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Belfry Bulletin Vol. 2 No. 10


March 1948

BIRTHS On Wednesday Feb. 25th., to Betty and Johnny Shorthose, a daughter, Mary Elizabeth. Mother and Daughter both doing well. Heart Congratulations to mum, and dad, and welcome to the ‘Young Ides’. EDITOR’S NOTES I have heard that Alfie Collins hopes to be in double harness at Christmas. %%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%% At the request of a number of Members we are printing the ‘Votes List of Candidates for the 1948 Committee’: T.H. Stanbury, 33; D.A. Coase, 26; D.H. Hassell, 25; A.M. Innes, 20; J.C. Weekes, 19; R.A. Setterington, 18; G.T. Lucy, 15; G. Fenn, 12; L.D. Pain, 5. The Committee have decided to co-opt R.A. Setterington to the Committee because of the difficulty D.A. Coase finds in getting down for meetings. ******************************** PROGRAMME FOR MARCH, APRIL AND MAY 1948 Saturday Sunday Saturday Sunday Saturday Sunday

13th March: - Swildons Hole 21st March: - August Hole and Longwood 10th April : -Burrington, General Caving 18th April : - Eastwater 8th May : - G.B. 18th May : - Stoke Lane Lower Series $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$


By R.M.W.

The mere mention that there is a new book by Casteret should be enough to start a rush on the nearest bookshop. ‘My Caves’ has just been published by Dent’s at 15/-. This is a chronological sequence to ‘Ten Years under the Earth’, and brings us up to 1939, but differs in some respects from that wonderful book. In this, only one cave is dealt with in detail. The author describes very vividly the efforts he made to bypass a trap in the cave of Labouiche, which required considerable efforts in climbing and penetrating squeezes, only to find on regaining the river, that a further trap still barred the way. This he has not yet attempted to pass. The second chapter deals with some of the Basque Pot-holes which he descended (with the aid of a winch and some terrifyingly thin cable) in company with Max Cosyns and Vander Elst – both one time stratosphere balloonists. The remainder of the book is devoted to caving in general and a survey of facts and figures. He also discusses his own equipment, most of it little if any different from that familiar to us. His ladders, however, do not appeal to me. He pins his faith in 1/8” steel wire with magnesium alloy rungs, weighing only about 1oz/ft. He has 1600ft. of this – imagine about one Belfry full of B.E.C. Ladder!

BB10. 2 The final very interesting chapter records three years research into the habits of bats – their life-cycle, feeding and migratory habits. For some species do migrate, though why and how far remains a mystery. Some of the bats he observed and ringed successfully returned to their cave when released 180 miles away, although another group failed at 400 miles. In the introduction, Casteret say, “Everything I have described has been observed in the Pyrenees. I make no claim to ownership……but in many cases I have discovered and explored them. Visits to 700 caves…are I think a justification for the title’. He does not claim it as a handbook or compendium, but rather a tale of adventure. Nonetheless much can be learned from these pages by a past master of the subject and even though he insists he is only an Amateur and ‘dilettante’, he is beset by many correspondents for suitable caves for exploration. One from Morocco said he had seen many large pots in the Apennines. It is only in the Postscript he bothers to mention that he refers to the openings in the Moon, which he has been studying in a telescope. I feel this to be the work of a more sober man than the author of ‘Ten Years’. His lone forcing of the Montespan siphon in 1922 was, it seemed to me, a foolhardy risk, and as such he now recognises it. While he still prefers solitary exploration, he can in no case advise anyone to venture alone into the dark labyrinths below…….’Do what I say, and not what I do’. The translation by P.L.G. Irving, and very well done too. In one place only was I conscious of the fact I was reading a book originally in another language, and that is a very difficult thing to achieve. Even a bad translation of ‘Mes Cavernes’ would have been better than none, but a very good one rejoices the heart. 26 photographs and a final touch to a book you must beg, borrow or steal (or you might even buy it – it’s well worth it!!). ********************* A copy of the above book is now in the Club Library. (Ed.). ********************* NORTH WALES CAVES (Conclusion) by A.C. JOHNSON Between Pantymevyn and Cilcain a dozen miles south of Holywell and 3 miles west of Mold, the River Alyn runs through a deep narrow valley. I say runs, but it only appears in flood as its spends the rest of it’s time underground in old lead workings which it enters a mile or so upstream, not far from a pub boasting the name of ‘We Three Loggerheads’ commonly called ‘the Logger’eds’. Up till 1939 there used to be a spar quarry on the east bank of the river. The spar was quarried originally from a rift 20ft. wide. When they got into the rift for about 200ft. they broke into the end of an enormous rift chamber about 120ft. high and about 30ft. from the deck. This only left them 50ft. instead of 140ft. to quarry so they left it. The chamber is about 50 out of vertical. The bottom of the chamber is filled with water that should have been in the river outside. The chamber stretches back into blackness although your sight is hampered by a remarkable vertical buttress that stretches about two-thirds up the left hand wall and connects up with a vertical inverted buttress coming down from the roof and attached to the other wall, forming a huge arch in the bottom right side above the water and an equally large doorway in the top left side. The whole thing is so far as in as to be in gloom but I have a sneaking feeling that is made of stalactite. A person with more energy than sense might possible climb the left wall into the doorway as there is a slight horizontal bulge running along the wall, having an upper surface as about 55 degrees to the horizontal. The water which appears by the sound of it to be very deep, is divided at the limit of sight by a large spur, but as there is still about 100ft. headroom further progress should be possible. A dingy would be needed for exploration but a paddle steamer would be alright for size. Just about 50yds. up the riverbank is a real scorcher of a cave entrance all choked by greenish stalactite. It is about 25ft. long and about 10ft. high. Several promising holes peep out round curtains of the stuff and a chisel and hammer might reveal great things. Even more hopeful is a corkscrew aven in the roof all covered in stalactite, which is the most impressive one I have seen. By its position, this is most likely an outlet cave and there is plenty of room under the hill so it may go. To return to lead mines, about half a mile

