitch.  This boring task didn’t seem stop him hurling abuse at all who passed, and allowing nobody to climb the pitch (we were all hauled up.) The atmosphere was great.

As I neared the entrance, I started to feel almost sorry to be going out.  The cave now seemed very friendly and back outside were all sorts of torments like insects, cows and rain.  However, the thought of food and wine was most tempting.  Anyway, it wasn’t raining.  In fact, we surfaced in to one of the clearest nights that I have ever seen.  The sky was full of stars with the Milky Way in full view.


Leaders Meeting

The main topic at the recent Leaders' Meeting was the preservation of Cuthbert’s.  It has been observed that several sites of stalagmite and mud formations have been destroyed and/or disfigured, even though there is a leaders system in operation.

Particular cases of this are the white stal flows in the Rabbit Warren Extension which have been obviously crossed by someone,  who has left a mud trail behind, completely ruining the flow.  The white flows at the lower end of Rabbit Warren Extension have also suffered the same treatment and the curtain and stal. flow also in the Rabbit Warren Extension.  Flows above Chain Chamber and the dry gours just beyond have all suffered.  The mud formations and cave pearls in Lower Mud Hall have been damaged, but the worst site of all has been in Erratic Chamber. This is the passage that has been known for many years to connect Rabbit Warren Extension with the top of Struggle Passage, but the way was barred by many straws  and helictites.  Somebody has forced their way through, doing irreparable damage.

There are other sites where the tale is the same and unless immediate action is taken it appears that more formations will be damaged.  We discussed many suggestions ranging from closing the cave to discouraging tourist parties from particularly vulnerable areas of the cave.  One line of action, already taken by the leaders - that of taping the formations, notably in September Chamber, has resulted in no damage being reported in that area.  It was decided to take the following action: - 1. To tape every vulnerable area and also to build small walls and mark out paths through areas of formations so that there can be no question of anyone not knowing where to tread.  2. Some form of reference system, so that anyone can consult a list that will tell them where; particular passages where there are vulnerable formations go, so that they do not need to force any passages unnecessarily.  3. To restrict parties in some areas of the cave to not more than three, particularly in Rabbit Warren Extension and Curtain Chamber.  4. To remind leaders that they have a responsibility not only for the safety of their parties, but towards the cave itself, and 5, To attempt to clean up some of the formations that will permit this treatment and to repair formations if possible.  The leaders also intend to review the prospective leaders test to see if it is still adequate.

FIXED TACKLE.  It has been six months since the items of fixed tackle were removed.  At the meeting it was decided to replace the ladders on the Ledge Pitches but to leave all the ether sites as they are now.

MAYPOLE SERIES.  The fixed tackle in this section of the cave is in need of repair and replacement and so it was agreed that several improvements could be made during the repair work.  These are to be carried out as soon as possible.  The short belay at the head of Pulley Pitch needs replacing, but otherwise the pitch is O.K.  The nylon line on this pitch is only for pulling up a rope and not for belaying. The Maypole fixed ladder is to be replaced by a pulley system similar to that in the Pulley Pitch.  The Upper Chain Pitch will have the chain removed and receive the same treatment.  The Lower Chain pitch will have the chain removed, but it has been decided not to replace it with any fixed aids as they are not necessary.  The pitch is easily free-climbable and the leader can fix a handline for any of his party who require one.  All this work will be carried out in the near future and the Ledge Pitch ladders have 'already been replaced.

SUMP 1.  This is at present open in all weather conditions as a flat out crawl in water with a 4 to 10 inch airspace.  There is no need to use the dams.

Tim Large


The Ian Dear Memorial Fund

As members will recall, the Ian Dear Memorial Fund is there to provide help for younger members to go on trips like that just described.  The Chairman of the Ian Dear Memorial Committee - 'SETT' (R.A. Setterington) supplies a timely reminder to young club members about the fund.

The late Ian Dear - a much respected and active member of the B. E. C. - in 1964 bequeathed a sum of £300 "To assist junior members of the B. E. C. to visit caving or climbing areas of the continent".  Since that date, monies have been managed by the Ian Dear Memorial Committee, meeting as required.  It has come as rather a surprise to this committee and to myself in particular that this fund has only been used twice in the last six years.

At a recent meeting of the fund committee, it was decided that the existence of the fund should be made more widely known.  The possibility of extending the terms of reference was also discussed, but this would have to be confirmed by the general club committee and possibly by an A.G.M.  We also discussed the likelihood of older members of the B.E.C. chaperones on trips already arranged by themselves.

As January is commonly the time when we start thinking summer holidays, now is the time to consider whether we, individually, might be eligible for a grant from the fund or would accept the job of advising or chaperoning a younger member.  Applicants will each be considered on individual merits, with initiative and originality being important.  As the terms of reference may well be changed, even if you are not sure whether you qualify – why not apply?  The Ian Dear Committee will decide.

Changes and Additions to Member’s Addresses

R.F. Bidmead.  41 Fishponds Rd, Eastville, Bristol BS5 6SE
J. Manchip. c/o Egan,16 Warrender Pk.Cres., Edinburgh EH9 1EA
N. Hallett. 73 Queensdown Gds, Brislington, Bristol 4.
N. Jago.  40, Mount Pleasant Terrace, Bedminster, Bristol 3.
P. Coles.  18 Cobthorn Way, Congresbury, Nr. Bristol.
N. Rich.  Ballochyle Estate,Sandbank, Dunoon, Argyllshire.
J. Bulger.  23 Ajax Close, Gt.Wyrley, Wallsall, WS6 6JU
R. Brooks.  5 Gordon Road, Clifton, Bristol 8.
J & M. Riley.  12 Lawlwy Place, Deakin, Canberra, Australia, ACT 2600
B. Smart.  c/o Beuin Hospital Site, Costain (W. Africa,) P. O. 28, Lagos, Nigeria.
P. Ifold.  The Cedars, Blackferd, Nr. Wedmore, Somerset.
J.M. Stafford, Bryher, Badgworth, Scmerset.
A.T. Williams.  Hendrew Farm, Llanderaied, Newport, Mon. NP6 2AB.
J. Ifold.  5 Rushgrove Gdns., Bishop Sutton, BS18 4XB.
Miss C. Salisbury, 59a Ashley Hill, Bristol 6.
Mrs. P. Rees, 10 Hawthorn Way, St. Ives Huntingdon.
S. Grime, Letterewe, Wester Ross, Scotland.

If YOU have recently changed your address, PLEASE let Alan Thomas have your new address so that we make sure you get the B.B.


Swildons Long Round Trip

For those cavers who cannot get to the Berger, GRAHAM PHIPPEN reminds members that Mendip offers some fine sporting caving, which he describes in this article .

Dick Pike, Tony Jarrett, Pete Moody and myself sucessful1y completed the 'Long round trip' on the 1st of October last.  To the best of my knowledge, this trip has not been attempted since the great floods of 1968, so it is worth article.

The trip can only be attempted one way because of the two sumps 'Grit' and 'Gloop' that have to be passed in the Damp Link.  For this reason, the twenty five foot Shatter Pot has to be laddered on the way in to make it climbable on the way out.  Having laddered Shatter you have the alternative of descending into the streamway via Blue Pencil Passage or going via the Troubles.  Blue Pencil will avoid sumps II and III, letting you into the stream in Swildons IV.

All of the party had free dived sumps II, III and IV a few days previous to this trip, and so the precise nature of these sumps was known to us at the time.  This being so we opted to go down via the Troubles and sumps II and III.  Weights were borrowed from the dump at II and left at IV to be returned, of course, by a party that weekend.

All the equipment we carried was hoods and facemasks in excess of standard rig, and these are easily slipped inside a wetsuit jacket.  The cave divers Tony and Dick remarked how pleasant it was to be able to stroll these farther reaches of Swildons without being weighted down with equipment.  Sumps II and III were both about thirty five feet long and wide and open.  IV was fifteen feet long and at that time free of excessive silting, making it quite an easy pass.  Sump V was a series of ducks at a time when conditions were dry. Local and recent advice from cave divers should be sought for sumps IV and V, as their nature is liable to change.

The 'Damp Link' is an inlet passage about thirty feet up the left bank of the streamway between V and VI. Shortly before the first sump, which is called ‘Gloop’, there are four siphon tubes, only two of which work. They can quite easily be started with a little judicious sucking.  Space all through the damp link is rather limited.  This being so, baling Gloop is rather difficult but can be achieved by two people.  If one person stands as best he can in the sump, he can pass the bucket to the second person, who will be lying on his back and endeavouring to push the bucket between the passage roof and his body - no doubt piling half the contents all over his face and chest while throwing the rest over his legs and down the cave. The process is cold, and I had a bad case of cramp from lying prone in such a position for the length of time required.  There is, of course, a happier alternative which we did not think of until afterwards. That is, to start the siphons and then disappear for an hour until the siphons stop working.  We found that siphons stopped working when there was just sufficient air space - or rather lip space- to ease oneself through. Should you decide to hurry up the proceedings by baling, then you will have to procure a bucket from somewhere.

Once past Gloop, a tight and narrow passage leads upward for about a hundred and fifty feet to the second sump, which is called ‘Grit’.  This sump, shallower than Gloop, has to be baled out as dry as possible to allow passage through what then becomes a tight, right-angled squeeze.  I spent several minutes trying to extricate my legs from this squeeze without dislocating any joints - but then I am longer than the average caver, who should have no such problem.

The water from Grit refills Gloop.  It was here that the party was most worried, for the air is rumoured to be bad and the baling of Grit was said to cut off effectively any retreat back through Gloop. A party has been through the Damp Link since our trip.  They left one of their team on the safe side of Gloop after siphoning it, while the rest passed through and baled out Grit.  The intention was that he should re-start the siphons on Gloop after Grit had baled, so that they had a way of retreat should this be necessary. However, he was unable to re-start the siphons, as Gloop did not fill up sufficiently.  Thus, he able to pass through Gloop - not without discomfort - aft¬er Grit had been baled.  This must surely add to the confidence of any future party through the Damp Link.  Our other anxiety, that of foul air, was not the problem we all expecting.  There is considerable length of passage between the two sumps, and when we entered, the air smelt quite fresh.  We were all breathing heavily through our exertion but did not at any time have sort of experience with foul air.  It must be remembered, though that we were the first party through, for possibly three years.  When both sumps are full, this length of passage is probably a closed system and any accumulation of foul air might not disperse.  The air might easily deteriorate if many parties go through at short time intervals.   I have not spoken to any of the previous people, although it should be interesting to hear their reasons for suspecting the presence of carbon dioxide.

There are already four buckets for baling Grit, and there is a danger, if any more accumulate, of having to negotiate a plastic bucket ruckle, making the trip both foolhardy and dangerous.

The tight and narrow passage of the Damp Link continues after Grit for approximately another hundred feet, and then opens up into the Shatter system.  We found in Shatter one duck which required baling, and this was easily effected with a helmet.  A pleasant wetting after our exertions, with ample lip space - if you don’t talk on the way through - and of course a detailed serrating of stal rock.  There was plenty of room in the Static Pool.  I do not think that this fills, but should be interested to learn from anyone if this is correct. We concluded the trip by climbing Shatter, which we had previously laddered and then came smartly out the normal way.

In all, we took six hours, two of which were spent in passing the Damp Link.  We all thoroughly enjoyed the trip; a very great degree of teamwork was required and admirably achieved - credit to Dick Pike for being the capable leader he is.


In Committee

An occasional review of the activities of the club committee

The traditional committee meeting held the day after the A.G.M. last October saw the usual business of allocating club officers for the year and starting to deal with the items wished onto the committee by the A.G.M.  As a matter of general policy, the committee agreed to sort out the entire tackle situation, to keep a detailed eye on the operation of the Belfry and to tighten up somewhat drastically on club membership.

In addition to these items, and the usual crop of minor business, the committee has spent some time on two items of major importance, those of the acquisition of additional land and relationships between us and our more immediate neighbours - both of which may well take some time yet before they are completed.

In the main, problems connected with the Belfry continues to dominate the committee business problems like the renovation of the toilets; sorting out a more sensible hot water system and re-roofing the stone Belfry.  The library installation and cataloguing continues to make steady but slow progress.

The Chairman's invitation to club members to attend the committee meetings was taken up in January, which meeting had several knotty problems connected with the Belfry and the B.B. to discuss.  At one stage, the 'audience' having been given their head by the chairman, fell to disagreeing amongst themselves, thus proving that there are usually two sides to every question and that the job of taking the decisions is not as easy as it may appear from outside.

A belated bouquet to last years committee, who managed to clear up 67 items of business out of a total of 72 which came their way during their year of office.

Just a Sec

Notes from our Hon. Sec. augmented here and there by the Editor.

At the annual meting of the National Caving Association which I attended at Whernside Manor on the 30th October last, there was a great body of agreement between the delegates than in former years.  In fact, the final differences between the Southern Council and the Cambrian Council were settled by goodwill on both sides, and the N.C.A. now has a constitution and can act as the official national body in its dealings with the sports council.

It is refreshing to hear that the C.D.G. still tries to keep out of caving politics, so that Oliver Lloyd, as Diving Group representative, abstained from voting on several matters which he had proposed as Southern Council representative.

It was interesting to learn that an education committee had appointed as its chief caving instructor a man who it knew had never been caving.

A meeting was held recently at Upper Pitts of the Southern Council working party on conservations and access.  Its report, which will be presented to the next Southern Council meeting, is now ready.

Incidentally, at the meeting I was somewhat surprised to learn that somebody who recently enquired about joining the B.E.C. found the answer offensive and swelled the ranks of the Severn Valley instead.  I have long known that we have a national reputation for unsociability, but in this instance I wonder who they wrote to, and who bothered to answer!  I have a duplicated screed telling them how good we are which I send to prospective members and which has been closely scrutinised to avoid giving offence.

A reminder to members that Richard Kenney will be giving his slide show on Antarctica at the Belfry on February the 19th.  The slides are particularly interesting, and the fantastic clarity of the air in Antarctica gives them a sharpness of definition which has to he seen.  Time of the show is 7.30, giving adequate time at the Hunters afterward for those who don't want to miss their regular pint.

Look out for the publication by the B.E.C. in the near future of  'Mendip's Vanishing Grottoes'  This book, containing between 45 and 50 photographs of beautiful but now extinct cave formations, is saddle stitched and printed by the offset litho process. It will be sold to members at 30p (6/-) for the FIRST MONTH ONLY when it will revert to its proper price of 40p (8/-).

Congratulations to Bob and Lyn White on the birth of a daughter - Rosalyn Jane.

Dave Irwin's address will shortly be ‘Townsend Cottage, Priddy, Wells, Somerset’ as he is buying Steve Wynne-Robert’s cottage. Likewise, please note Nigel Jago's change of address which is given on page 6 of this B.B. and is NOT as printed on page 1!

Please have you any library books or other printed matter belonging to the club?  The librarian is doing• his best to sort out the collection now that it has been moved to the Belfry.  Keys are held by the Hut Warden, the Librarian and myself.

Congratulations to Mr. Tim Pardoe who is now Dr. Tim Pardoe.

George Honey has sent a Christmas card from Droppsta in Sweden (his address in last November's B. B.) and says that any cavers or climbers are welcome for skiing/walking/boozing/wenching. His card shows his house at Droppsta, which is a wooden house about Belfry size and which he refers to on the card as Belfry No 2.

Jill Tuck reports that George Boon of the National Museum Wales is doing a long article on two sites of Roman forges, one of which is Roman Mine and the other White Woman’s Hole in Asham Wood.  The article is for Proc. U.B.S.S.  Jill say that Norman and herself have seen the draft copy, in which the author says nice things about the Roman Mine excavation being amazed at the fact that the hearth site was excavated in complete darkness.


A long weekend in Langdale

By Alan Tringham

Now that there is a motorway from Gloucester to Kendal, it is no longer such a journey to get to the Lake District. The only necessity is a co-driver to share the monotony of a straight road late at night.

The first night at the campsite was uneventful, apart from a manoeuvring car colliding with my van, and disturbing the slumbering occupant.  The morning was cloudy, so we decided on a look at Pavey Arc - a big rambling cliff above Stickle Tarn.  On passing the new Dungeon Ghyll hotel, a shower of rain sent us scurrying for the bar and a pint of mild.

Two hours later saw us at the bottom of Cock's Tour - a 300 V.Diff. reached by 200' of scrambling above Stickle Tarn.  This is a rather rambling route but with some very inter¬esting individual pitches and a good feeling of exposure down to the tarn below.  The best pitches were the second which was a narrow slab requiring an easy hand jam to start followed by several delicate moves on polished holes before a runner could be put in.  The sixth pitch was also quite memorable, being a hand traverse where a good runner could be fixed and ten feet up a diagonal crack before a large ledge was reached.

The rest of the climb was up easier slabs which gradually lay back towards the summit.  This we reached to be met by the rest of the party, including my brother David, who had scrambled up Jack's Rake - an enjoyable moderate.  By this time the weather had improved so we finished the trip by walking round to Harrison Stickle and descending the track past Dungeon Ghyll.

Both the Friday and Saturday evenings were spent pleasantly in the bar of the old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel. We were somewhat alarmed at the price of Tartan bitter until we found that they had included a 5p deposit on the glasses.

We spent the next day in similar fashion climbing Bowfell Buttress.  This is a classic route high up on Bowfell, rather similar to a Tryfan buttress, but more continually steep and interesting.  It is only grade Hard Diff., but some sections are very polished, and are more like Hard V. Diff., although well protected.  Some local hard men we met in the pub had made an ascent on a wet January day and found it more like hard very severe.  The chief drawback is the two hour approach march, but at the top of the climb, you are just about on the summit of Bowfell.  You can return over this and down to the Band, which has a good track down to the site.

The last day being fine, we thought we had better take a look at Gimmer Crag, as it is the best known in Langdale.  This also entails a fair slog up to the base of the cliff.   We found that, as in North Wales, 'best known' also means queues at the bottom of all the more popular climbs.  We eventually got started on 'B' route, a mild severe, which we found rather easy apart from a short gritstone type layback problem called Amen Corner.  Here, we assisted a party of three North Country girls, who were plopping off about ten feet up with monotonous regularity. A male shoulder proved to be the answer to the problem.

We found this route rather less interesting than our previous climbs, but hope to return to try our luck on one of the harder routes on the Ulent face, which appears to be a lot steeper and more continuous.

Letter To The Editor

38, Paultow Rd,

Dear Alfie,

Several people recently were suggesting that the Belfry was under used, and I was wondering if the following suggestions might be worthwhile.  I know that these ideas are not exactly new, as several people have been talking in a similar way for some time, but since nothing seems to have happened except talk, it might be worthwhile to set them out on paper.

Either on a Friday night or a Saturday night, some slide shows or talks could be arranged, with wide publicity.   I am thinking in terms of university type programmes sent by post to interested people outside the club, and even possibly advertisements in the local papers. I’m sure that there are plenty of people who could lead discussions that would be worthwhile on all kinds of caving or climbing topics.  It would seem to be that the Belfry would be a far better choice than, say, Priddy Hall or the Hunters back room.  If things go well, guests could be invited from other bodies might give talks of more general interest, like the Somerset Archaeological Society; Mendip Society; Bristol Naturalist Society etc.  This would have to be next winter, after trials this winter have shown what support we could count on.

Some talks might be expected to attract a large audience while others might only attract two or three.  This should not matter as long as the lecturer is good and keen to pass on knowledge.

I think it only fair to back up this suggestion with an offer to take part in a series of talks on aspects of surveying; cave chemistry; hydrology; water analysis etc. Do readers think that this is a reasonable suggestion?

Roger Stenner.


Monthly Crossword – Number 18



















































































1. Many current measurements give light. (5)
6. Southern Cricket Club on Mendip? (1,1,1,1)
7. Rhino Wire Etc.? (5)
9. Lead this on Mendip once. (3)
11. Cuthbert’s series carboniferous without heart. (5)
12. Everyone at end of 4 down. (3)
14. Held back by 16. (5)
16. They hold 14 in caves or outside them. (5)
17. Hunters full or unstable road I tread. (4)


2. Working in underground road I tread. (4)
3. Choose a cave differently. (3)
4. Tiny, but includes everyone in the end. (5)
5. Angular adjective. (5)
8. Not for clutching!  Especially the last! (5)
10. Cave floor description in Lancs. Yorks. (5)
11. This beheaded is used to do this. (5)
13. 7 across turned through a right angle in home, cave or garden. (4)
15. Lacking in sumps. (3)

Solution To Last Month’s Crossword



















































































Hon. Sec: A.R. Thomas. Allens House, Nine Barrows Lane, Priddy, Wells, Somerset.
Hon. Editor: - S.J. Collins, Lavender Cottage, Bishop Sutton, Bristol

Opinions expressed in all articles except those coming from the committee as a whole do not necessarily reflect club policy.


Festive Season

As usual, we try to produce a bigger version of the B.B. for Christmas.  This year has not been a vintage year for the B.B., but we hope that it may not fizzle out too badly with this issue.

Again, as usual, we concentrated more on the lighter side for the Christmas issue.  The B.B. Literary Historic and Scientific Report – thinly disguised a Alfie- is with us again – this year with a romance,  ‘Jok’ is also with us again, his venue has moved from Scotland to North Wales.  We are also publishing a story by John Letheren, of the M.N.R.C., in the style of a well known caving writer.  Plus, of course, articles on the more usual forms of caving, climbing, etc.

Next year, the B.B. changes its shape, cover, layout and (dare we predict) amount of reading matter per month.  See you in a new guise next month, and meanwhile, a very Merry Christmas.

M.C.R. – R.I.P.?

A rumour recently reached us to the effect that the Mendip Cave Registry has ‘just about packed up’. If true, this seems a great pity. Hywel Murrell had the original idea of collecting every known reference to Mendip caves and arranging for these to be kept up to date and systematically filed.  Copies of the Registry are lodged in Bristol and Wells Public Libraries, where it was hoped that they would form a useful source of information for research purposes.  We believe, for example, that the registry contains over six feet of typewritten references to Swildons Hole alone – an invaluable starting point for any future historian who might wish to record the story of its exploration and, more to the point, get it right!

The work of the Registry is, by its nature, unspectacular and also unrewarding, except perhaps for the satisfaction of knowing that the record is being preserved for the future. If the rumour of its impending death is true, it would be nice to think that some young caver might fill the gap and taken it on – even nicer if he was a member of the B.E.C.!


The up to date list of members addresses published in the November B.B. will be kept up to date during the coming year by publishing new member’s addresses and old member’s corrections in each B.B.  Thus, every member will have access to the latest available information.  A complete list will still be printed in November next. By this method, it is hoped that addresses will not go astray and that the postal department will be kept informed of all changes of address.


Elsewhere in this issue, some of the changes scheduled for next year are mentioned.  A further useful change will be the publications of all events in the form of a monthly diary.  This will be taken from the ‘What’s On?’ notice which Belfry regulars will by now be familiar with.  If YOU get to hear of anything in the future which you think will interest club members see Dave Irwin and put it in the ‘What’s On?’ notice in the Belfry.  It will then automatically get printed in the B.B.


It is rumoured that some members express, from time to time, a degree of dissatisfaction with the way in which club officers and the club committee run the affairs of the club. We say rightly that it is rumoured, since there have been no complaints.  If there is any basis in this tale, then it must be pointed out that constructive comment is always welcome.  Our committee meetings are – in general – open to all members.  Why not come along and put your problem to the committee or give your advice?  After all, we do pride ourselves on being a democratic body.  You might even found yourself running something!




Caving Publications

All the following items are available from Dave Irwin at the Belfry or at 8 Radnor Road, Westbury-on-Trim, Bristol.

Caving Reports



No. 13






No. 15

Headwear and Lighting, 70pp, P.G.  Available late Jan 72.

Smaller Caves of Mendip Vol. 1.  (Includes Hunters)  G.

St. Cuthbert’s Swallet: -

Part A.  Discovery and Exploration.  38pp. O.P.

Part E.  Rabbit Warren.  20pp, O.P.S.

Part F.  Gour Hall Area.  14pp.  O.P.S.

Part H.  Rabbit Warren Extension.  12pp.  O.P.S.

Part I.  September series.  12pp.  O.P.S.  (Jan 1972)

Roman Mine.  50pp.  O.P.S. and many line illustrations.










                     Copies of ‘Reflections’ (Alfie’s Spaeleodes) still around at 50p.






Ubley Warren Pot (dyeline) 30” x 15”

East Twin (O)

Avelines (O)

Marble Steps (O)

Rumbling (O)

Leck Fell (inc. Lost Johns) 48” x 24” (O)

Notts Pot (inc. recent discoveries) 36” x 24” (O)








Other surveys including Swildons, Longwood, Stoke Lane, Eastwater, available during January 1972.

Abbreviations used above S=Survey.  O=Offset. G=Gestetner.  P=Photos.

STOP PRESS:  Two new reports are in the pipeline and will be available shortly.  No. 14 – Roy Bennett’s account of the 1970 club visit to the Pyrenees. (15p) and No. 16 – John Eatough’s Balch Cave collection of photographs with some of Roy Pearce’s Shatter Cave. (30p).



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

Introductory Note:  Inn the dim recesses of a Mendip pub, a group of old men were desperately trying to flog what was left of their brains.  Cooking bitter was flowing like water.  The Belfry Bulletin Literary, Historic and Scientific Research Group were having an emergency meeting.  They had agreed, in view of their recent research programmes that the subject for this year should be a literary one.  Pilot research scheme had failed to find any undiscovered bits of Shakespeare mentioning the B.E.C.  They sat there, crying tears of bafflement into their beer which threatened to reduce its gravity below that required by law to be sold in a public house.  At last, a young caver who happened to be listening made a suggestion.  “Why not, “he said,” write a romance.

The old men looked at each other, trying hard to remember what a romance was.  In the end, they said that they doubted if there was any caving romance which they could unearth with their researches.  “To hell with research!” the young caver said.  “Why don’t you just WRITE one?”  The old men pondered.  They agreed that it should be possible in theory at any rate.  It was, at least, and idea which was more than they had had to date.  At length they said that they would have a go, and it is with considerable trepidation that they present the following story for your Christmas entertainment.

The Last Tour de Mendip


At three minutes past seven on a lovely summer morning, Cora Cavepearl – the toast of cavers from Banwell to Bottlehead – opened her beautiful eyes and gazed through her bedroom window at the general scenery beyond.

Finding this to her satisfaction, she moved her shapely limbs into a more comfortable position and fell to musing.  Today was, of course, the great day in the Mendip calendar – the start of the fearsome Tour de Mendip – and she wondered if she had been a silly girl in promising to marry the winner.  On the whole, she was inclined to think not.  Harold Hardman would almost certainly win, and she found this chunk of manhood suitable attractive.  True, he had remarkably little brain, but that need be no disadvantage.   One brain in the family, Cora felt, was quite enough providing that the brain was hers.

It was, or course, just possible that Hardman might be beaten by the Yorkshire contender, Arthur Appentwill.  Arthur had, after all, won the Five Pots Race twice in succession. Although not so handsome as Hardman, he was a great rugged creature and the fact that he possessed even less brain than Hardman, she dismissed with a toss of her lovely head.

At seven minutes passed seven, Hardman woke up; leaped out of bed flexing his magnificent muscles; did a dozen press ups; took a cold shower and went off in search of breakfast (having, you will note, not dressed – it’s dead easy for us authors to slip up on little details like this!).  There is little point in attempting to describe Hardman’s thought except to say that he had a vague idea that he would win both the race and Cora.

Some two minutes later, another drip of water wore another bit away from a certain boulder in a cave, which was now approaching a condition of instability.

At half past seven, Percy Potterer woke up and realised that this was the day of the start of the Tour de Mendip.  Although a young man, Percy was a caver of the old type.  He had read about the days when cavers just messed about in caves – before the hard sporting types, tiring of normal trips, has introduced cave racing. This year, the Southern Council had finally banned all types of caving other than racing, which was why Percy had reluctantly entered for the Tour de Mendip.

There was another reason, as Percy admitted to himself with a grin.  He had been in love with Cora Cavepearl ever since she had first come to Mendip, but she had eyes only for the glamorous racing men.  Still, she said that she would marry the winner of the Tour de Mendip this year and Percy had a simple faith in the old way of doing things.


By ten o’clock that morning, a great crowd had gathered outside Stoke Lane Slocker, which was the first cave in the race.  Bookmaker’s stands were doing brisk business, and Cora herself had bets on Hardman and Appentwill at the stand of Honest Bob Bagshaw.  A hush fell on the great crowd and the contestants arrived.  One by one they came up to the staring line.  Their rock suits – those incredibly tough plastic suits which enabled them to absorbed blows against sharp rock as they caved at high speed – were covered with proficiency badges and medals of past races won; their sleek speed hats had lamps a gleam in the sunlight and their tacky boots, which could maintain an incredible grip on any surface, were adorned with the foot jets which they could use to leap up small pitches or do a forty foot chimney in two moves.  There was a particularly loud cheer as Hardman took his stand on the line, and an almost equal one for Appentwill from hundreds of visiting Yorkshire throats.

Cora looked at her two heroes, who stood out even amongst that galaxy of caving talent, and felt a thrill of pride.  Suddenly she heard scornful laughter and saw the last contender, Potterer, arrive at the start.  He wore an old fashioned caving hat, of the sort you could see only in museums. Ancient cast-off clothes enveloped his body and in his hand, incredibly, was a candle.  A single badge had been apologetically sewn to his outer sweater – that of the Basic Caving Proficiency Certificate, giving him the minimum qualification for this open race.

The starter’s pistol rang out and they were off!  There was a gasp from the crowd as the tattered figure of Potterer – not encumbered with heavy gear for this cave – took the lead and reached the entrance first. Once in the crawls, however, Potterer took his time as the thought of being underground again gave him that familiar relaxed feeling.  In vain the hard speedsters tried to overtake him in those narrow tubes, but were forced to cave at his strange, leisurely pace.  It was  a favourite trick of cave racing on the odd occasion when one got close enough to the man in front, to attempt to melt his tacky boot soles, thus making them completely slippery.  The chance to do this occurred but rarely except on this particular trip, when every body had all the time in the world to make good use of it.  The only bloke impervious to this treatment was Potterer himself, whose ancient ammunition boots with their well worn hobnails stubbornly refused to melt – not being made of plastic.

At Cairn Chamber, Potterer was finally overtaken by a frustrated mob who nerves were worn to shreds and whose judgment had gone for a complete chop.  Bods, using their foot jets, hurl themselves through the duck – where many collided with each other and the rock face – to be washed unconscious through the sump.  Potterer took a careful sight on the sump, extinguished his candle, dived it and re-lit his candle.  A scene of utter chaos greeted him as he watched those who survived the crush at the duck and sump.  Their footwear was now so slippery that they could hardly stand up and everywhere, bods were trying to get some kind of grip, and were at last forced to crawl down the stream route while Potterer wandered happily round the Throne Room, taking a few photographs of such formations as had survived.

The crowd who had gathered around the exit from Stoke – the one that had been dug into Bone Chamber as part of the abortive attempt to make it into a show cave – was in a restless mood. The usual time for this first leg of the Tour de Mendip was just under 30 minutes, and over an hour had gone by without anyone appearing.  Judges muttered to each other; bookmakers wore their most guileless expressions and timekeepers nervously fiddled with their stop watches.  At 11.40, Hardman emerged hardly able to stand up.  At 11.42, Appentwill crawled out of the exit. At various intervals, six more men, the pride of their various clubs, staggered out, clutching each other for support.  At exactly twelve noon Potterer came out; took a good breath of fresh air and ran smartly to the finishing line to finish 9th in a field of over fifty. No more men came out after him. The Judges let a little more time go by and then signalled to the grim faced Rescue Marshals who went in to fetch out the injured – and possible dead.

In silence the nine suvivors were taken by special transport to the next leg of the Tour de Mendip – St. Cuthbert’s, for a leg to Sump I and back by any route.  This time the position was reversed.  All the other eight carried lightweight ropes; descendeurs; prussikers and grappling hooks for whatever pitches they planned to do. Potterer, on the other hand, had a huge bundle of wood and rope ladder for the entrance and Arête Pitches.  As they stood at the staring line, waiting for the pistol, Hardman sneered at Potterer, “I fancy you won’t be able to muck us all about this time!”

The crowd had, to some extent, recovered its spirits, and honest Bob Bagshaw was again doing brisk trade on the reduced field.  At the ‘off’, Hardman and Appentwill leapt into the lead.  Potterer was last into the hole.

Meanwhile, in far away G.B., another drip of water dissolved another small piece of rock, making a certain boulder that much less stable.

Once again, as soon as he found himself underground, Potterer let the peace of the place permeate his spirit and leisurely slung his first ladder down the Entrance Pitch.  By the time he had got down; sorted out his second ladder and re-lit his candle, the leaders had reached Sump I and were on their way back.  As Potterer prepared to lower his second ladder down Arête Pitch, he was greeted by the whistling sound of a well aimed grappling hook thrown from below by Appentwill, who had reached this spot on his way back.  The hook lodged securely amongst boulders beside Potterer, who was intrigued by the thinness of the line up which Appentwill was about to prussik. He leaned forward to examine it, bringing his candle nearer in order to see it properly.  To be fair, Potterer was not to know that the plastic which made such thin ropes possible was inflammable.  Appentwill was halfway up when the rope parted.  Luckily, his fall was broken by two other cavers who had just reached the spot.  Potterer tried to revive the three of them on his way down, but without success.

When Potterer finally emerged, with an aggregate time of 7 hours 3 minutes, it was to find himself placed fifth.  Hardman’s aggregate was 2 hours 12 minutes with the other three close behind.  Owing to the unprecedented long times taken so far, the judges announced that the day’s caving had now ended and that the next two legs – of Eastwater and Swildons – would have to be cancelled. The Tour de Mendip would be completed on the Sunday with the Rhino-August-Longwood through trip and finish with the traditional G.B.

The news of Appentwill’s accident was taken badly by the strong Yorkshire contingent, and in nearly all the Mendip pubs and huts that night vicious fights broke out as Mendip and Yorkshire cavers – inflamed with cooking bitter – beat each other senseless.

Cora Cavepearl was beside herself with worry.  She now felt that anything could happen.  If Hardman lost, the next most fancied contender – according to Honest Bob Bagsahw – was one Rodney Ratrun – a mean looking ferrety faced man with a horrible squint.  She shuddered and tried to get to sleep, hardly daring to think of the morrow.


The morrow of that momentous weekend dawned even finer than had the Saturday.  At ten o’clock, the five cavers – only survivors of that vast band of twenty four hours ago – assembled at the starting line outside Rhino. Hardman, Ratrun and the other two each carried a few hundred feet of line and descendeurs.  Beside Potterer stood a gigantic pile of four hundred feet of heavy and thick hemp rope.  The crowd sighed with relief and amusement.  Potterer would never be able to carry that pile to the entrance!

Once again the starter’s pistol rent the air.  The four dashed off, and so, to everyone’s surprise, did Potterer; carrying one end of the rope which uncoiled behind him.  While the others made fast to the prepared belays at the head of the drop, Potterer stood at the top, pulling in all of the rest of his rope until he had it all beside him, by which time the others were well down the hundred foot shaft.

Hardman and Ratrun had finished their descent, and had left their ropes behind while they race on down the connecting passage to August, bottoming Rhino at 10.12 and 10.14 respectively.  At 10.16, the other two, starting down the last pitch, were horrified to see the remainder of Potterer’s four hundred feet of hemp rope coming whistling down the pitch towards them.  It was the last thing that either of them saw for some time.  The next thing they saw was the interior of a hospital ward.

The crowd which had assembled at the entrance to Longwood – prepared for anything this time – were waiting quietly, mostly covered in bandages from the vicious fighting of the night before.  They were pleasantly surprised to see Hardman emerge in good time and good order.  A tremendous cheer – somewhat forced in the case of those who were suffering form cracked ribs – greeted the announcement that Hardman ahd completed this lap in 58 minutes – the first time that this lap had been covered in less than one hour.  Hardman’s aggregate time was now 3 hours 10 minutes with Ratrun a close second at 3 hours 29 minutes.

But the crowd grew restive again, as they were forced to wait for more than three hours before Potterer appeared.  It was rumoured that Potterer had been bribed by the Wessex to enter so as muck up the B.E.C. Another section of the crowd understood that he had been bribed by the Axbridge to muck up the Shepton.  Yet another faction believed that he had been hired by the M.C.G. to muck up everybody.  Murmurs grew to growls and growls to shouts and shouts to blows as fights btoke out everywhere.  Soon, people were hitting each other with reckless abandon.  B.E.C. clobbered B.E.C.  Wessex clobbered Wessex.  Everyone else clobbered each other.  When Potterer finally emerged, with an aggregate of 11 hours 18 minutes, only the judges and recorders noticed him do so.

Actually, there was one other person who noticed him.  Cora Cavepearl had felt, for some strange reason she could not explain, an urge to see Potterer come out of Longwood.  He smiled at her, unaccountably, she found herself smiling back.

At 2.13 pm, marshals had managed to clear a way through the prostrate forms of those fallen in the fighting to enable the transport to proceed to the last lap – G.B. to the bottom of the old cave and back.  This final lap was by way of being and easy last minute sprint and normally took less than half an hour, allowing for the normal exhaustion of the competitors at this stage.  Even though the organisers waited for some time for those who could still drive to get over to Gruffy Field to watch the start, it was a pitiable little cluster of people who watched the final line up.

At 4 o’clock, the three survivors lined up.  At 4.02, Ratrun burst into hysterical sobs and said he could not go on with this devilish race, and he was led away by two blokes in white coats.  At 4.06, Hardman and Potterer lined up once again.

At 4.07, the last drop of water dissolved the last bit of limestone off a certain rock in the cave, making it finally unstable.

At 4.08, the starter’s pistol jammed.

At 4.11, the two men finally ran for the entrance.

It was a close thing, but Hardman got there first.  Summoning all his cave technique, he rushed ahead of Potterer who, although he had entered the cave full of resolve to beat Hardman, once again felt that strange peace settle over him as he caved gently down to the Gorge.

Once at the head of the Gorge, just by the Bridge, Potterer was struck by the beauty of the scene, illuminated as it was by the light of the returning Hardman.  He set his old plate camera and, after a quick calculation, fired off a large charge of flash powder.

The rock which had been moving slowly towards instability happened to be the one in the roof that supported the well known sixteen foot stalactite, and the shock wave from the detonating flash powder provided the last impulse necessary to free it from the ceiling.  Nearly a quarter of a ton of stal – freed at last from the roof – hurtled straight downwards.  Some sixth sense warned Hardman of his plight and he tried to brake – too late.  The end of the stal missed his body, but ripped through his rock suit, pinning him to the floor.  If Hardman had been wearing old clothes like Potterer was, it would have been possible Potterer to free him.  As it was, their combined efforts were in vain.  Potterer promised to get help and began to make his way back to the surface – stopping only to look as some helictites which had somehow escaped the general racing damage of the last frantic years.