BB10. 3 further on is the most shaky piece of mining engineering I have ever seen; just right for exploration by Johnny Morris. A level has been driven into the rock near one end of a 100ft. cliff, but it must have been unsafe and they continued it for about 70ft. high. Then they stuffed it full of props to keep the walls apart. The two walls are not just masses of loose stone; most of the props near the entrance have gone and those further in have been removed by about 50ft. of the roof collapsing. The first 50ft. was only saved by the roots of two big oak trees it seems. Anyway a rope over one of those props would probably fetch it all in, as stones start miniature avalanches. In the field above there is a line of open shafts with large slab walls about 8ft. in diameter. There are about 20 shafts dotted about on the side of the valley; and up towards The Loggerheads the O.S. mark a place called Gulles Cat Hole, that none of the locals know. There are a number of quarries in the area and I believe that small caves were found and may still be open, but I do not know at the present anything more but will try and investigate soon. The hills to the west of the valley rise to the Clwydian range, where some magnificent hill walks can be obtained. The highest peak, Moel Famman, 1820ft. has the base of a monster cairn on top but the builders must have thought that is wasn’t worth lugging the stone that far. From here fine views can be had especially toward Snowdonia. It seem to me that North Wales has been sadly neglected, but under this present ---** petrol situation it will have to wait. All the caves I have seen have been within a mile of bus routes and ½ mile of a road, so they are all accessible like those on Mendip. Also the owners of the land surrounding the cave entrances don’t seem too bad in fact they seem almost interested. ****************************** Tony Johnson has asked that any information about this area please be passed to him. (Ed.). ****************************** We have some letters from Terry Reed. He is still infesting Trinidad now and has found some caves there; we shall print his notes all being well in the next issue. ****************************** We have decided to publish lists of members and their addresses so that members who live adjacent to each other, may know their neighbours. List of members. T.H. Stanbury, Hon. Sec. D.W. Jones D.H. Hassell R.W Wallace G.A.B. Tait F.A. Edwards J.V. Norris S.C.W. Herman P.J. Bagshaw G.S. Fenn

74. Redcatch Road, Knowle, Bristol 4. 18. Highbury Road, Bristol 5. Hill House, Noorlynch, Nr Bridgwater, Somt. 2, Springleaze, Knowle, Bristol 4. 35. Lawrence Grove, Henleaze, Bristol. 14 Tuegla Terrace, Bristol 8. Ye Olde Jolly Sailor Inn, Teignmouth, Devon. 34. Jubille Road, Knowle, Bristol 4. 11 Hill Crest, Knowle, Bristol 4. 29. Kinsale Road, Knowle, Bristol 4. %%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%


BB10. 4

Belfry Bulletin Number 010