Apart from one judge and one timekeeper, there was nobody to greet Potterer as he finally stepped out of the entrance.  After an hours had gone by, the crowd had drifted away – fed up to the teeth of cave racing and everything connected with it.  The judge and timekeeper coldly pronounced Potterer to be the winner and then turned away, talking to each other about dinghy sailing; a sport which they seemed to think had some future to it.  A lone Rescue Warden went in to get Hardman out.

When he reached level ground, he saw that she had not gone.  She was sitting demurely of a gruff.  A girl of her word, she had begun to think that Potterer might conceivably have a point.  It was true that he had a better brain then she had, but on second thoughts, even this might have its advantages.  Potterer approached the gruff.  He sat down beside her.  He smiled. “If you would like to carry these spare candles and the tripod back to our motorbike” he said, “while I carry the plate camera and the flash powder tray, we will be able to talk better about starting caving again on more sensible lines after we come back from our honeymoon.”

Meekly, the beautiful Cora followed her man towards a less hectic future.


Caving in Switzerland

by ‘Mo’ Marriott.

Another year has sped by, and the long promised article for the B.B. has not materialised.  So on this particular evening, I have decided to make amends and finish the job in one long session.

Since the winter of 1968-1969, the accent on caving in our group in Winterhur has shifted somewhat. After several years of work on a number of shaft systems, our attention changed to more horizontal caves.  The reason for this could be the relatively slight rewards obtained from a great deal of effort on the deep caves.

The Ratikon area in the North east of Switzerland has been our main target for the past two years. This area borders on Austria and consists of a long ridge of massive limestones of cretaceous age.  The ridge is interesting because of the high altitude of the limestones, which have been thrust boldly over a great mass of younger shales, the contact line lying at about 1,900 metres (6,200 bft).  Much of the ridge stood above the glaciers and ice sheets during the last generation, and it is in this upper region that most of the caves occur.

A number of smaller caves have been known in the area since the eighteenth century.  The oldest references that we have found is a man by the name of Weber who apparently entered a particular cave only to be accused of being in league with the devil by the local clergy!  He suffered a rather warm death!  The cave still bears his name today.  However, apart from this, and the sparse visits paid by the various ‘classical’ explorers in the last century, very little has been done in this region.

The most interesting find was made during Whitsun 1969.  We had spent much of the day struggling through very soft and wet snow to get a closer look at some of the ‘obvious’ cave entrances on the steep upper slopes of the mountain (on the Swiss side of the ridge, these slopes merge into vertical walls).  Enthusiasm was ebbing fast when we decided to look at ‘Just one more’ promising looking rift. At first sight, it seemed as if this rift petered out into piles of frost shattered rock just like all the others, but at the back of the rift, a low crawl over shattered rock was found with a powerful draft blowing out.  We pushed ourselves into this passage as far as we could, but only after a few yards the by now tunnel like passage became almost filled to the roof by gravel.

A return was made some weeks later, and digging commenced.  The temperature of the air rushing out of the small passage was only just above freezing (we measured 0.60C) and we had to return to the hot sunshine at the entrance every hour or so to thaw out.  After several hours, a break through was made and the crawl continued, but about a hundred and fifty feet in, another digging session was required. This was rapidly accomplished, and the cave was open.  In contrast to the entrance passage, with its frost shattered walls and low crawls, the following passages were roomy with fine sculptured walls and very little rock waste on the floor.  Some of the wall scallops are the biggest I have ever seen, up to three feet across. The passages are almost entirely phreatic and are in places very big (about twenty feet in diameter) which, in view of the altitude of the cave (nearly 8,000 ft at the entrance) suggests a pre-glacial origin.  Up till now, some 5,000 ft of cave have been surveyed with a total depth of 825 ft. This cave almost certainly connects with a number of smaller caves in the area, the whole appearing to be an old system which has been truncated by erosion.  The cave contains the remains of a large number of cave bears.  Up till now we haven’t been able to determine where the bears entered the cave.  Another interesting fact is that bats still enter the cave to over winter, despite the altitude and low temperature.  For quite a long time we were stuck on what to call the cave, until someone discovered that we had opened it on the same day that the first man had set foot on the moon.  So it was christened Appolohohle!

During the last summer’s trip to the area, we had the stout assistance of Colin Priddle for two weeks who, on the caving trips, wore the most motley assortment of tattered garments, which became more and more tattered after each trip!  This year, we will again spend one or two weeks in the area to finish the exploration of the Appolohohle and to continue the search for other caves.  If anyone, like Colin did last year, happens to be in the area in the summer, they are very welcome to join us.

Apart from the Ratikon, we have spent quite a lot of time trying to force our way into various risings which occur in the north of Switzerland.  Many of these are for divers only (one has been penetrated by divers to about a quarter of a mile in length and a hundred and thirty feet in depth) but some have seasonal streams so that they almost dry up during the coldest weather.  By a combination of chemical persuasion and good old fashioned elbow grease we have made progress in two risings, but with modest results so far.  One of the problems in these caves is that of temperature difference between inside and outside in the winter.  Having spent an hour or so with a hammer and chisel in very damp surroundings, the effect of coming out into about 36 degrees of frost can be disturbing!  For one thing, one’s clothes freeze solid in next to no time, and it doesn’t pay to hang around to long.  Maybe by next year, we will have a second Holloch on our hands, and if so I will probably have to write another article.

Editor’s Note:    We hope that our old friend “Mo” will write another article in any case.  He certainly is keeping the B.E.C. flag flying in Switzerland by the sound of things.


Book Review

Walks In Limestone Country by A. Wainwright.

Published by Westmorland Gazette.  Price £1.05. (One Guinea)

This book covers thirty four walks in the Yorkshire Dales and, although it is basically intended for walkers, it could almost be mistaken for a cave guide.  It is printed from the original notes.  It includes maps, relief maps and drawings osites of interest (which included cave entrances).  The major caving districts of the Dales are included in the walks (e.g. Ingleborough; Penyghent; Whernside; Easegill; Kingsdale; Leck Fell etc.)  It could be very useful to newcomers to Yorkshire who may have difficulty in finding some of the caves.

There are many useful pieces of information for the walkers, such as where cafes are situated and whether hill tops shelters are still serviceable or not – for those who might be caught out in a storm.  The book is soft bound and about the same size of ‘Caves of Mendip’.  It is well worth the money – even for retired walkers for whom I am sure it will bring back memories.


Christmas comes but once a year
So why not bring BOB BAGSHAW cheer?
He’d doubtless like a card from you
Enclosing subs for ’72.
To pay subs in advance, you can
Although they are not due till Jan.

Boys Find New Arctic Cave

(Submitted by Tim Large).

A new cave in Arctic Norway’s Svartisen Glacier area was found by a party of two teachers and nine boys during a 3,000 mile overland expedition from Manchester.  The cave – believed to be the third largest in Europe – was about a mile in length and 750 feet in depth with huge chambers and ice formations.


If YOU know of any club member who has not been getting his or her B.B. lately, ask them to give you their address and check it with the list of members addresses.  If the address they have given you is different form that which the club has, then obviously, this is why they have had no B.B. Please, in that case, let Alan Thomas have the new address so that we can send B.B.’s to ALL members who ought to get them.  Make this your good turn for Christmas.


Free Diving to Swildons IX

(Time: Six Hours)

by Graham Phippen

On the twenty ninth of September 1971, five cavers: Dick Pike; Tony Jarrett (J.Rat); Peter Moody; Roger Libido and myself effectively free dived as far as Sump IX in Swildons. I am told that this was once achieved by two people once before, but it remains, I think, quite a fresh trip.

Dick Pike and J. Rat reached Sump IX using cylinders, and went further to inspect the recently opened Sump XIIa.  Pete Moody arrived at Sump IV by free diving Sumps I, II and III, accompanying Dick and Tony.  Roger and myself, lacking his confidence, skipped those sumps in favour of Blue Pencil, thus letting us down into the streamway before Sump IV.  There the other three, well rested, eagerly awaited our laboured breathing and hurled invectives at us as we rounded that famous bend.

At Sump IV, Roger and myself assumed some M.R.O. weights and donned hood and face mask.  All kitted up, Dick went first with his cylinder, and the rest of the party followed with Tony and his cylinder as ‘Tail end Charlie’.

Sump V is at present a series of short ducks, and presents no problem.  Swildons between Sumps V and VI smells vile and so we travelled hot-foot to Sump VI.  Most people would agree that this sump is an improbable free dive, being in the nature of a corkscrew and quite long.  I am willing for the present to take people’s word for this and to use the by-pass.

This bypass is easily located to the left of the sump and about fifteen feet up.  A fixed rope is conveniently placed to assist (Wot! Artificial aids? – Ed.)  A few dozen feet into the bypass, there is a rift that opens up on the right.  This is not the way on.  Continue to the left and the way on is pretty straight forward.  A mud sump will be encountered with fluid the consistency of cold porridge.  This did not need bailing, but apparently it often does.  Roger was at considerable disadvantage here.  After passing this mud sump, all our lamps were covered with a thick coating of mud, thus making it difficult to see, but Roger wore glasses and couldn’t see for mud anyway.

After the bypass, the cave opens up into a high rift chamber.  The stream is lost in boulder piles on the floor.  Sump VII was dived by Tony and Dick, while the rest of us spent some time locating the bypass for it.  Sump VIII.  Everyone seems to climb over the top of this one and leads very quickly to Sump IX. While Roger, Pete and myself were negotiating the bypass to VII, Dick and Tony has proceeded on their way to Sumps XII and XIIa, so we did not see them again until they surfaced from Sump IX. In Swildons XII, they went to have a look at Sump XIIa, at the end of a recently opened passage in XII.  This sump has been since explored to twenty five feet and is reported to be going on.  But where to?  Many think back to Sump XII.

Having all assembled again at Sump IX, there was no inclination to do anything else but make it hot foot out of the cave, as there was some doubt as to whether we should get in the requisite ‘sinks’ at the Hunters.  Roger and myself decided to go by sumps, instead of using Blue Pencil as we had on our way in.  Tony left his cylinder upstream of IV leaving only Dick with an air supply for going back through Sumps III, II and I.

I have been persuaded to write this article not to glorify my own exploits (it was a Wessex trip anyway) but because I foresee, when word gets around, a spate of people wanting to attempt the trip.  If people wish to, then it is at their own discretion, but it would be as well if they were informed as to the difficulties they will encounter.  I have described the trip more or less as it happened.  Now I shall take each sump in turn, neglecting Sump I, as most people will be familiar with it.


This sump is at a guess, thirty five feet long, and is wide, open and level.  This sump is large enough to get lost in, if you should be unfortunate enough to let go of the hand line – so hang on to it!  Allow about fifteen seconds to get through. Relax and take it easy and there is no reason why you should be fighting for air when you surface.  The distance between Sumps II and II is short and has no dry land between.  A duck splits the passage into two chambers.  As you come through the duck, look back and memorise it, as it can be difficult to find on returning.


This is about the same length and size as Sump II but it goes deeper.  I estimate that you have to go down about seven feet at the end before you come up for air.  Again, about fifteen seconds to pass through and don’t be silly as to let go of the line. For these two sumps, lead weights are an advantage to counter the buoyancy of the body and wet suit.  There is an M.R.O. weight dump upstream of II and another upstream of IV.  If you borrow these weights, they must be put back whence they came.  In Sump III, because you have to go down deeper, I found it a useful technique to turn a little on my side and push downwards with my legs thus keeping my body and head from dragging against the roof.


This can, of course, be arrived at via Blue Pencil which is considerably safer but more strenuous. Sump IV is about fifteen feet long, but tighter than two and three.  Nowhere is there at present any severe constriction, though this seems subject of the amount of silting.  The limits of the passage can be felt by arms and legs all the ways through but it is certainly not a squeeze.


Owing to the prevailing dry conditions when we undertook the trip, Sump V was a series of short ducks. The handline does not necessarily follow the line of these ducks, as we did not use it.  When this sump actually sumps it is reported to be sixty feet long.


This is not a free dive, although I have met a diver who claims that he used no air in passing through it with a cylinder.  It is thirty feet long, but with an awkward constriction.  The bypass is to the left of the sump, marked with a fixed rope.


A bypass has been recently opened to Sump VII, which, again, is not a free dive.  The bypass is in the form of a duck into a short sandy passage as originally found.  However, a little chemical persuasion brought the roof down and closed it.  On our trip, we ferreted around and eventually found our way into this bypass by rolling back a heavy boulder revealing and easy squeeze over a pool water.  This boulder is to be found to the left of the sump at about the position of the start of the handline going through the sump.  The boulder rocks, and this acts rather like a trapdoor.  It is half underwater.  Good hunting!


There is a short and easily found bypass over the top.


Over a hundred feet long and marks the present limit of free diving.

The trip was very much enjoyed by all present.  The question that people will ask of course is, ‘Was it too much of a risk?’  You must judge for yourself.  The trip was undertaken at the end of a long dry spell, which made Sump V a series of ducks.  Two of the party were cave divers with cylinders and had all recent knowledge of the character of the sumps, which in the case of Sumps IV and V does not change.  Pete had free dived two and three before, perhaps further, I’m not sure, and I had previously dived two.  With the exception of Roger, who is quite recent to caving, we all had experience of long standing.  We wore hoods, which add considerably to comfort and face masks which, although not essential, added confidence.  It’s nice to be able to see where you are going!  One tip I learned on this trip was to wear the cable flex of your lighting cell under the armpit and across the body to the helmet rather than over the back.  If, as happened, your helmet is knocked off, it will not trail the full length of the cable behind you on passing through the sumps.  If your helmet comes adrift when the cable flex is across your body, then it cannot easily float out of reach.  Also, it is easier to free your cable if it snags on a projection when in front of your body than if it should do so when it is laid across your back. When free diving sumps, this is surely a piece of advice that could avoid a fatality.

Finally, all the sumps attempted with air can be done quite easily with either one or two breaths.


The Great Cave of Chévre-Eglise

by N. Castanet

Our next article gives a new slant on a certain well known Mendip cave. The author also sent a copy to the Wessex Journal, who printed it recently.  We think that it is appropriate to the time of the year with apologies to you-know-who.

I recall, as a young schoolboy, hearing of tales of the great cave at Chévre-Eglise in the County of Somerset.  How I longed to explore its secret mysteries and penetrate deep into the cavern which for so long had been constantly in my imagination.

At last, in 1959 with some young friends, we mounted our bicycles and headed out to the wild gorge wherein lies the yawning entrance to the great cave.  After many hours of riding up long arduous hills, we arrived, tired but still cheerful at the entrance.  We staggered up the winding slope weighed down with our load of boiler suits, acetylene lamps, ropes and other paraphernalia which speleologists habitually carry on these on these daring adventures.

After changing, we picked up our heavy equipment and entered the cave. What a sight met our eyes in the dim light, hardly aided by the flickering flames of our carbide lamps! It was necessary to make a short descent into a vast chamber which stretched away into the distance.  This must indeed be the great cave of Chévre-Eglise we had heard of much about.  We began the difficult and treacherous descent into this vast yawning cavity.  I quickly tied a rope around me and picked my way carefully down the slippery steps, eventually arrived safely on the floor of the great chamber.  By now we were running out of carbide and very exhausted, so new were forced to return to the open air; remount our faithful bicycles and pedal wearily back to Bristol.

My thoughts returned to the great cave, but it was two years later before in managed to organise another assault on this cave which for so long had remained an unattainable goal. Once more we found ourselves at the entrance to the cave, and made our way down to the great chamber, which had been the furthest point reached by our party on the previous venture.  This time, we had brought extra supplies of carbide and water, so necessary to sustain our lights on an expedition such as this.  We advanced into the great chamber and wondered ceaselessly when it would end. All the way down, we were puzzled by thin stalagmites of a deep red or black colour.  This have since been examined by experts and shown to be iron handrails, no doubt of Iron Age origin when the cave was inhabited by our distant ancestors.  The chamber gradually narrowed and finally came to a dead end.  My colleagues were convinced that this was the end of the cave, and were inscribing their initials on the walls by means of their lamps, a characteristic of many cave explorers, when I noticed a small passage on our left just before the final choke.  I squeezed into it and found myself in a steep rift.  Pressing my back against one wall and my feet against the other, I gradually let myself down this great gulf, as one slip would have almost certainly proved fatal and in any case, it would have been impossible to get an injured man out of such a dangerous situation.  After descending three or four metres, I decided that extra equipment would be needed, and began to climb back up the rift.  The walls of the rift were of smooth flowstone and gave no hold. Eventually, after many hours, I rejoined my companions at the top of the rift and we slowly made our way out of the cave.

Once more, in 1965, I again descended this fearsome chasm, this time bringing more ropes.  I once again descended the rift, this time with the aid of a rope, and my companions joined me at the bottom.  We found ourselves in a dry narrow passage, our progress being impeded considerably by the fact that the passage, instead of being upright, was inclined at an angle, forcing us to lean against one wall nearly all the way.  After a while, the passage began to rise.  We noticed a tight passage going down to the right in the floor, but it proved much too tight to enter, so we pushed on up the slope.  At this point, the passage veered to the left (I believe it was left but below ground one so quickly loses all sense of direction that it may well have been right) and a shaft opened up on the right.  I fastened a rope around me and went to the edge. What I saw filled me with horror. It was a shaft so steep and slippery that it would need another expedition to descend it.  We decided to continue up the sloping passage, and soon we were surprised to see the light of day from above.  This must be the other side of the mountains!  We climbed out, and after spending some hours looking for our bicycles, we set off once more for Bristol, happy in the knowledge that we had conquered at last the great cave of Chévre-Eglise


The B.B. in 1972

It has been felt for some time (ever since the editor realised it, to be accurate!) that the start of the second quarter century of the existence of the B.B. should be marked in some way or other.  At the A.G.M., a couple of trial balloons were flown, to see how the club would react. This has enables us to forget about changing the B.B. to a quarterly, and to concentrate on the job of improving it as it stands.

Since this will be the last of the present style B.B.’s, it seems a good idea time to discuss the new one, to minimise any surprise which mat result in January.

Firstly, we are going metric.  We should have to do this in any case.  Other caving journals are also going metric – the Wessex Journal at the same time as the B.B. The only question is one of which of the metric sizes to adopt.  To explain what we are up against here, it might be as well to run through the metric range – its good for a laugh if nothing else!

Why it is not something sensible like 20cm by 30cm is due to the morons who decide these things.  It is traditional to start with a large sheet of paper (in our case, Large Post – 20” x 16”) and cut it in half if you want something smaller.  Cutting it in half again give you quarto or 10” x 8”.  Half again gives Octavo and so on.  There is another large size of paper which, on being cut progressively in half, produces foolscap (13” x 8”) and at one time we used this for the B.B. and later used it folded to produce a page 8” x 6½”.  This is roughly the size you would get by cutting Large Post in six, so it is called 6mo.

Now, the metric paper wallahs decided to base their standard on a piece of paper 1 metre square in area. You couldn’t very well make this square, because if you did, the next size down would be long and thin, so you have to make it so that any halving produces paper of a reasonable rectangular shape.  Systems based on ten do not lend themselves readily to successive division by two, and so the size of the basic A0 paper is 119.047cm by 84cm.  Half this size is called A1 and is 84 x 59.523cm.  Half this again is A2 and so on.  This system gives A4 as already quoted about the same width as our present quarto and about halfway between the length of quarto and that of foolscap.

Now the B.B. started life as a number of foolscap sheets, but it was soon found that this size of paper was too unwieldy, and it was changed to quarto (as it is now).  Later again, it was changed to half foolscap (or 6mo) but was changed back again for technical reasons not connected with the size, but with the fact that it was folded.

So it is necessary to choose between A4 and A5 – the first rather bigger than our present B.B., and the second smaller than the B.B. has ever been.  After giving the matter much thought, and discussing the pros and cons of both sizes we have plumped for the smaller size.  It makes a thicker looking magazine (the average issue should be at least 20 pages and we hope will be considerably more).  It fits the pocket without bending or folding.  It stands upright on a bookshelf and, last but not least, it saves paper and stencils by requiring smaller margins.  The only real disadvantages would appear that the pages must be turned more often, thus straining the drinking arm, and that surveys etc. will tend to be rather small.  This latter objection can be overcome partly by the better methods or reproduction afforded by the offset litho process, and occasionally by using the centre pages, which form a continuous sheet of A4 size.

Having dealt with the size, and mentioned the use of offset litho – which should give us a better looking printed page, you will no doubt be wondering if you are going to get your fair share in the way of amount of printed matter per anum.  To this end, an analysis has been done of all B.B.’s during the 25 years just past.  Making allowances for changes in page size and type size used, and reducing all B.B.’s to a common factor (pages of quarto typed with this typeface or – in other words, what you are getting NOW) we find that the average number of pages per month has gradually risen from 2.7 in 1947 to a record of 14.1 in 1969.  This year it runs at 12.3.  Pages of the new size will come in multiples of 4, and we can compare as follows: -

pages of new size per month









pages of this size per month








…so you will be able to keep note of what you are getting next year, and moan if it’s not equal to your fair share!

Thus, at 12 new pages per month, you will be entitled to grumble – although we must point out that you would be getting as much as you got throughout the early 1960’s and more than you got in the 1950’s.  At 16 pages per month you can still grumble – although it has only been in the last 4 years that you have had more. At 20 pages per month, you have no real moan, although you might be disappointed – a s I shall be.  At 24 pages per month, you will be getting more than you have ever had, and if you get an average of 28 pages per month – both you and I will be pleasantly surprised.

It remains now only to discuss the CONTENT of the B.B.  Again, a complete analysis has been carried out, and we find that the content fluctuates very considerably.  For this purpose, the content of the B.B. was divided into 8 categories.  Club Business (including notices, reports of A.G.M.’s and club officers, Belfry matters, etc.). Caving, Climbing (including hill walking and foreign travel not connected with caving).  Informative (which includes all scientific articles, archaeology, technical matters like surveying practice, photography, care and construction of tackle etc.).  Entertainment (including humour, puzzles, etc.).  News of other organisations.  Letters to the editor and finally Book reviews.  It may be of great interest that the 1970 B.B. came closest to the general average, with about 35% club business, 24% caving, 16% entertainment, 15% climbing, 9% informative, and 1% odds and ends.  The content of next year’s B.B. will be carefully watched and, if necessary, people will be specially asked to write on subjects that will keep the balance on a healthy side.  In particular, the average of news of other organisations – at 1% - and letters to the editor – at 4% - are felt to be on the low side – as are book reviews at less than 1%.  We shall try to keep these a bit higher.

So watch out for the new style in January.  Let us know if there is anything you don’t lie (apart form the size – to which we are now committed) and it would be very nice if you even let us know about things you DO like.  Editor’s, like other people, need encouragement from time to time!



Club Caving Trips in 1972

We have received a letter from our caving Sec. – Tim Large which, unfortunately, arrived just too late to be printed in this B.B. in its entirety.  Tim suggests that during the coming year, club trips should be run by club members rather than by the Caving Sec.   If you have a favourite caving trip – or a trip you have been wanting to do for ages, let Tim know about it.    You fix the date, and Tim will arrange to give the trip publicity and do the organising of keys, permits etc.  Tim’s slogan for next year is ‘MAKE YOUR TRIP A CLUB TRIP’.  Tim also says that he now has the club’s key to RHINO RIFT and is waiting for the hard men to come forward to explore its depths (and write it up for the B.B. – Ed).  He wishes all cavers a merry Christmas and good caving in the New Year.

New Addresses and Alterations to Members Addresses














R. Bidmead

M. Bishop

E. Bishop

T.A. Brooks

R. Cross

P. Eckford

C. Harvey

R. Hobbs

D. Jones

R. Sell

A. Stone

R. Voke


4 Dine Grove, Bristol 7

‘Islay’, 98 Winsley Hill, Limpley Stoke, Nr. Bath, Somerset.

Was Miss E. Williamson

37 Wyatt Park Road, London SW2

12 Clifton Terrace, Falmouth, Cornwall

80 Wilton Gardens, Shirley, Southampton

‘Byways’, Hanham Lane, Paulton, Somerset

Rose Cottage, West End, Nailsea, Nr. Bristol

11 Queensford, Calne, Wilts

51 Swiss Road, Ashton Vale, Bristol 3

76 Rancliffe Gardens, Eltham, London SE9

8 Pavey Road, Hartcliffe, Bristol 3

Was Miss M. Thompson and is now at T. Large’s address


Make a note of JANUARY 31st. It is the day your 1972 subs are due. Why not give Bob a surprise.


A Day in Letterewe Foreszt

by Steve Grime

One of my climbing friends from Edinburgh had helped with my removal problem to this area, and decided to stay on for the weekend, so on the Sunday we decided to go climbing with Stewart – one of the original gillies.  The original plan had been to climb Bat’s Gash, a nine hundred foot V. Diff. on Ben Lair crags (this is equal to a Welsh severe).  We left the house at 8 am and trekked off up to the bealach.  By 9 we were at the bealach (col) and saw that the crags were really clag-bound and the first drops of rain were coming on.

We decided to do a walk down Fiann Loch to the base of Ben Airegh and then do a nice eleven hundred foot difficult.    After four of the longest miles I know in Scotland, we arrived at the foot of the crag.  By this time, bellies were beginning to rumble but as we had no food with us, we could only tighten our belts.

Five hundred feet of grass and rock led to the start of the climb and from there it began in earnest – or as earnest as a diff. can get.  The rock dipped away from us and the holds were fine and positive.  Cracks were few, and three runners were used over the full length of the climb.  M.O.A.C.S. are the best bet in these hills but Clog Hex 4 or 5 do come in useful occasionally.

At halfway, the wind was strong and cold and at the end, the effect of six hours hard work on a plate of cornflakes was beginning to show as progress slowed.  The situations were really fine and the views up the glen out of this world.

Finally, we debouched upon the summit and lay there in the sun watching alternately an eagle soaring on the thermals and turbulence coming off the ridge, and a herd of a score of deer slowly picking their way down the glen an thousand feet or more below us. Rock pipits pipped and a stone chat chatted while we dreamed of food.

Coiling the ropes, we started our downward journey over a carpet of moss covered with little saxifrage and mauve and white orchids.  At about a thousand feet above sea level we put up a herd of feral goat with black shaggy coats and huge horns.  Bob’s feet blistered and our progress slowed.  We meandered down to the farm buildings where the Head Keeper was doing the milking, and treated ourselves to a pint of milk each straight from the cow. The sun was hot as Bob and I said cheerio to Stewart and set out on the last half mile to my house.  We dawdled by the loch side as the bees hummed about the rhododendrons and the water lapped the shore.  A bird warbled in the thicket, and we finally reached the house four hours behind schedule, as we were supposed to be taking the girls climbing in the afternoon.  Fortunately, they were understanding, and the day ended peacefully.




Has any club member got ‘CAVES OF NORTH WEST CLARE’ from the club library?  If so, could you return it as soon as possible.  Any other outstanding books should also be returned so that we can do stocktaking on the library.

Help Wanted

Although we have made quite a few arrangements to ensure that we stand a better chance of keeping a bigger B.B. going next year, we could do with some help in writing the odd snippets on various subjects.  Three of which come to mind are; 1. Book Reviews; 2. Items from the Journals of the other clubs; and 3.  Brief write-ups of social and other events.  If any members have any ambitions to become a journalist for the B.B., please contact Alfie, who would also be pleased to hear about any other suggestions from members designed to make the B.B. bigger, better, more interesting etc. next year.


The Weegee goes West

I parked the car at the end of the track and got out.  Some track. It was, more like a ploughed up field. Still, I thought, all the better. Nobody else would drive over that lot for fear of wrecking their suspension.  Mine – well, I was worried.  It was a wreck anyway.  Five quid to get it through its last M.O.T.  Great.  I had the whole place to myself.  Stuff Snowdonia.  Too many day trippers this was it.  Solitude.

I scanned this valley. Some place.  Inspiring. The sides of it swept up to the blue sky with rock jutting out in all directions and slopes of scree where it was all directions and slopes of scree where it was all coming apart and falling back down.  The floor of the valley was wide and green, different from the brown grass higher up, with a stream, and walls built of slate slabs standing on end.  There were some sheep, little white dots, high up and far away.  They must be lost.  The place was so quiet that you could hear them baaing.  And it was hot.  Man, it was the height of summer.

I hefted my rucksack onto my back.  One of these foamed jobs from Millets.  Genuine mountaineering gear.  Checked my wallet in the old hip pocket; locked up the banger, and set off.  Two hundred quid I had in that wallet and I’d grafted every penny of it on overtime so I wasn’t about to leave it in the glove compartment where some thief could get at it.

Half a mile with that pack on my back and I was soaked with sweat and gasping.  So O.K., it was good for me.  That sun.  That heat. That clean, fresh air.  It was what I was here for.  You’ve got to have contrast.  Be able to get away from it all.  Like last night it was sitting stuck in a London traffic jam with stinking engines belching into the lit-up rain lashing at thousands of milling wet people all rushing around without the time of day to exchange a how’s your old man – never mind to take the trouble to wipe sour looks off their miserable faces.

Man.  This place was really living.  Invigorating.  That was the word.  Rejuvenating. A week of relaxing in this valley, and I’d be fit and sunburned, ready to book into Butlin’s for the second part of the holiday.  A seven day session.  The birds! I had it all planned.  I drained a can of beer and chucked the tin over my shoulder.  The place could do with a hint of civilisation.  It was too barren.

I put my foot down and got going.  I reckon two miles into that valley and I was just about knackered.  The end of it started sloping up to meet the sides, and it was all climbing and clambering over rock and sliding stones mixed up with fine gravel.  Here and there, a different kind of rock lat scattered about.  Quartz, by the look of it.  Reflecting the sunlight so that it was dazzling white and hard of the eyes. Yes, I would say quartz. Definitely.

About halfway up, just as my appreciation was beginning to crack, I came to a natural platform.  A kind of heaven amongst the litter of boulders. It was flat as a board and turfed over with short green grass, with half buried squared stones sticking out of it like the remains of a wall.  The sheep had been at the grass and had cropped it close to the earth so that it was dry and warm to the touch.

I pitched the tent and got the grub cooked.  It was like manna from heaven out there in the open.  Real tasty.  This was what I called really getting away from the rat race.  That canteen cooking back there in the smoke could get you nothing but ulcers.  Imagine it!” Eighth hours a day in a stinking workshop and the only break you get is a load of mashed up junk they lash up and chuck at you on a dirty plate.  I put the water on the primus for the coffee and lay back, contented, to wait for it to boil.

You ever had a fright? I men a real fright.  One moment, it’s all on your side and you can’t go wrong, and the next your nerves are leaping around you inside you screaming to get out and run.  That kind of fright.  Well, there I was with a whole valley laid out to view like an aerial painting below me, up here on my own, perched on my ledge – and I look up and in the next second see this weirdo squatting in a niche above the platform staring at me and I knew he’d been there all the time watching me.

That kind of thing is enough to paralyse anybody no matter how hard they want to scarper out of it. The only think you can think about at the time like that is to wish you weren’t there.

“Enjoy the gifts of nature is it that you are?”  This weirdo shouts at me, and jumps out of his niche.  A real apparition he was, hanging in ragged cast-offs with a grey beard tangled around his face and the hair on his head hanging out like an old brush from under the remains of a hat with the brim all sagging round his eyes and ears.  Fierce too. Fill of strut and bounce.  I’ve seen some weirdoes draped around Hyde Park, but this one was different – a right Welsh mountain nutter, and no mistake.

A staggered to my feet and backed away from him to put a bit of distance between us.  “Alone is what you are, then?” he said, peering about as if he didn’t know damn well I was.  “I like the tent, boyo” says he, fingering the material.  “Made of fine silk there is could it be man?  Very pretty to be sure in all its beautiful red colour and white strings.  And light and airy enough to fly away like a kite on a puff of breeze.  I should think so, wouldn’t you agree?”

“No!” I croaked. “It’s made of nylon.  It’s a mountain tent.  Got an ‘A’ frame and a flysheet and a sewn-in ground sheet. It’ll stand up to any storm short of a hurricane.”  He sniffed suspiciously around the tent as he had never heard of nylon.  “Strange it is then, and here you are in your flimsy tent on the very spot where the house once stood that is gone now that sheltered me when I was a young bach, and living in my old age out on the bare mountain!” He squatted down on the turf like a run down gramophone and squinted at me out of the corner of his eye.  “Is it not?”

“You lived her as a boy?” He nodded his hairy face.  “And I’ll die here too, when my time comes. The last of the family, with nobody to inherit.”  He pointed across the left side of the valley.  “Buried over there we are, in the chapel besides the farm.”

I noticed that the water was boiling, so I got busy and made the coffee.  I couldn’t see any farm and now that I got a closer look at him I reckoned the poor old sod was already half dead.  He’d probably been stuck up on the mountain all summer living on bracken roots.  “Here!” I said, offering him some coffee. “It’ll warm you up a bit.”

“Coffee then, is it now?” said he, impressed. “And in a splendid china mug too, as well.  Let’s spark it up a bit and put a drop of life into it!” and he produced a bottle of whiskey out of his coat lining.  Not content with this, he fumbles around and finds a couple of cigars – one each – still in their containers, brand new and lights up with a snazzy gas powered lighter.

“Of course you know, boyo,” says he, breathing out the scented smoke and waxing eloquent on the life giving whiskey, “the valley will still be there when I’m gone, and you too, for that matter.”  I suppose it will, thinks I, you crafty old git, and so will the village store where you nicked your loot.  Whiskey and cigars, indeed!  And I couldn’t help smirking at him.

“Ah yes boyo,” he declaims in his Welsh singsong, evidently taking my smirk for an understanding smile. “Look you now, I own this place.  Been in the family for centuries, as far as you can see.”  He waved his arm around, the tattered sleeve slapping around the skinny wrist, and pointed at the surrounding rubble.  “Look you now, there is good firm stone provided by nature for the taking to build houses to live in, and coal from the seam over yonder to warm us with fire.”

I interrupted hum. “Here, have some more coffee!” Trust me to get lumbered with some raving and drunk hermit in the middle of nowhere.  It was about time to pack up the tent and clear off before the old fool decided to stay the night.  He pulled the whiskey bottle out again.  Something else came out of the lining with it and dropped on the grass.  A battered old wedding ring.  One of those old fashioned thick ones bent and flattened into a practically unrecognisable lump of metal.  I picked it up and handed it to him.  “Your ring.  You dropped it!”  He clutched it with his bony fingers and looked at me real suspicious like. “Where did you find that, boyo?” “Off the deck.  You dropped it out of your pocket.  It’s your wedding ring.”

That got through to him all right.  He cackled like a turkey with hysterics.  If he’d had any blood inside him he’d have blown an artery.  “Me wedding ring!” he spluttered, “Look!” and he pulled another handful of lumpy stuff out of his coat.  “I could make a hundred wedding rings if you could show me a hundred wenches willing to wear them for me.”  And goes off into hysterics again as if he’d made some kind of joke.

Suddenly I got very interested.  Either the stuff was for real, or it was the rubbish – pyrites.  That was it!  The crazy old fool was roaming around up here, grubbing it out of the ground not knowing what it was.  He could be a millionaire for all he knew.  “You mean nobody would want the rings because it is fool’s gold?”  I asked him, when he’d finally quietened down. He jiggled the lumps around like dice in his fist and then dropped them on the turf in a little heap, and gave me a real sharp look that I didn’t like much.  His eyes were a bit too deep.  Sort of piercing.

“It could well be so,” he said in a low mutter.  “Fool’s gold. Very clever is the gentleman. Gold for the fools who come up here into the valley to make trouble for us.”  I let him ramble on.  I was too busy thinking to listen.  How what was it?  There was a test for gold.  I’d read about it somewhere.  I racked my brains.  A quick test. That was it!  Rub the gold on a piece of glazed china and it will leave a trace.  China!  My mud was china!  I picked up a lump like a battered wedding rind and rubbed it on the china mug.  It left a mark.  A streak of gold across the white surface,.  Christ!  It was real gold!  What had the old idiot been yapping about?  Trouble, or something.  I had to keep him talking.

“Trouble dad?” I said gently, “Who’s been giving you trouble?”  he looked at me carefully.  “Can I trust you, boyo?”  “Of course you can trust me dad.  Who was it?”

“Oh well now, we’ve had our troubles over the years what with one thing and another.  There was my father, God rest him, who broke his neck up there on the scree when he was rounding up his sheep.  The there was…”  “Yes, old man.  But who did you give this gold to?”  He looked at me again.   Sharpish. “Who were the fools?”  I said.

He spat contemptuously. “The dam builder!  He was the last one that I saw up here.  Sent buy the government to build a dam and flood the valley!  He gave me four hundred pounds and I gave him some gold.  That was our bargain.  That was the last I saw of him, and nobody’s been near the place since.  Except you.  But you’re not a fool, are you?  Not from the government, are you?”

“Listen dad.  How much gold did you give him?  For four hundred pounds, I mean?”  It was incredible.  I just sat there and couldn’t believe it.  And I was so scared it made my teeth chatter.  “Wait now and I’ll show you!”  He went off, and came back with a ragged bundle and it must have weighed a ton by the way he was carrying it.  He dumped it at my feet.  “That much!” he panted.

I couldn’t even look at the stuff.  I felt like I’d come upon Littlewoods and I was just waiting for the cheque to arrive. Christ!  No wonder the dam builder never came back.  He’d probably sent in a negative report and then quietly faded to the Bahamas!  “Listen carefully, old man.  I will give you two hundred pounds.”  I took out my wallet and waved a bunch of notes at him, “for half that gold and I will come back and buy some more from you with more money until we both have enough to build you a new farm fit for a king, and stock this valley with prime beef and best quality merino sheep.  Is it a deal?”

He looked at me with tears in his eyes.  “Boyo, bach, I liked the look of you when I saw you climbing up the valley.  And when you pitched your find tent on this ground where the old house stood, it made my hearts sing a welcome.  Go get the money.  Build us a farm.  I want to finish my days on this earth in comfort.  Go and get the money, boyo!”  He took the two hundred quid, and I let him have it.  What had I to lose?  Two hundred, chicken feed!

But he must have been a wiry old bird.  Half that gold was about all I could lift when I got my rucksack on my back.  I left the tent where it was, and all the rest of the gear.  What did I want with a tent?  I was on my way to join the dam builder!  It nearly killed me, but I practically ran all the way back to the car.  The old fool!  Why, I’d buy a four wheel drive land rover and ship the stuff out of the valley by the ton!

Down at the Llandrindidnod assay office, where they check the gold from the small mines, the chemist or clerk, or whatever he was, wouldn’t commit himself until he’d assayed the lot. Then he handed me a sheet of paper with his report written on it.  “What’s this lot mean then?”  I snapped, irritated to hell with his civil service and all the delay.

“It means,” he said, “that you’re the fifth gentleman to come up he in the past two years with a story about digging up gold.  You are wealthy to the tune of five pounds, which will just about cover my fee.  The assay reveals ninety nine percent of iron pyrites and one nugget of eight carat gold.  What’s that you say?  Had you fooled, did it?  Paid a lot of money for it, did you now?  Better go and see the police, boyo, although, mind you, they won’t like you for digging without a prospector’s licence.”

 “Who owns the valley, can you tell me?” I croaked.  “What valley, boyo?  Here show me on the map.”  I pointed to it.  “Why, nobody owns it,” he said.  “It’s National Trust, you can see that on the map, look you!”

I’d torn the big ends out of the car getting that junk out of the valley, so I had to hitch back to the smoke.  I went back to work, which was O.K. because the firm was on staggered holidays. Well, what else could I do?  But next summer, I’ll track that old devil to his lair up in the hills and knock his block off.

“Jok Orr”


Pant Mawr Pothole

by Graham Wilton-Jones

We arrived at Penwyllt prepared for a photographic trip into O.F.D.  However, the day was warm and the sky cloudless.  These conditions prevailed for weeks, and the moor top peat was dusty dry.  We decided to take the opportunity for visit Pant Mawr Poy, which is about three miles from Penwyllt and tow miles from Cwm Pwll-y-Rhydd.  Since the latter route starts with a steep climb from the Nedd Fechan, we took the easier, though longer route.

It is easy for follow the old quarry railway track up a gentle slope past O.F.D. Column Hall area, past several limestone quarries and up the Byfre valley to the sandstone quarries around Pwll Byrfre.  The sink here is not spectacular, the water from this stream sinking at several points in mud and boulders.  Undoubtedly this section of O.F.D. is solidly blocked with washed out moraine.

By following the east-west wall above Pwll Byfre we eventually arrived, hot and thirsty, at a particular high point on Pant Pawr from which the view was magnificent.  The whole of the lower, northern side of the moor is covered in holes, many of them quite large, and some in very obvious rows.  Clearly, there is much to be found here for someone who doesn’t mind plenty of walking and, perhaps, plenty of digging.  None of the hollows are obviously stream sinks.

To the north of the wall, there is one large and obvious sink.  Pant Mawr Pothole is less than a hundred yards south of this, but was easy to find in the clear weather as the fence posts around the pot appear white against the heather.

We left the path, and headed straight for the pothole through the thick heather, which was buzzing with bees and small insects and alive with little spiders.  Ravens were roving the skies above while grouse lurked around the damp peaty hollows.  However, the sound of cool fresh water at the bottom of the pothole lured us below.

The top half of the pot is roughly conical with a very steep southern side and a slightly less steep northern side, dropping down thirty feet or forty feet to a ledge.  From this ledge, there is a sheer drop of fifty five feet.

Using handline and lifeline, we dropped down to the ledge and inserted two rawlbolts.  On unrolling the ladder, we realised that we had only forty five feet.  However, we set up tackle and I descended first, being very dehydrated by now.  The ladder was ten feet short – I wondered what cavers do when they use the recommended fifty foot ladder? Fortunately, at thirty five feet there is a wide ledge.  By swinging on the ladder I got a foot on the ledge and a hand into a vertical crack. Once on the ledge, I found an easy climb down to the floor of the pot.  A thirty fife foot ladder would be sufficient, with a ten foot length of cord at the bottom to tie the ladder to the ledge.  Ever tried jumping onto a ladder which is hanging five feet away in space?

We took a look at the upstream series first.  The water comes through a narrow rift which has some superb shelving – unusual in Wales.  Beyond this is a waterfall in a side aven but the passage goes on a little way as a rift. This can be climbed to a bedding plane. In turn, this leads to the top of the waterfall in one direction and away below the moor, close to the surface in the other.

Downstream, the passage is large and is possible to walk for most of the way.  There are roof falls and consequent boulder chokes in a few places. One fall is a direct result of limestone breaking off the overlying shale bed.  Here, the roof is visibly bowed towards the centre and further falls are imminent!  Another fall has been caused by phreatic tubes spreading into a bedding plane development a feet or so above the existing roof.  Again, there is a danger of further collapse, although this is not so acute here.

Climbing over one of these boulder chokes, we passed through a long but low chamber, well decorated with straws and small stalactites.  From this point onwards, the stream passage, which forms most of the cave, is well decorated with stal, though much of this is rather muddy.  This is not the fault of cavers but is due to frequent and extensive sumping.

From the boulder choke downwards, the cave is liable to severe flooding and though it appeared to be safe in certain places, it would not be wise to rely on these.  A soft, black, organic mud clings to the roof and walls in many places as a warning.

There are some large chambers off to the west of the main stream passage, but we did not visit these. Although they constitute an important section of the cave geomorphologically – considering the past connection with O.F.D., they are not a large percentage of the total passage length. Instead, we continued down to the fire hydrant where a torrent of water, as much as the main stream, issues from an impenetrable fissure in the low roof at the west side of the main passage. From about thirty feet back up the passage, from a hole up in the west wall, a stream could be heard.  We persuaded Bert to enter the hole and have a look, and forced him literally upwards and inwards.  After a quarter of an hour, there was still no sign of him, so Buckett climbed up and disappeared after him.  For three quarters of an hour I pottered about while Bert and Bucket followed a narrow stream passage trending northwards.  They did not reach the end, as time, energy and enthusiasm wore out.  There were a number of cross rifts, some un-entered.  Surprisingly, there is no surface stream of catchment area that could give rise to such a large stream, so its source remains a mystery.  The extraction of the pair of explorers back into the main passage was most amusing as they both returned head first.  It should be mentioned that the hole through which they had to emerge was squeeze size and almost eight feet pup a sheer wall. The rest can be imagined!

From here, we continued downstream.  The passage rapidly became narrower and lower with a gravel floor.  Eventually it degenerates into a crawl and, with the sump not far off, we decided to return.  The journey back to the surface took less that half an hour.  The total time underground was three and a half hours. If anyone wishes to visit Pant Mawr Pot, you need a letter of permission to walk over the moor, so it is wise to write in advance.


The Five Caves Show

Ann and Kangy King – August 1970.

In southern France is the Auvergne, a region of outstanding natural beauty. It divides naturally into the gorges of the Tarn, the Cevennes and the Bas Languedoc.  It is three hours journey north east of Toulouse.

This vast limestone area or causse is cut out by rivers into long deep gorges.  It is a region of caves, large well decorated grottoes, appreciated and commercialised by natives.  They have energetically tunnelled into them most spectacularly to make them show caves which are, in some cases, even provided with railways. Martel, the great name in the region, opened up the causses to tourists by his explorations and writings.  His achievements, even by today’s standards are impressive and at the time (1880’s) were incredible.

Signs on all the roads show the way to the five listed caves.  This and the Green Michelin Guide, makes finding them easy.  The guide has also contributed substantially to this article!

DARGILAN has a spectacular situation high on the side of the Joute Gorge.  It was found in the eighteenth century but such is the wild and remote nature of the country that it was forgotten and not rediscovered until 1880 by a shepherd.  He spoke about it to someone and eventually Martel explored it (the known cave) in 1888, taking four days to do it and nearly losing one of the team in a twenty foot fall.  Soon after, ladders were put in and the cave opened to visitors.  Electric light was laid on in 1910.

The decorated part starts directly at the entrance, and is a big hall with plenty of columns.  The hall is 460 feet long by 130 feet wide and over a hundred feet high.  From here there is a natural shaft, now equipped with concrete stairs, which leads to the lower passages and chambers.  These contain notably, a wall of red, brown, yellow and white drapery 330 feet long by 130 feet high; a lake, and finally one crowning glory of “Le Clocher” – a really superb formation over sixty feet high.  This terminates the cave and the passages are retraced to the entrance.  A cavey sort of trip.

AVEN ARMAND is billed as the start of the region, and may be imagined in form as a monster Pen Park Hole or Lamb Leer, with a hundred foot sloping tunnel equipped with an electric funicular railway and a loud speaker urgently crackling that the next tour start in two minutes each fifteen minutes.  Martel had been poking into holes with the assistance of Louis Armand, the blacksmith of Rozier.  On the 18th September, 1887, Armand came back from the causse very excited and told Martel that he had come across an enormous hole with great possibilities. The next day, Martel, Armand and Vire took their ladders to the hole with the aid of local men.

Armand went down and at the bottom of a 250 foot pitch found incredible formations.  Martel and Vire went down the day after.  The cave was opened after some difficulty in 1927.

Concrete staircases everywhere in conjunction with the railway make the visit very easy.  The first view of the vast chamber is from the balcony, where the three hundred by two hundred by a hundred and fifteen foot high hall makes a great impression.  Conducted by uniformed guides, the tour continues down the steps and through great plantations of amazingly shaped stalagmites, the whole dwarfed by the great high roof.

After the organised order of the Aven Armand tour, the less glittering BRAMABIAU is presented like a very poor relation.  No big car park, no loudspeaker announcements.  Just a good looking girl in a wooden shed to give you tickets, and her small brother to tear them in half and take you round.  Relatively speaking, it is hard trip with half an hour walk on a steep muddy path before reaching the resurgence.  This is an underground ‘river’ type of show cave, with no formations but beautifully situated in a deeply cut gorge with the river emerging as a waterfall.  An evocative print in the Michelin Guide shows Martel and his mates tugging a wooden boat up a waterfall.  He made the first traverse from resurgence to sink on the 27th and 28th June 1888. This was a distance of 2,200 feet. Later explorations revealed about six miles of passages.  Regrettably, the tourist trip hardly leaves the daylight.  However, it is still worthwhile to visit if only to enjoy the effect of contre-jour on the way back, and exploring the gorge, both top and bottom.

Martel is also associated with the GROTTE DES DEMOISELLES, discovered in 1770 and explored by him in 1884. It is of a similar type to Aven Armand, except that the entrance tunnel that was blasted for the railway slopes upwards.

The Grotte des Demoiselles is remarkable for its lack of visible rock – all is absolutely covered in stal flow.  The trip is presented nicely too.  There is a preliminary tour of interesting and well decorated passages and chambers, and then suddenly the huge central chamber is seen at the head of a zig-zagging stair which leads into the beautiful detail of the main hall. Sentimentally, its name comes from a particularly large virgin and child shaped stalagmite which holds pride of place. Everywhere glitters with particularly well lighted formations and the final passages are no exception.

CLAMOUSE completes the five. As Martel died in 1938 at the age of 79, he missed this one which was entered during an exceptional drought by its sump in 1945. Tunnelling to avoid this sump was completed and the cave opened to visitors in 1964.

The route through the cave and the lighting has been very well done.  The whole cave is beautifully coloured and glistens with life.  Time after time, corners are turned to reveal magnificent views of cave scenery, well decorated in general and intricate detail. The ceilings are particularly fine with long straws and erratics in great profusions.

Of all the five caves, this was the most intelligently treated.  Commercialisation, with its ability to provided powerful lighting has brought out the beauties which are normally hidden from the cavers lamp.  No rather vulgar coloured lights, as are used in Aven Armand, are to be found here- simply plenty of white lighting well placed.  This may be one of the most satisfying show caves for the caver that there is.


Monthly Crossword – Number 17.



















































































5. Bit eel cut in Cuthbert’s. (9)
6. How’s that for a commercial cave. (4)
7. Found in crystalline deposit. (4)
8. Direction in which we stagger after Hunters?. (4)
10. Passage wall. (4)
11. Rustled G.G.?  Caved hard in any case. (9)


1. Local parish is without it but we have it. (9)
2. Loud and deep indication of stream. (4)
3. What goes on these sounds plain to us. (4)
4. Keeps feet dry in wet rift passage? (9)
9. Nonmagnetic bearing? (4)
10. Keeps his pot on the Hunter’s? (4)

Solution To Last Month’s Crossword



















































































Hon. Sec: A.R. Thomas. Allens House, Nine Barrows Lane, Priddy, Wells, Somerset.
Hon. Editor: - S.J. Collins, Lavender Cottage, Bishop Sutton, Bristol



Once more, the Annual General Meeting has come round and gone by.  This year produced no real surprises or fireworks, but it was nevertheless most encouraging to see the number of club members who took and active part in the proceedings.

As usual, prospective innovators had a hard time of it.  Pete Franklin’s resolution to separate the dates of the A.G.M. and dinner was defeated by the narrowest possible margin of one vote, but we are reminded that the late Don Coase took two years before he got his proposal to change the date of the A.G.M from the last Saturday in January to the first Saturday in October accepted – so Pete may well win out next year.

Plans for the B.B. to run quarterly were also voted against.  Although the Chairman pointed out that this was not a resolution and thus did not bind the Editor to comply with it, we feel that it would be wrong to introduce a change which runs contrary to club feeling, and thus the B.B. will continue next year and in the future to come out once a month on the same lines as it does now.

Bearing this in mind, it is still proposed to celebrate the quarter century of the B.B. by improving it in a number of directions.  More detailed plans for this will be announced later.


It was carried at vthe A.G.M. that the minutes published in the B.B. should be amended, and the words ‘Phil Coles voting against’ be deleted.  Will all members please note.

Is your address known buy the club?  Address lists will soon be published.  If in any doubt LET ALAN HAVE YOUR CORRECT ADDRESS NOW.

Club Officers

Chairman of the Committee

Ho.n Secretary

Hon. Treasurer

Caving Secretary

Climbing Secretary

Alfie Collins

Alan Thomas

Bob Bagshaw

Tim Large

Nigel Jago

Hut Warden


Minutes Secretary

Belfry Engineer

Dave Irwin

Bill Cooper

Dave Turner

Pete Stobart

Other posts are at present as follows: -

Librarian - Dave Searle; Caving Publications Editor – Dave Irwin; B.B. Editor – Alfie Collins; B.B. Printer – Barry Wilton; Postal Dept. – Kay Mansfield.

From the Caving Log

….an occasional digest of the club’s caving activities

by ‘Wig’

The last three months have been typical for the club’s activities for some time except perhaps for the starting of an outside dig.

On the 10th July, Martin Webster visited North Hill and on the next day went diving in Swildons to have a look at the Sump VI bypass.  Martin says “A little bit of work done in Sump VI bypass, but in needs to be dug out a lot deeper.”  Bill Cooper, our Tacklemaster, has been photographing and Jok has been taking novices down Swildons. On 16th of July, reported that someone unknown was blocking the hole at the lower end of the Water Rift.  On the following day the blockage was completed and on the Sunday (18th July) Tim Large, armed with sledges demolished it completely and, with a small party, removed all the debris left by the builders.

Cwm Dwr in South Wales and Shatter Hole on Mendip were visited by members. Plantation Swallet was attacked by Bill Cooper and Jok.  During the course of the next three months the entrance was excavated and an interesting side rift was discovered.  Swildons still holds the position of being the most visited system on Mendip, except perhaps Cuthbert’s.  Trips to North West Stream Passage; Black Hole; Shatter Series and free diving Sump IX were all undertaken.  Of the lesser caves, Reservoir Hole; Cuckoo Cleeves and the Burrington Area were all noted in then log.  On the 24th August, Swildons III was visited by Martin Webster who, with members of the C.D.G. dug out the Sump VI bypass on the return trip.  Martin states that it’s easier to go through the sump!

A reconnaissance trip to the Merthyr area was undertaken by D. Sanderson on the 20th to 23rd of August and several sites of interest were noted.  On the 22nd of August, a group of members bottomed Rhino Rift, while other caves visited during this time included Nine Barrows; Rod’s; Stole Lane; Eastwater and of course, Swildons.  Dry conditions were encountered when messrs Bogeat and Abbott went to the Black Hole Series in Swildons and on the 11th September and Bill Cooper and Co. who visited Longwood/August on the 11th September.

During September, Pete Stobart, Jok and Co. erected a gigantic structure to ease working in Plantation, while at the same time Martin Huaun was in Spain and was a member of the W.C.C/S.M.C.C./B.E.C. party to bottom their discovery which is some 800ft deep.  Meanwhile, Martin Webster was in Crete and visited Omalos Cave, Governator Caves with Ray Mansfield and Steve Wynn-Roberts.  Work continues at the bottom of Hunters Hole by Pete Stobart, and on the 24th September, Plantation Dig became known as Plantation Chasm Dig!!

On the 29th, Graham Phippen free dived his way to Swildons IX and returned via the notorious Shatter Link. Dan yr Ogof was visited on the 5th September for photographing, as was Pant Mawr pothole.

St. Cuthbert’s has been plodding along quite well, and on the 5th July, Roy Bennett, Bill Cooper, Wig, Peter Rose and Bob Craig commenced work on the Sump II dam.  During the course of the next four weeks, Roy continued to build the dam, helped by Colin Clarke, Wig, Phil Kingston, Pete Eckford, Dave Yeandle, Tim Large and in the last stages Bob Craig came back to finish the dam with usual expertise.  (Replies to this are not printable).

Surveying dominated the scene as well, the Cuthbert’s Survey reaching its final stages – although it took its toll when a boulder fell on Martin Mills in the far reaches of Disappointment Passage.  On the 27th August, Wig, Dave Turner and Grham Phippen visited September Series and noted several unentered passages there.

A large B.E.C. team went to Sump II to drain and bang the blockage on several occasions helped by S.M.C.C. while arrangements were being made to commence digging at the end of Gour Rift. Whether the attempts being made at these sites will prove successful or not remains to be seen.  More next time.

Climbing Sec’s Report

….by the present Climbing Secretary
Nigel Jago

This year has seen much change in the Climbing Section as a whole – with more meets and a general trend towards better attendance at them.

At the start of winter, and throughout the year, Avon Gorge received its fair share of visits with individual members coming back to their old climbing grades thereby performing very well on some of the high grade routes (H.V.S. and X.S.)  Cheddar, on the other hand received few visits, with normal ‘trade routes’ being done.

As the year wore on, North Wales accounted for several weekends when the snow was there.  These did not go without incident as members from our own club were spent on mountain rescues after coming down from gullies.

The highlight of the winter without doubt was the ten day meet at Glen Coe in Scotland, which was very well attended both on snow and rock.  It yielded two fine routes at Glen Etive (Hammer and Spartan Slab – both Scottish V.S.’s.)  Some gullies ‘grade II’ were ascended as the weather poured down sun for eight days. In this bright spell, Aonach Eagach fell to the onslaught of the group which included office staff who, before that day, were believed to have lost the use of their legs!

As in the case of a party large in number, the needs of the tourist element was well catered for by Gerry Otan and Bob White, who did all the chauffeuring.  Evenings were spent traditionally in some bar or other that sold beer – none were giving it away, of if they were, nobody told us about it!

At Whitsun, we travelled to Land’s End.  The first day saw one of our members take to the air and fly with considerable aid from the navy helicopter and a member of the coastguards.  Garry was then rendered armless for the rest of the weekend, after visiting a few old friends in Penzance Casualty Unit.  Sunday was spent at Bosigran.  Derek and I did Little Brown Jug (H.V.S.).  On the easy way down, we heard Fred ‘I-traversed-to-the-right’ Attwell shouting for a top rope which was given to him a after great debate. After reaching the toip, Fred and Pete gave help on yet another rescue – this time not involving a member of the B.E.C.

By reading this far, it is quite easy to understand why we are at times referred to affectionately as ‘part of the Avon Gorge Circus’.

The main event of the year was the Alps.  Without doubt or hesitation.  A rather beery fortnight starting and ending on the ferry boat.  One mountain was topped – the Eiger by its west flank route in the second week by Bob Sell and partner.  Our first camp site was reached at Chamonix after a total of eighteen hours in a not so fast Bedford twelve seater which was some twenty five hundredweight overloaded.  The same day that we arrived, Fred and myself started for the Mulets Hut.  After a gruelling afternoon, a superb bivvi was constructed in the best room of the old Telepherique Hotel at Pierre Pointue on the edge of the Bosson Glacier. After a cold bivvi, we started across the Bosson at eight o’clock, climbing in and out of crevasses when we could not jump them, reaching the Mulets Hut in five hours.  We returned the following morning after rotten guts and lack of sleep and Fred being very disappointed that we did not reach the top.  During our day at the hut, Derek Barrie and Rory tried to reach us by was of the other side of the glacier but failed because of a very deep and wide crevassed area.  The party reluctantly packed themselves into the van the next day for Switzerland which again turned into an irritating drive into Interlaken. Apart from Bob’s ascent nothing was climbed, but most of the sites were toured by the party breaking into smaller groups.

Other members staying in Britain had good summer vacations doing plenty of routes in the main coastal climbing areas.  August Bank Holiday was spent at Land’s End doing classic routes.  Also, club members were responsible for climbing anew route at Chair Ladder area.

We hope to have as good if not better year this year, with all our meets having better attendances even on those cold wet weekends in North Wales!

The club has – amongst hoarded relics of some person or persons unknown – ice axes and guide books, which are getting increasingly hard to trace.  Would these people return the club’s property, so that an accurate record can be made of what we possess?

Caving on Gower

By Graham – Wilton-Jones

On the Friday evening preceding the Spring Bank Holiday, Buckett Tilbury and Graham Wilton-Jones set off up the A40 from High Wycombe for South Wales.  Having avoided some of the holiday traffic jams, we arrived on the Gower just in time to collect the keys for Tooth and Llethrid Caves, and were thus set up for an early start on the Saturday.  Kipping in the van just beside Llethrid Bridge made this situation very convenient.

Above Llethrid Bridge is a wide though shallow catchment for a reasonable sized stream.  Recently, the Gower had been dry and there were several stagnant pools lying on the pebble bed.  Only a small stream flowed, very slowly.  Some two hundred yards below the bridge, the stream sinks into Llethrid Swallet.  The main valley continues down to Parkmill, where the river resurges, over a mile from  the sink.

From the gated entrance, a few yards above the swallet, a steep drop down through boulders gives access to the stream.  The water was so low that we found it difficult to follow as it trickled its way under the jumbled mass of boulders.  Some of these were supposed to be dangerously unstable, but we found none that were loose.  There must be several routes through these boulders – we came through by two separate routes.  Soon the stream was lost altogether and we had to follow our noses.  On two occasions we climbed up into the roof only to find ourselves in a large inlet passage with leaves and wet mud everywhere. Finally we came to a dead end and had to backtrack.  The way on into the big chambers proved to be where I had climbed earlier.  I had only checked one of three possible ways on. Bucket found that a second route that led directly to the Annexe.

The Annexe, and the adjoining Great Hall together form one enormous chamber which must be almost four hundred feet long and well over a hundred feet wide in places.  It is generally not over fifty feet high. Theses chambers are reputedly among the best decorated in Wales, but there is little comparison between the formations here and those in O.F.D. or D.Y.O.  All the formations in the lower part of both chambers are covered with a thin layer of wet blackish mud.  Only the stal in the upper part of Great Hall is free from this mud.  The end of Great Hall is reached by climbing a long boulder slope, and is some hundred and fifty feet above the floor.  Here there are some good pale yellow and white stal and also some good helictites.  The black mud, which covers all formations less that about fifty feet from the floor, indicates that the chambers become submerged to this depth.  Since the streamway continues some hundred feet below the floor of the Great Hall, the water must rise some hundred and fifty feet in extreme flood and this does not seem to be a rare occurrence.

Much of the stal – even columns ten feet long and a foot in diameter – have been broken near the floor and show a shift of between ten and fifteen inches between floor and roof.  A likely cause is that the floor of boulders rests on thick mud, which gradually shifts and steles in a downward direction, thus fracturing any roof to floor stal.  This is perhaps the most spectacular feature of the formations.

After a good look around these chambers, we climbed down a steep hundred foot mud slope and thence into a small chamber.  The floor of this is a very thick spongy mass of wet leaves, no doubt deposited when the system sumps.  A hole in the end drops through the leaves and into a continuation of the streamway. There was no stream – only static pools – and very few of these.  Like others through the cave, they were full of fresh water creatures including the usual shrimps and a white planarian.

In some places, banks of up to two feet thick of twigs had been deposited and subsequently cut through by the stream showing twig stratification.  How much matter reached this spot; over a thousand feet from the entrance and through or over many obstructions, we cannot guess.

After several hundred feet of low or narrow stream passage, we reached the sump pool.  There was a duck in a deep pool, beyond which we could see a larger airspace, but we didn’t bother to go through.  This is being banged in the hope of gaining further passage beyond.

Returning to the big chamber, we spent about an hour taking photographs and then set off out, which only took about fifteen minutes, after a little route finding.  The whole trip lasted just over five hours.

Tooth Cave is a further two hundred yards down the valley.  The entrance has clearly been open for a long time, and the sides have been walled in and a gate put in the middle.  The more narrow passage inside is full of large flies, large spiders and a couple of bats.  A short squeeze brought us to the top of a small (twenty feet in diameter) chamber, whose walls were pure white with dead stal, rather reminiscent of Browne’s Hole.  We descended a fixed ladder and climbed into a rift at the side.  A short way along, we dropped into a mass of boulders and thence to a crawl.  From the guidebook description we had expected an obvious thousand foot crawl to a streamway.  Instead we discovered a complete labyrinth of crawls, with one ‘stand-upable’ passage – all gravel floored; low; thrutchy and horrible.  After about three quarters of an hours and two and a thousand feet of getting nowhere, we called it a day after a one and a quarter hour trip and vowed never to go there again.

Caving Sec’s Report

by Tim Large
Hon. Caving Sec.

The last year has seen quite a few changes in the club and in caving generally.  This has been the first full year of the new Belfry, which has had some bearing on the caving activity.  Our fine new building provides us with all the amenities we need and I am sure that the Belfry showers encourage everyone somewhat, as everyone knows that they can clean up afterwards.

Caving activity has been fairly constant with approximately a hundred trips into Cuthbert’s – the majority of these being working trips ranging through digging, surveying and water tracing.  The remainder were general interest trips and included about twenty five tourist trips by visiting clubs.  On looking through the caving log, I see that there were about two hundred trips during the year October 1970 to September

1971.  Nearly every popular cave on Mendip was visited by members, with Swildons being the most popular as usual.  All the other major caving areas in Britain were visited, all by members arranging their own trips.  During the summer, some members enjoyed the water washed atmosphere of the Irish caves, and from all accounts, it was a great holiday.

Exploration has taken up a good slice of the activity, with members digging at Hunters Hole; Cuthbert’s; Masebury; Second Tier; Emborough and various other sites that might yield results in the future.  Our C.D.G. members have also been involved in exploration work in Wookey Hole and various Welsh caves.

With everyone being mechanised these days, there seems to be a lack of interest in club trips to other caving districts, although club trips on Mendip have been well attended.  One major topic has been the removal; of some unnecessary items of fixed tackle from Cuthbert’s, and the consequent literary onslaught.

A rescue practice was held in Cuthbert’s during November 1070.  The route used was Stal Pitch up the streamway to the top of Pulpit.  All went very well and gave several newer members a chance to take part in rescue procedures for the first time.

All in all, the club has had a year of reasonable activity, and I am sure that once we settle down in the new Belfry and the atmosphere develops into one suitable for a caving hut and not a country cottage, we shall see more caving activity in future years.

Caving Meets

OCTOBER 17TH.           LAMB LEER.  2 pm at the belfry


NOVEMBER 21ST.        CUTHBERT’S LEADERS MEETING.  2 pm at the Belfry

DECEMBER 4TH           RESCUE PRACTICE.  11 am at the Belfry.

For all details of caving meets etc., contact TIM LARGE at 39 Seymour Avenue, Bishopston, Bristol 7.

Lacave and Padirac


Doing show caves while abroad is perhaps the easy way of combining a little caving activity within a normal holiday.  It has the great advantage of getting you underground without having to lug great quantities of gear all over the place.  Even with a car, this can be a problem, particularly when you also want to lug things like collapsible dinghies and outboard motors all over the place as well.

The plan was top spend a couple of days on the way back from Spain in the Dordogne area of France, and we decided to make our base at Souillac. The original idea was to combine visits to showcaves with getting there by by boat on the Dordogne, but after reading the fearsome warnings about what was likely to happen to small boats on the river when the dams higher up were allowed to release water, we decided it might be rather embarrassing to be swept halfway across France on what was supposed to be a two mile journey!

As an aside to the subject of showcaves, it might be worth while for the B.E.C. to start compiling its own list of recommended hotels abroad.  If anybody wants a start, I have stayed in three hotels in Soillac at various times, and they go like this.  Ambassador (on the main road in middle of the town) medium price, friendly service, fantastically good food, thoroughly recommended.  Auberge de Puitys In a small square on the south side of the main road) cheap, rooms reasonable, food reasonable. Good for a cheap single night stop. La Truffiere (on the left side of the main road about six miles before getting to Soillac itself) very expensive, not worth it, not recommended.

Setting off from the Ambassador, we made our way towards the Grotte de Lacave, a few miles from Soillac. The roadside soon becomes plastered with signs saying what a splendid cave this is, and you finish up in the village of Lacave, go into the entrance building, buy your tickets and make your way to the cave mouth where a train awaits.  This thing sets off along an artificial passage which goes fairly steeply upwards into the hillside.  Someone has obviously calculated just how many people the little engine will pull, because it gets slower and slower as it goes upwards, until it almost stops, but eventually arrives at the station.  From there, short passages and flights of steps lead upwards into the cave itself.

The showcave consists of a fairly long upper dry series, long ago abandoned by the stream. Formations are plentiful, but not individually spectacular, and nearly all of dead stal.  Every trick of lighting has been used to wring the utmost effect out of the formations, including the use of ultra-violet lighting (which the French call lumiere noir) and which does not work very well on dead stal. In places, the series has been extensively filled with mud, and they have evolved a very clever type of cement which looks exactly like the mud fill..  This is used to make artificial pools on the floor, in which most of the better formations are reflected.  One is not allowed to take photographs, but these can be bought commercially on leaving the cave.  They are surprisingly good.  There is a pre-recorded commentary which gets switched on at various points in the cave, but my French was not good enough to follow it all, although I managed to get the gist of most of it.  It is just about worth a visit if you happen to be in the area and have time to spare.

The Gouffre de Padirac is a little further from Souillac, and much more interesting than Lacave. You down from the entrance building in a lift which takes you about fifty feet below the surface, then you break into the side of the Gouffre and go down the rest of the way in a lift which runs through open steel, girder work to the bottom.  Comparisons are not easy to make, but the Gouffre from the bottom seems not quite as deep as G.G. but about the same general proportions. From there, you go down to the cave proper.  It is an active cave with a decent stream.  The long horizontal passage from the bottom of the Gouffre has been artificially flooded to a higher level than nature intended, so you can be punted along by typical French punt-drivers, who seem quite unruffled as they void obstructions with other punts going in the opposite way, or steer you straight into an overhanging stal, with a cry of “Gardez la tete!”  Once at the other end of this passage, the trip consists mainly of a tour round the Salle de Dome – a chamber of impressive dimensions.  The formations are live and good.  It seems a pity that the trip has to end with you looking down a streamway of vast proportions along which you may not go.  On the way back, your photograph will be taken, and you may have a print for a large fee.  A wastepaper basket is thoughtfully provided for you to chuck the card entitling you to this service.  One thing which is impresses us was that visitors are expected to get quite wet from some of the places where heavy drip occurs.  The French don’t seem to mind at all!  Again, no photographs are allowed, and the official set is rather disappointing. Even so, it is an interesting place to see.

We meant to do Les Eyzies, and a few others while we were there, but somehow we never got around to it, perhaps the next time.


A reminder.  Annual subscriptions are due on the 31st of January each year.  Any member who has not paid by the 30th of April following can find himself no longer a member of the club.  The committee arte inclined to be much stricter about these rules than they have been in the past.  Constant reminders like this one will appear on odd corners of the B.B.  Start thinking about your 1972 subscriptions NOW.


Members are requested not to drive at speed along the track or into the car park.  Excessive speed churns up the surface and gives the Belfry Engineer a lot of work in putting it back again.

The ash tree by the pool beside the car park was planted there to take some of the bareness away from the site – not as a clothes prop.  Please do not use it to hang old clothes on.

Has anyone a WHEELBARROW they don’t want?  The Belfry Engineer has had his swiped and wants another one.  Can Anyone help?

Monthly Crossword – Number 15.




















































































1. Oriental Mendip Lake? (9)
4. Artificial Aid. (5)
6. Well Mendip underground place to old trog. (3,6)
7. Realistic term for line-shooters. (5)
8. Useful in Yorkshire with or without first letter. (9)


1. Should describe club members. (9)
2. Cuthbert’s pitch. (9)
3. Place with more pitches (5,4)
4. Quiet confused deal for footwork? (5)
5. Musical survey data. (5)

Solution To Last Month’s Crossword




















































































Where you satisfied with the A.G.M. and dinner?  What did you think of the food?  Did you miss not having any entertainment?  Have you got any comments? Suggestions?  Grouses?  WHY NOT WRITE TO THE B.B.?

Hon. Sec: A.R. Thomas. Allens House, Nine Barrows Lane, Priddy, Wells, Somerset.
Hon. Editor: - S.J. Collins, Lavender Cottage, Bishop Sutton, Bristol


Club Membership

In this issue you will find the list of member’s names and addresses.  There are a few more to come, as some people on the list have now paid their subscription for 1971.

For the others, the committee have decided to send them a last appeal in writing instead of this B.B., and we hope that by this means, the absence of some well known names from the address list will prove only temporary.

This same trick will be played again next May, on those who have not paid for 1972 by then.  We sincerely hope that none of our 178 paid up members will be receiving one of these letters instead of their May B.B.

Lastly, on the subject of addresses – if you have moved during the club year FOR PETE’S SAKE let Alan Thomas know – otherwise you and the club will slowly drift apart.  We don’t want that to happen, and we hope you don’t either.

Article Avalanche

“The Editor is always moaning that he hasn’t got enough to put in the B.B.  Why doesn’t he print MY article then?”  Yes, we have a surplus of material at present and we are hoping to get a lot of it out by Christmas.  The onrush of stuff took us by surprise.  Don’t worry, YOUR article will be out soon – and please KEEP WRITING so that we can have a bigger B.B. next year!


The committee would like to place on record their thanks to ‘Jok’ for the fixing up of the book cupboards in the library.

Cuthbert’s Leaders List

The following are the present Cuthbert’s Leaders: -

Roy Bennett; Alan Coase; John Cornwell; Bob Craig (S.M.C.C. guest leader) 31 Cranbrook Road, Bristol 6; Pete Franklin; Tim Hodgson; Dave Irwin; Tim Large; Oliver Lloyd; Phil Kingston; Andy MacGregor; Tony Meadon; Martin Mills (S.M.C.C. guest leader – address not known) Norman Petty; Colin Priddle; Brian Prewer; Mile Palmer; Alan Sandall; Roger Stenner;  Dave Turner; Steve Tuck and Dick Wickens.  Addresses of B.E.C. members will be found in the current address list in this B.B.


We understand that the name chosen by the Shepton Mallet Caving Club for their new headquarters is a closely guarded secret, which will not be revealed until the topping-out ceremony on December 4th.  There would appear to be no truth in the rumour that they are going to call it


Just a Sec

by Alan Thomas

A Conscience Box has been introduced to the Belfry, and is situated by the water heater.  Its purpose is twofold.  It happens sometimes that people stay at the Belfry and use the facilities, or use them by day only and there is nobody to collect their dues – it should now be simple to put then in an appropriately labelled envelope in the box.  The other reason is that the club doesn’t expect to provide hot water for washing after caving.  Therefore if you don’t want to use the showers, and use water from the sink heater instead, you should make a donation toward the electricity.

We have worked very hard over the last few weeks trying to get the list of addresses up to date.  We still have no address for Bill Smart or Colin Dooley.  Please, I repeat, PLEASE, if you change you address, let me know in WRITING.  If you tell someone to pass it on, it all too often gets lost.

The committee’s decision to tighten up on membership has, I believe, been outlined elsewhere. Remember, in addition to you not getting a May B.B., you may well not be able to get it later as a back number, and you MAY have to apply to re-join the club at the committee’s discretion if you pay later.  You will also not be covered by the club’s insurance and cannot remain a Cuthbert’s Leader or obtain C.C.C. permits.

Yet again, we have a new Belfry telephone number.  It is now WELLS 72126.

After the Annual Dinner, when Tom Gage returned to the Belfry site, he found that his tent, groundsheet and water bottle has been stolen.  As his property has not been found since, it was obviously not a good old B.E.C. joke, but just further proof of the need for care around the Belfry, as there still seems to be thieves about.

There is a general invitation to all members of the B.E.C. to a grand Topping-out Ceremony by the Shepton Mallet caving club on December 4th at 3.00 pm.  Their annual club buffet will be on the same day at 8 pm.  Tickets for the buffet price 75p (15/-) in advance from Bob Craig at 31 Cranbrook Road, Bristol BS6 7EL.  STAMPED ADDRESSED ENVELOPES ARE REQUIRED.  Otherwise see him at the Hunters.

On the 20th November, Alan Coase is giving a talk on the Geomorphology of Dan yr Ogof in the Belfry at 7.30 pm.  It will finish in plenty of time for the Hunters later.

The next day (21st November) is the Cuthbert’s Leaders Meeting at the Belfry.  This is at 2.30 pm.

It’s all go.

Caving Report No. 14 will be out in December price 15p (3/-).  It is concerned with last years French Expedition.

The new M.R.O. phone number is now WELLS 73481.  All the Wells numbers have been changed.

Now that we have a set of library bookcases in the library, it is VERY IMPORTANT that anyone who has any library books out return them to the library.  Please give them to the Hon. Librarian, Dave Searle, at Dolphin Cottage, just up the road towards the Hunters from the Belfry, or to the Hut Warden or to me.


Tim Large, our Caving Secretary, has sent in the following which he extracted from the October issue of ‘Climber and Rambler’…

Mountain and pothole rescuers are to get free insurance cover up to £10,000.  In a letter to all Chief Constables, all police authorities have been recommended by the Home office to provide cover from police grants which will give £10,000 for death or permanent disablement and £20 per week for partial disablement for periods up to 2 years.

Climbing from our French Section - 1971

by ‘Kangy’

Too much snow resulted in greatly reduced mountain activity of the South of France section.  Skiing was also badly hit by storms and avalanches, so that only four trips were made.

The first climbing was attempted in June, but avalanche blocked roads restricted the choice of mountain.  Peak Reouvielle was climbed in a total time of twelve hours instead of the usual five, soft snow causing most of the difficulty.  The reward came with a rare ascent of a couloir not normally used in summer.

Later in the year, a party traversed the gorge of Verdon (next best thing to the Grand Canyon!).  Mount Perdu was also climbed by an interesting route called the Canyon of Ordesa which was traversed to the Gortig Hut.  Perdu was climbed from there in two and a quarter hours (par is three).

Perhaps the most rewarding ascent was of the Monbernie, which was made on an absolutely clear day, showing the Pyrenees from end to end.

Easter 1971 Scotland

A list of routes; walks and climbs, with those participating.

Sunday:  An ascent of Stob Coire Nam Lochan was made, crossing the river Coe by a foot bridge between the noses of Gearr Aonach and Aonach Dubh.  A two and a half hour grind brought us to the Coire.  We had lunch and selected Forked Gully.  Right hand, grade two, five hundred feet.  Time taken, one and three quarter hours up to the summit.  We descended by way of Broad Gully – grade one, six hundred feet at speed. G. (Fred) Atwell, R. (Ab) Sell and N. Jago.

The three peaks of Bidean Nam Bian (3,766ft) was traversed by D. Targett, J. Sandcott, G. Oaten, N. Rich and G. Rowles and to midway on the final ridge, R. White and I. Rees.

Monday:  Opposite the campsite, a path leads to Bidean Nam Bian, where we followed the Sunday party as far as the corrie between An-t-Sron and Aonach Dubh, where we made our way to Diamond Buttress on Bidean.  The summit was reached by Central buttress (grade two) seven hundred feet.  By traversing over the summit, a long lazy glissade was made from Stob Coire-nam-Beith to the corrie floor.  D. Targett, G. (Fred) Atwell, R. (Ab) Sell and N. Jago.

Tuesday and Wednesday:  Loch Tieve (Trilleachan Slabs).  These slabs should be visited by all climbing parties for its atmosphere and good quality routes.  Two of the lower grade Scottish V.S.’s were done.  The Hammer (500ft) and Spartan Slab (575ft).  The amazing part about these slabs is that they are only 35 min walk. D. Targett and N.Jago.

Thursday:  Saw a mass assault on Aonach Eagach Ridge.  It gave five hours of good walking and scrambling, with even the most desk-tied airing their lungs.  Note: the weather was so good that shirts were off!  J. Sidcott, N. Rich, G. Rowle, G. Oaten, G. Atwell, D, Targett, R. White, N. Jago.

Friday:  Avon Gorge Circus was in its stride yet again on Buachaillle Etive Mor after what was an easy walk and scramble.  True to form, events did not run in our favour.  From a borrowed guide book we found ourselves on the wrong part of the cliff that was wanted on a route (Shackle route – V. Diff. 165 ft) that must have been 200 feet to the second pitch.  Time look a leading hand.

The retreat was by abseil, which I volunteered for by a two to one majority off a flake.  As I tested for the retrieval of the rope, it was apparent that the two companions would have to climb down.  Spending the next hour and a quartet amused at the somewhat gripped antics of my companions, I stuffed raisings and glucose tablets, waiting for a box of matches.  D. Targett, G. Oaten, N. Jago.

Ogof Cynnes

by Graham Wilton-Jones

Near the highest point of the Heads of the Valley road, it is possible to turn on to a minor road which marks the boundary between Mynydd Lllangattock (under which lies Agen Allwedd) and Mynydd Llangynidr.  One cold blustery, showery Sunday, we drove up this road to its highest point and prepared for a walk to Ogof Cynnes.  Fortunately the moor was clear of mist and low cloud, but a compass was essential. Our first task was to make for a trig point, which was fairly straightforward since the concrete pillar shone brilliant white in the sun and clearly visible for several hundred yards around.  We then had a choice of two courses; we had been given direction of the cave from the trig point and could follow those or we had a map reference for the cave and could aim for this point.  We chose the latter course as the position of certain landmarks revealed that the former course was inaccurate both in distance and direction.  We eventually reached a steep sided, straight Llasifer Valley. We cast around for Ogof Cynnes, and soon found it, exactly according to description, ‘in the east side at the southern end of a narrow, trench like collapsed depression.’

Much of the surface of this moor is millstone grit, and all the collapsed rock in the trench is grit. The cave entrance is through grit, the large quartz lumps of which are clearly visible on water worn surfaces. A narrow vertical shaft leads quickly into an almost square section horizontal passage.  The roof and top of the walls are millstone grit, while the lower half of the passage is in limestone.  Further down the cave, the grit is lost – the passage descends while the surface rises – as the passage becomes a low, narrow, winding rift. There is a large open pot on the right with bats flying about it when we passed, but the large passage at the bottom become impassable.  We had to descend a second narrow, twisting pot further on.  A knotted rope down this only got in the way.  Suddenly, the pot opens out for a further fifteen feet drop. This just free-climbable but we laddered it.  The ladder proved useful for returning the tackle up the pot.

At the bottom of the pot, we came across the first thick mud.  The whole floor of the pot is a deep layer of mud.  There are five passages leading away from the pot.  One is the impassable one from the first pot. A second is water washed clean, but the water sinks in mud and grit.  Two circular section, obviously phreatic, passages on the either side of the pot are entirely filled with mud.  We took the fifth passage, over a steep mud bank in a high rift.  Over the bank, the way on is underneath the left hand wall into a chamber.  The rift does continue, but it narrows down.  One passage from the chamber joins the rift beyond the constriction, in a mass of fallen slabs.  From the chamber, there are other passages, but we did not investigate these, as they tended back to the entrance or the surface.  We continued down the main passage and into the main chamber, via a fixed chain ladder which is not essential.  From the entrance to the main chamber, the passage follows a single set of joints, almost at right angles, which dominate the whole cave.

We turned right out of the main chamber, and after much crawling, walking and climbing we reached a series of boulder chambers.  These must be fairly deep in the cave, although the collapse is from above and there is evidence of bats in here.  There were two inviting black holes between some of the boulders and we set with a couple of crowbars to enlarge one of these.  It took half an hour to remove one boulder.  There was a sizeable cavity below, with solid walls and a roof of loose boulders.  There were two ways on, but both were far too narrow.  The other hole looked more promising.  Having removed a couple of boulders, we were able to squeeze into a narrow rift, which passed the head of a pot.  Fortunately, before descending this, it was discovered that the right hand wall was shattered into an enormous boulder, precariously balanced over the pot in a pile of shattered debris – it even rocked when we brushed against it. The boulder was easily moved, with the anticipated result.  It broke into three smaller boulders, each one blocking the pot.  However, to our surprise; it only took a few blows to force these to the bottom of the pot.

The result of this effort was disappointing.  The large passage merely divided into a smaller, impenetrable passage.  It was interesting to note that the floor here was dry and sandy unlike the rest of the cave.  Clearly, any water that reaches this section disappears very rapidly. There were bat droppings on the floor, considering the difficulties we had in reaching this point, bats do very well.

We returned to the surface cold, weary and rather disappointed.  We had covered about twelve hundred feet in seven hours which shows, perhaps, the severity of the system.  We emerged covered in thick mud from head to foot, feeling twice as heavy s when we had entered the cave.  The tackle was literally twice as heavy.

Ogof Cynnes is not an easy cave to reach, and difficult to find in poor weather.  Nor is it a pleasant cave to be in, and any exploration requires a lot of hard work.  We have covered about a fifth of the total known cave length, and the new passages were only found after much effort.  Furthermore, we had hardly fifty feet of new but rather unimportant extension to show for our effort.

In spite of this, we intend to return in December, to probe some of the less accessible extremities of this system.

Membership List 1971

Editors Note:     To the best of everybody’s knowledge, this list represents the current membership of the B.E.C. (i.e. members whose 1971 subscription has been paid).  It also represents the latest address known to the secretary.  If ANY member knows of any mistake in this list, they are asked to get in touch with Alan Thomas and give him the up to date information.


J.H.S. Abbott

23 Green lane, Hinton Charterhouse, Bath


Miss J.A. Abell

Cleveland Hotel, Pultney Street, Bath


H. Ackroyd

3 Jeffery Close, Bedworth, Warwickshire


P. Allen

7 Westbourne Place, Clifton, Bristol 8


Bob Bagshaw

699 Wells Road, Knowle, Bristol, Avon


Mike Baker

22 Riverside Gardens, Midsomer Norton, Bath, Avon


R. Bater

4 Butterfield Close, westbury-on-Trym, Bristol


Mrs Bater

4 Butterfield Close, westbury-on-Trym, Bristol


Joan Bennett

8 Radnor Road, Wesbury-on-Trym, Bristol


Roy Bennett

8 Radnor Road, Wesbury-on-Trym, Bristol


P. Bird

City Museum, Queen Road, Bristol


Martin Bishop

17 Russell Road, Bath, Somerset


Sybil Bowden-Lyle

PO Box 15, Iganga, Busoga, Uganda


P. Blogg

Hunters Field, Chaldon Common, Chaldon, Surrey


Alan Bonner

Crags Farm Close, Little Broughton, Cokermouth, Cumberland


A.P. Bozeat

14 Oldfield Road, Bath, Somerset


T.A. Brookes

87 Wyatt Road, London, SW2


Viv Brown

3 Cross Street, Kingswood, Bristol


D.M. Bryant

The Shakespeare, Lower Redland Road, Bristol 8


Tessa Burt

66 Roundwood Lane, Harpendon, Herts.


D.A. Byers

301 Cressex Road, High Wycombe, Bucks


J.L. Carter

149 Finch Road, Chipping Sodbury, Bristol


R. Chandler

83 Spring Plate, Pound Hill, Crawley, West Sussex


Colin Clark

18 Church lane, Bedminster, Bristol


Alan Coase

6 Meadow Mead, Rectory Road, Frampton Cotterell, Bristol


Clare Coase

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


Alfie Collins

Lavendar Cottage, Bishop Sutton, Nr Bristol, Somerset


D. Cooke-Yarborough

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


W. Cooper

259 Wick Road, Bristol


Tony Corrigan

48a Talbot Road, Knowle, Bristol 4


Bob Cross

Ordnance Survey office, Elmgrove, Halfpenny Lane, Pontefract, Yorks.


I.M. Daniels

Handsworth, Pilgrims Way, Chilham, Canterbury, Kent


Frank Darbon

2106 14th StreetPO Box 325, Vernon, British Columbia, Canada


Mrs Davies

Camp V, Neighbourne, Oakhill, Bath, Somerset


Len Dawes

223 Southwark Park, Bermondsey, London SE10


Colin Dooley

497A City Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham 17


Ken Dobbs

85 Fox Rd., Beacon Heath, Exeter, Devon


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

The Old Mill House, Barnack, Nr. Stamford, Lincs.


Albert Francis

22 Hervey Road, Wells, Somerset


Joyce Franklin

12 Avon Way, Portishead, Bristol


Pete Franklin

12 Avon Way, Portishead, Bristol


Keith Franklin

c/o Mount Buller, P.O. Victoria, 3723, Australia


M. Fricker

26 Summerhill, St. George, Bristol 5


R.T. Gage

15 Chandag Road, Keynsham, Nr. Bristol


R.C. Gander

2 Rock Street, Croscombe, Wells, Somerset


P. Giles

1 Springfield Way, Hythe. Kent


Keith Gladman

29 Shenfield Road, Brentwood, Essex


S.J. Gazzard

8 Woodbridge Road, Knowle, Bristol


E.M. Glanville

Jocelyn House Mews, Chard, Somerset


K.R. Glossop

37 Caernarvon Road, Keynsham, Bristol


Dave Glover

24 Burnham Road, Tadley, Nr. Basingstoke, Hants.


Jane Glover

24 Burnham Road, Tadley, Nr. Basingstoke, Hants


Steve Grime

Letterewe, Wester Ross, Scotland


Chris Hall

65 Valley View Road, Paulton, Bristol


Nigel Hallet

26 Cotham Vale, Bristol 6


P. Hamm

11 Queens Road, Keynsham, Nr. Bristol


Mrs Hamm

11 Queens Road, Keynsham, Nr. Bristol


Mervyn Hannam

Lowlands, Orchard Close, East Hendred, Berks.


C.W. Harris

The Diocesan Registry, Wells, Somerset


Chris Harvey

Byways, Hanham Lane, Paulton, Nr. Bristol


Dan Hassell

Hill House, Moorlynch, Bridgwater, Somerset


M. Havan

24 Elberton Road, Westbuty-on-Trym, 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


T. Hodgson

26 Dorset Road, Henleaze, Bristol


George Honey

Droppsta, 19044, Odensala, Sweden


B. Howe

48 Martins Road, Hanham, Bristol


C. Howell

128 Lays Drive, Charlton Road, Keynsham, Somerset


P. Hudson

15 Glentawe Park Estate, Wind Road, Ystradgynlais, Wales


M. Hutchinson

32 Woodland Road, Coombe Dingle, 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

c/o Bennett, 8 Radnor Road, Wesbury-on-Trym, Bristol


N. Jago

2 Broughton House, Somerset Street, Redcliffe, Bristol


D.R. Jenkins

26 Whitcombe Close, Kingswood, Bristol


G. Jewell

140 Beaufort Road, St. George, Bristol 5


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


J. Lamb

Broadmeadows, Padstow Road, Wadebridge, Cornwall


Tim Large

39 Seymour Avenue, Bishopston, Bristol


P. Littlewood

27 Chichester Road, Bognor Regis, Sussex.


Mrs Littlewood

27 Chichester Road, Bognor Regis, Sussex.


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

90 Grove Street, Edinburgh, Scotland


Mrs K. Mansfield

Tiny Kott, Little London, Oakhill, Bath


C.A. Marriott

Auernrainstrasse 40, 8406 Winterhur, Switzerland


R. Marshall

Garden Flat 47, Cromwell Road, Bristol 6


T. Marston

50 The Deans, Downlands, Portishead, Bristol


E.J. Mason

11 Kendon Drive, Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol


Tony Meaden

Highcroft, Westbury, Bradford Abbas, Sherborne, Dorset


D. Metcalf

14 Rock Road, Peterborough. Northants.


G. Moore

17 Elsmgrove, Redland, Bristol


K. Murray

17 Harrington Gardens, London SW7


G.E. Oaten

32 St. Marks Road, Bristol 5


J. Orr

c/o The Belfry


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


D. Parfitt

11 Johnson Close, Wells, Somerset


A.E. Pearce

5 Colmer Road, Yeovil, Somerset


J. Pearce

22 Tiverton Drive, New Eltham London, SE9


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


Brian Prewer

East View, West Horrington, Wells, Somerset


Colin Priddle

19 Stottbury, Horfield, Bristol 7


Miss D. Ranford

40 oldfield Circus, Northall, Misddlesex


John Ransom

21 Bradley Rd., Patchway, Bristol, Avon


Pam Rees

7 Coberley, Footshill, Hanham, Bristol


I. Rees

20 Broad Street, Presteigne, Radnorshire


A Rich

Box 126, Basham, Alberta Canada


N. Rich

19 Bishops Manor Road, Manor Farm, Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol


J. Riley

16 Magyar Street, Hughes, Canberra, Australia


Mrs Riley

16 Magyar Street, Hughes, Canberra, Australia


G.G. Robinson

49 Elton Road, Bishopston, Bristol 6



Rectification Flight, R.A.F. Conningby. Lincoln


Miss C. Salisbury

48 Oldfield Park Road, Bristol 8


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


M.B. Slade

31 Hilburn Road, Bristol 5


William Smart

No known address


Dave Smith

14 Severn Way, Tilehurst, Reading, Berks.


J.M. Stafford

Bryger, Bagworth, Somerset.


Harry Stanbury

31 Belvoir Road, St. Andrews, Bristol


Mrs I Stanbury

74 Redcatch, Knowle, Bristol


D. Statham

Dunsmuir, Wimborne Road, Lytchett Maltravers, Poole, Dorset


Roger Stenner

38 Paulton Road, Victoria Park, Bristol 3


Daphne Stenner

38 Paulton Road, Victoria Park, Bristol 3


P.A.E. Stewart

11 Fairhaven Road ,Redland, Bristol 6


P. Stobart

Eriksay, The Avenue, Combe Down, Bath, Somerset


D. Stuckey

34 Allington Road, Southville, Bristol 3


P. Sutton

56 Arley Hill, Redland, Bristol 6


Derek Targett

16 Phillis Hill, Midsomer Norton


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


Miss M.G. Thompson

No Known Address


S. Thompson

51 Howard Road, Redfield, Bristol


M. Tilbury

9 Easton Terrace, High Wycombe, Bucks.


Buckett Tilbury

256 Cressex Road, High Wycombe, Bucks


Anne Tilbury

256 Cressex Road, High Wycombe, Bucks


M. Tilbury

9 Easton terrace, High Wycombe, Bucks.


Gordon Tilly

Jable, Digby Road, Sherborne, Dorset


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

Beech Cottage, Harphill. Cheltenham, Glos.


A. Tringham

Longwood, Beggar Bush Lane, Redland, Bristol


Jill Tuck

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


Steve Tuck

3 Colles Close, Wells, Somerset


Tony Tucker

64 Balcott Road, Knowle, Bristol


Dave Turner

Moonrakers, Brewery Lane, Holcombe, Bath


P. Turner

11 Harper Court, Honnington, Burton on Trent, Staffordshire


S. Tuttlebury

24 Victoria street, Fleet, Aldershot, Hants.


R. Voke

8 Pavey Road, Hartcliffe, Brsitol 3


Mrs D. Waddon

32 Laxton Close, Taunton, Somerset


R. Wallin

164 Bryant’s Hill, Bristol


M.R. Wardlow

31 Anchor road, Kingswood, Bristol


Miss C. Warren

2 The Dingle, Coombe Dingle, Bristol 9


G. Watts

100 Chesterfield Road, St. Andrews, Bristol 6


M. Webster

43 Stroud Road, Patchway, Bristol


Eddie Welch

18 Station Road, Filton, Bristol


Bob White

Chapel House, Nine Barrows Lane, Priddy, Wells, Somerset


P. Wilkins

51 constable Road, Lockleaze, Bristol


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


Alan Williams

Hendrew Farm, Llanderaied, Newport, Mon.


Miss E. Wilkinson

7 Bloomfield Avenue, Bath


R.F. Wing

15 Penzance Gardens, Harold Hill, Romford, Essex


Addendum To List Of Names And Addresses


J.M. Bacon

40 Montreal Avenue, Horfield, Bristol 5.


R.C. Gander

2 Rock street, Croscombe, Wells, Somerset, BA5 3QT


G. Bull

2 Maple Close, Eastcote, Pinner. Middlesex.


Mrs A. Davies

Camp V, Neighbourne, Bath, Somerset.


R. Toms

22 Lancing gardens, Edmonton, London N2.


P. Luckford

80 Wilton Gardens, Shirley, Southampton, Hants.


N. Taylor

Whidden Farm, Chilcote, Wells, Somerset.


Change of address

   R. Chandler                     Flat 3, Crabbat Park, Worth, Sussex.

Monthly Crossword – Number 16.



















































































2. Inside of this inside Cuthbert’s. (3)
5. Cave formation found in damming our stream. (4)
6. Anagram of 5 down. (4)
7. Found yearly in a quagmire. (1,1,1)
8. Associated with climbing more than caving. (4)
10. Lights useless without these underground. (4)
13. Are these holes hot in Lancs? (4)
14. Some low dive? (4)
18. Essential part of 13 across? (3)
19. Notion in Dear’s Ideal? (4)
20. A ‘Yes’ for this sort of cave
21. Fits on 18 across of Cuthbert’s. (3)


1. Wet, backward, alternate passage? (4)
2. Snap-link slang. (4)
3. Anagram of 6 across. (4)
4. Describes dry ways, perhaps. (4)
8. Northern drink. (3)
9. Fitting. (3)
11. Not I! (3)
12. Small 8 down perhaps. (3)
14. Complimentary to ends? (4)
15. Could be found in pedestal form. (4)
16. Caved rapidly? (4)
17. Typical of Mendip. (4)

Solution To Last Month’s Crossword



















































































Hon. Sec: A.R. Thomas. Allens House, Nine Barrows Lane, Priddy, Wells, Somerset.
Hon. Editor: - S.J. Collins, Lavender Cottage, Bishop Sutton, Bristol


Annual General Meeting

As members – apart from those who have just joined the club – should know, our A.G.M. is held each year on the first Saturday in October, and is followed by the club dinner on the same day.  This year, the first Saturday falls on the 2nd and the A.G.M. will be held in Oliver’s Bar, Victoria Street, Bristol.

It should go without saying that everybody who possibly can ought to turn up for the A.G.M.  It is the occasion when every member’s views and votes count as much as every other member’s.  It is YOUR annual chance to instruct the committee how YOU want them to run the club.  It is your chance to question the club officers about the way they have been running things during the year.  Unless you are prohibited by circumstances from turning up, you have very little argument left if things do not go as you would want them to go.  Please turn up and keep our club democratic – besides, the meeting is on licensed premises!

The B.B. in 1972

In our opinion, the question as to whether the B.B. ought to cease monthly publication is not one that should be decided by the A.G.M.  It might well be discussed, but the people who would be most affected by a change to a quarterly are those very people who are not able to get to the meeting.  We have not so far heard a single word from any reader who is in this position.  We will soon have to take a decision.  Doesn’t anybody care?





Tie a knot in something! Don’t forget the A.G.M. and dinner are on Saturday, 2nd of October.  The A.G.M. is at OLIVER’S BAR VICTORIA STREET (almost opposite the Robinson Building).  At 2.30 pm. The Dinner is at Wookey Hole Restaurant. Please try to get to BOTH if you can!

An open meeting of the M.R.O. will be held at Priddy Village Hall at 2.15 pm on Sunday the 7th of November. All club members are invited. Speakers will include Howard Kenny, Brian Prewer and Oliver Lloyd.  There will also be a speaker to present the police angle on cave rescues.

Minutes of 1970 A.G.M.

It has recently been the custom to publish the minutes of the last A.G.M. in the B.B., to save time in reading them at the next meeting.  Ed.

The 1970 Annual General Meeting of the Bristol Exploration Club opened at 2.40 pm at the seven Stars, with 35 members present.

Election of Chairman.  It was proposed by Alfie and seconded by Tim Hodgson that ‘Sett’ be elected Chairman. There were no other nominations. The chairman asked for members resolutions.  There were none.  The minutes of the last A.G.M. had been published, and Bob Bagshaw proposed that they be taken as read.  This was seconded by Mike Palmer and carried.

Hon. Secretary’s Report.  This had previously been published in the B.B.  The Chairman asked for comments, but there were none.  John Riley proposed the adoption of the report. This was seconded by Tim Hodgson and carried by the meeting.

Hon. Treasurer’s Report.  In addition to his previously published report, the Hon. Treasurer announced that the accounts had been audited.  The Chairman asked whether the Hon. Treasurer could go through the accounts for the benefit of members present.  The makeup of the accounts was then explained.  The Chairman asked where the I.D.M.F capital appeared in the financial statement.  The Hon. Treasurer said this was an asset and hence not shown.  The Chairman asked how much we had in the kitty after all debts had been paid.  The Treasurer said this amounted to about £340.  Alan Thomas asked whether we were satisfied with the new Belfry, and reminded the meeting that there was an outstanding amount of £160 which did not get paid unless the Belfry Engineer said that all was well.  The Hon. Treasurer said that the amount quoted included this sum and that we would have £500 in the kitty if this sum were not paid. Jok Orr asked about the cattle grid, but the Hon. Treasurer said this did not apply.  Mike Palmer suggested an inspection by Pat Ifold before the remaining £160 was paid.  The Hon. Treasurer said that Pat had, in fact, carried out the inspection, and Jok said that in that case he was satisfied.  The Chairman then asked whether we could put forward a proposal to pay the remaining sum.  This was proposed by Jok and seconded by Alfie, and carried nem. con.  Bob said that, since the published account, he had paid the insurance and also money to Brian Prewer.  The Chairman asked if we could expect to have £200 in hand after all contingencies have been met, as a working amount for the year to come.  The Treasurer replied that there would be adequate funds, and that he was satisfied with the club’s liquid position.  This statement was cheered by the entire meeting. Alfie suggested that the meeting should formally congratulate the Treasurer.  Mike Palmer moved a formal vote of thanks, and this was seconded by Alan Thomas and carried unanimously.

Alan Thomas proposed that Doug Parfitt be given a Life Membership for services rendered.  This was seconded by Tim Hodgson and carried nem.con.  Alan also proposed that the Treasurer pay back the outstanding loan so that the Belfry account would be cleared.  This was seconded by Mike Palmer and carried nem. con.  Tim Hodgson asked whether the club funds would now be enough to cope with any reasonable demand on them.  Alan asked Tim what he thought a reasonable demand might be, and said that the only reasonable demand he could foresee would the buying the entrance to Cuthbert’s, which was being negotiated.  It was proposed by Alfie That the Treasurer’s report be adopted.  This was seconded by Andy MacGregor and carried unanimously.

Caving Secretary’s Report.  Further to the published report, Mike Palmer asked whether the Caving Secretary was of the opinion that all club meets had been poorly attended. Dick Wickens replied that it was a caving meet – not all of them.  The adoption of the report was proposed y Andy MacGregor and seconded by Mike Palmer, and carried nem.con. by the meeting.

Climbing Secretary’s Report.  The Chairman noted that no report had been published, and that the Climbing Secretary was not present at the meeting.  Alan said that he understood that the Climbing Secretary would not be standing again.  The Chairman asked whether the meeting felt he had been a good Climbing Secretary. Kangy said that the meeting might care to express its disappointment at not having any climbing report.  Tony Meadon said that perhaps something would yet appear in the B.B. and, on the Chairman’s suggestion, made a formal proposal that the Climbing Secretary be asked to produce a report for the B.B.  This was seconded by Roy Bennett and passed by a vote of 23-1, Phil Coles voting against.

Tacklemaster’s Report.  Arising from this, Mike Palmer asked if we were still losing tackle and reminded the meeting that tackle should always be booked in and out.  He asked whether this was still being done and whether any offenders were being actively chased up to return tackle.  The Tacklemaster replied that the book was still in existence and was being taken seriously as far as he could tell.  Mike Palmer proposed that the new committee look into the subject of tackle losses and the mislaying of tackle.  Pope proposed that some lightweight tackle be kept in the Belfry. Alfie said that there was a danger of lightweight tackle being damaged in the hands of inexperienced cavers. This was agreed by Roy Bennett. Alan Thomas said that he also agreed with the last two speakers and pointed out that lightweight tackle deteriorates much more rapidly that normal weight.  Brian Prewer said he accepted all these arguments, but thought that some of this tackle should be available to members.  He wondered whether Dave Searle would be prepared to store some at Dolphin Cottage.  Kangy asked how we would stand for liability.  He suggested that we might be increasing our chances of a claim.  Tim Hodgson proposed a formal resolution, which was seconded by Pope that about sixty feet of lightweight be kept on Mendip in charge of a suitable person.  The proposal was defeated by a vote of 7-14.  It was proposed by Tony Meadon that the Cuthbert’s entrance ladder be kept in the Belfry rather than the tackle store.  This was seconded by Brian Prewer.  Dave Turner suggested that the ladder be locked with the same key as that for Cuthbert’s.  A discussion followed and the Chairman finally accepted a proposal that ‘The Cuthbert’s entrance ladder be kept in the Belfry and made available to Cuthbert’s leaders only by the most suitable method to be devised by the committee’. Voting in favour of this proposal was unanimous.  It was then proposed by Tim Hodgson and seconded by Kangy that the Tacklemaster’s report be adopted.  This was carried. nem. con.  John Riley proposed a vote of thanks to the Hon. Tacklemaster for keeping the tackle in such good order.  This was duly seconded by Kangy and carried with one vote against.  The Chairman, winding up this discussion on tackle, suggested that the new committee might well chase up the tackle position at regular intervals throughout the coming year.

Hut Warden’s Report.  It was proposed that the published report be accepted by Bob Bagshaw.  This was seconded by Jok and carried nem. con.

Belfry Engineer’s Report.  The Belfry Engineer was asked to read his report amid general acclaim. Brian Prewer suggested that the matter of the cattle grid and Walt’s continuing use of it should be left to next year’s committee to deal with.  This was seconded by Andy and carried nem. con.  The Chairman proposed a vote of thanks to the Engineer.

Hon. Librarian’s Report.  In the unavoidable absence of the librarian, his report was read to the meeting by Alfie.  Alan Thomas said that the plan was to move the library to the new Belfry as soon as possible.  The Chairman directed the committee to look into this matter.  The adoption of the report was proposed by Dave Turner and seconded by Mike Palmer.  It was carried nem. con.

B.B. Editor’s Report.  Alan asked the Hon. Editor what was being done about the postal department.  Alfie replied that John and Val Ransom had volunteered to take it on.  The report was adopted by the meeting, the proposal being by Mike Palmer and seconded by Tim Hodgson.  It was carried unanimously.

Caving Publications.  Bob Bagshaw read the report.  It was proposed by Alan Thomas that the report be adopted and this was seconded by Bob. The proposal was carried nem. con.

Other Business.  Brian Prewer proposed that since the cost of electricity had risen so much, the committee be instructed to look into the provision of a tariff meter.  This proposal was seconded by Mike Palmer and carried nem. con.

There being no further business, the Chairman declared the meeting closed.

Lewis Railton

It is with regret that we record the passing of Lewis Railton.  A founder member of the cave research Group of Great Britain, he did much in the early days of caving to transform it into a respectable scientific field of study, and is probably best known amongst B.E.C. members for his work on surveying in collaboration with Butcher.  He was associated with caving in South Wales right from the beginning and was one largely responsible for fostering interest in the region.  We extend our sympathy to his friends and relatives.

Hon Sec’s Report

Again this year I have carried out the usual amount of routine work of administration – enquiries from new members, liaison with other clubs and so on.  The committee has met 12 times since the last A.G.M. and there has been no difficulty in obtaining the required quorum.  We were handicapped by the resignations during the year of Norman Petty and Pete Ham.  Norman had, for many years, been the mainstay of the club, and Pete had done much useful work during his short time in office. As a result, there were more that the usual number of co-options during the year – with Attwell, Cooper, Irwin and Stobart being involved.  Finally, as the club year drew to an end, we were extremely sorry to receive the resignation of Pete Franklin from the post of Hut Warden, which he has discharged very well under difficult circumstances.

The B.E.C.’s social highlights during the year were probably the presentation of a solid silver tankard to Norma Petty and the binge which accompanied it; and the first ever indoor barbecue – we have never had a Belfry big enough to hold it in before and have always been dependant on the weather.

On the political side, the most important event was the formation of the Council of Southern Clubs Limited, of which I am a director.  Policy precludes publishing details, but anyone who wants to know what is going on can ask in person.

The acquisition of more land from the paper mill is proceeding, but is of necessity a slow process as their head office naturally does not give it a high priority.  We have had more trouble over Mr. Foxwell’s right of way, but I do not think it is beyond the capacity of the new committee to sort it out.

After protracted negotiations, the M.R.O. has established its store at the Belfry.  Part of the old stone building has been fitted out as the rescue store.  The door is secured by a combination lock the number which is known by all M.R.O. Wardens and myself, from whom it can be obtained in an emergency.  The M.R.O. has also paid for the installation of the telephone in the Belfry and they pay two thirds of the rent.  The store, phone and notice board may be visited by the duty wardens each month, and they should always be made to feel welcome at the Belfry, which is now effectively the rescue centre for Mendip.  On the event of a call-out, ring WELLS 3481 as before – NOT the Belfry.

Hon Treasurer’s Report

The most disturbing feature of the financial statement is the very low figure of £137-52 for subscriptions.  Although last year’s figure of £236/17/6 was inflated by 3 life memberships and one joint life membership, THERE ARE ABOUT SEVENTY “MEMBERS” WHO HAVE NOT PAID AS AT 11.9.71.  There are only 164 members of which 54 are life members.

The deficit of £333-16 for the year was, of course, caused by non-recurring expenditure of £400 on the Belfry.

Since the accounts were prepared, I have applied for and received the sum of £21-70 recoverable from the M.R.O. towards the telephone.

There is a further six month’s interest due to the Ian Dear memorial Fund but this has not yet been entered in the pass book by the National Savings Bank.  I am at present trying to convince the inspector of taxes that the club is not liable for income tax.,  When this has been resolved I shall be able to re-consider investment of the fund.

In conclusion, I should mention that I have plenty of club ties in stock and I have ordered twenty car badges.  Do you want one?

B. B.  Editor’s Report

The B.B. has, unfortunately, had a typical year in 1971.  Post Office strike; shortages of material, printing and postal department troubles have all contributed to the familiar sorry pattern.  Two issues had to be telescoped.  We stagger, as usual, from one crisis to the next.

Next Year, in spite of all this, the B.B. celebrates its quarter century of publication.  I would like to see a real effort made to rise to this occasion.  Firstly, we must get rid of the crisis.  I am prepared to continue the editorship and preparation of the stencils, which has not been a holding factor.  It would be a good thing to go over to the use of offset lithography.  We have the machine but we want THREE volunteers, each of which would be prepared to print the B.B. if the other two were sick or away. I sincerely hope that Kay Mansfield will continue to distribute the B.B., and there are plans for making her job less of a burden.  These moves will only leave one source of trouble – that of a lack of material. This can be best overcome by publishing quarterly – and a lot of behind the scenes discussion has been going on about this move.  However, it is recognised that a quarterly would largely remove the up to date aspect of a club served by a monthly publication, so a compromise has been hammered out in true British fashion.  Another point which must be faced is that of rising costs.  We must remember that one of the prices we have had to pay for the new Belfry is the large proportions of life members now in our club.  These all get B.B.’s but no longer contribute.  Yet another thing to bear in mind is the need to go eventually to A4 size paper.  We need a solution to all these factors, and we need it NOW – to start the second quarter century properly – rather than to have them forced piecemeal upon us.

How I propose to get round all these points in an acceptable manner is as follows.  In each year, starting next January, the January and February B.B.’s will be simplified newsletters, with notices, dates of meets etc., and some brief matter as to what is going on.  They will be sent to all members on a list of people not normally in touch (i.e. members who cannot reasonably be expected to pick up a copy at club or at the Belfry).  Other members will be able to obtain these at club or Belfry, and there will be a copy posted up on a special board at the Belfry each month.

Each third month, starting in March, a large B.B. will be produced and sent to all members.  This will be AT LEAST SIXTY PAGES IN SIZE and will contain reprints of such notices that are still of interest from the January and February B.B.’s plus the short newsletters.  The January and February B.B. issues will not be numbered, but the March one will be (in volume order as at present).  Thus, collectors will only have to bother with the four large issues for permanent retention.  The March issue will be available some two weeks BEFORE publication date, and members on the ‘Locals list’ will be asked to try to pick up their copy from the Belfry or club to save postage.  If they cannot do this, then their copy will be sent to them automatically on publication day.

This scheme will enable members who live away to stay in touch and the club to publish news items while they are still news; it will also enable a sensible sized magazine to be enjoyed by members.  It will also enable the newsletter issues to be considered as ‘throw away’ matter while keeping the large issues.  Members who pick up their large issue will get it slightly earlier.  A specimen copy of both types will be on display at the A.G.M.

Finally, the Editor would like to draw the attention of the club to the fine work done behind the scenes by Barry Wilton – our printer, by Kay Mansfield – our Postal Department, by Steve Grime – our ‘writer of the year’ and by all those who help with articles, advice etc.  The post-box scheme has, after the first outburst of anonymous filth, been a success. Please support the B.B. even more next year and help us to set the pace in the field of caving journals.

Financial Statement for the Year to the thirty first of July 1971





Seven Stars Levy









Car Badges







Post Office Savings Bank Interest




Annual Dinner:





Less Costs











Bankers Orders




Interest on Deposit account






















Final payment on building



Final loan repayment


Plumbing, electrics, gas etc


Cattle Grid









Less Receipts



Postages and Stationery etc.




B.B. Postage






Less sales







Less fees



Public liability insurance




Income Tax



Exhibition Photographs



Cambrian Caving Congress

(2 years)


Cave Research Group

(2 years)


Charterhouse Caving Committee



Telephone (£21 – 70 recoverable)








FUNDS @  31.7.70



Less deficit for the year



FUNDS @  31.7.71



I.D.M.F. accumulated income to







National Savings Bank Account




Lloyds Bank Ltd Deposit Account


Cash in hand







Accumulated income to 31.7.70




Interest on £310 5½% National

Development Bonds 15.1.71


Accumulated Income @ 15.1.71




Caving Publications Report

Little movement in the direction of new reports was made until my return to this country during June this year – although the Roman Mine manuscript was edited whilst I was in the U.S.A.

During the last few months, preparation of the Cuthbert’s report is under way again.  Rabbit  Warren has been published and three other parts are almost ready for the printers (September, Cerberus and Maypole & Rabbit Warren extension.)

Roma Mine is to be published at the A.G.M., 1971 and should prove to be an important addition to the B.E.C. Caving Report Series.  Future publications include the remaining sections of the Cuthbert’s Report which will all be out within the next year.

Two more reports are in the state of preparation – the Burrington Atlas and John Etough’s magnificent collection of photographs of Balch Cave.  Although the cave has been destroyed, it remains a valuable pictorial record.  The cost will be about 50p and if anyone is interested in a copy, please contact me.

Printing standards have been improved and will continue to do so.  It is hoped that shortly the caving reports will be produced commercially and this will result in improvements to the type face and general appearance.  A change of format and front cover is being studied and in all probability, it will result in the series having photographic covers and becoming A4 in size.

I would like to thank Gordon Tilly, Barry Wilton and the many others who are involved with the production of the caving reports.

Don’t Pay Bob

… the dinner.  He would rather enjoy the dinner like you will – without having to run around getting money out of YOU.  PLEASE pay him your sub (if outstanding) or next years (if you want to give him a real fright) AND your dinner money at £1.30 (or 26/- in old money) per head.  Send it to Bob at 699 Wells Road, BRISTOL  BS14 9HU


Finally a new slant on the fixed tackle controversy from our Hon. Sec. Alan Thomas…..

The Editor, Belfry Bulletin.

Dear Sir

Why should a distinction be made between fixed and other tackle?

I am not brilliant at climbing on the rock, but if I need a ladder it makes little difference to me if it is suspended from above or resting on the ground.  But it makes a big difference to the Tacklemaster!!  A fixed iron ladder cost virtually nothing and lasts for years.  An electron ladder costs a great deal; takes hours to make; needs constant care and is short lived.  Why not, if we are visiting the same places frequently, leave the iron ladders in position.

                        Alan Thomas

Monthly Crossword – Number 14.





















































































3. The way back. (1,4)
6. Cave pearls, for example. (4)
7. First and last in me down Goatchurch. (4)
8. Upper end of last part reversed. (3,3)
12. Artificial aid for red lad. (6)
14. Backwards detailers adorn caves. (4)
15. Lound and low stal deposit. (4)
16. This dry? (5)


1. A tree in Cuthbert’s. (5)
2. Inexpensive type of climb. (4)
4. Gone to II? (6)
5. Backward eastern animal collection in G.B.. (4)
9. One of the annual trio in the B.E.C. (6)
10. Getting louder boring device makes slow progress in a cave (5)
11. Cider can this metal. (4)
12. Taken to, well soused, in song. (4)

Solution to Last Month’s Crossword