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Belfry Bulletin BRISTOL EXPLORATION CLUB Vol. 3 No. 23

May 1949

The Printer Apologises First for the lateness of the April BB, which was due to matters beyond his control. Secondly for the bad print of No.22. His apprentice ‘hadn’t a clue’ how the duplicator worked and did his best in his ‘Bosses’ absence. Thirdly for the paper in this issue. We are out of stock of our usual brand and this is all we are able for the time being, to get. Lastly to those unfortunates who will find that page six has been printed upside down. This certainly has added a touch of the unusual to the BB, and was due to one of those errors that creep into the best of regulated printing establishments. J. Caxton **************************** Trip to France Names are rolling in, and though rather early to pass any comment it appears that a really good party will go. No details, other than those already circulated, are to hand but those whose names have been handed in will be notified as and when the details arrive. Maps of the area can be obtained from the Automobile Association, Sheet 767 of Michelin Maps is the relevant one, and also sheet 93 The Rhone Valley. ***************************** Caving Helmets Owing to high pressure research work on the part of the Committee we are pleased to announce that we are able to sell caving helmets at a new low price of 6/6. This is quite a saving on the old price. They will be ordered each month, with a delivery of about 14 days after the firm’s receipt of order. ****************************** TWO CAVERS GO CLIMBING by D.A. Coase. Having seen and immediately obtained a small booklet entitled ‘Sandstone Climbs in S.E. England’, the first fine Sunday (Jan 30th.) found Geoff Ridyard and the writer boarding a Greenline Bus for East Grinstead. A two mile walk followed, through delightful country, until, turning up a track, Stone Farm Rocks were reached. First things first, so we sat on top of one of the rocks and had lunch. The situation of the rocks couldn’t be better. The outcrop, which nowhere is above 25ft. high runs East and West and faces South, looking over a wide valley with the infant River Medway beneath (which by the way exhibits some very nice meander loops). The far side of the valley rises towards Ashdown Forest. But to business, so we donned our plimsolls, for nailed boots are barred, owing to the damage they would do to the rock, which is a soft, yellowy-brown sandstone. The first climb we tried ‘East Jordan’, a youngster had blithely danced up whilst we lunched, and Geoff seemed to manage it without trouble, but I found it quite an effort. Then, our enthusiasm aroused, we started on ‘Key Climb’. This involved straddling up between two blocks for ten feet, then swinging on to the main rock and climbing a narrow chimney to the top. The fun was swinging over to get into the chimney. Geoff, after a struggle got across, but I got stuck completely and had to jump off and start again. I might add we hadn't a rope, we had discussed taking to clothes line but decided that wasn’t quite the thing. The second attempt by climbing I found easy. We then wandered along the outcrop, climbing anything we thought we could manage. One boulder about 12 feet high gave us fun owing to the overhang at the base, but after trying four or five times and falling off (about 4 feet), we conquered it.


BB23/2 On ‘Inaccessible Boulder’ again we had the same problem, with an overhang to get onto a ledge traversing round the rock about 8 feet up. It wasn’t until later that we found the easy way up. From here three routes lead to the top. Two were immediately dismissed as beyond us, and the third again an overhang, wasn’t so nice. At last Geoff gave me a shoulder to stand on and once up I saw an obvious handhold that was invisible from below. Then with my moral assistance Geoff managed it. Although this climb is graded as an "easy difficult" we both found it quite a problem. Another climb we tried, involved traversing along a narrow ledge and then climbing the ‘nose’ of the boulder. In its self, it was quite easy, but to complicate matters a holly tree grew against the face. As I swung on top of the rock, my posterior pivoted out from the face, straight into the prickliest part of the tree. To finish up, we tackled a slightly tougher climb. Quoting the guide book ‘Stone Farm Chimney’ (Easy Severe) Face R. The tight overhanging portion is made by monkeying up the front flake, A Delightful Climb’. (The underlining is the writer's). The chimney starts off about two feet wide, just too narrow to chimney decently then, about ten feet up, it narrows to about nine to twelve inches. The instructions are to climb the flake, but my caving instincts coming to the fore, I swarmed up in the chimney. Geoff and I both got up eventually but it was more by BF and BI than orthodox climbing. So we called it a day, just as the sun set, and walking back in the gathering dusk a very necessary pot of tea, after which we caught the bus back home, two tired but very happy cavers, bitten by a new bug. D.A.C. **************************** THE BELFRY New Lining Sheets are being purchased for the Belfry Mk. II, and should have arrived by the time this BB reaches you. Will all those with time to spare please turn out and help to finish off the interior so that the ‘Painting Squad’ can take over. The wiring of the interior of the new hut has been completed and points are being provided for such luxuries as electric razors and flat irons. It is to be expected as a result of these innovations that an entirely new species of Homo Subterraneanis will make his appearance on Mendip complete with neatly pressed overalls and a face as smooth and clean as a baby’s back. By the way for the benefit of the newer and younger members: Do not in any circumstances start or try to start the motor-generator. The set has been recently damaged by someone whose enthusiasm outweighed his discretion so that having ‘made it go’, he couldn’t stop it and the engine suffered in consequence. The two batteries are always left charged so that anyone using the hut will have adequate lighting. Of course if the radio is left on all the time the batteries will discharge faster and members are asked to use their common sense as to how long they use it. Setterington who is Hut Warden has charge of the generator and he alone, or someone personally delegated by him at the time, has authority to touch it. As the new hut nears completion, the day for ‘moving in’ draws nearer. The hew hut will be a very different place from the old one, and the Chairman of the Belfry sub-committee has been asked to draw up a list of those things which members using the huts are expected to observe. This list, which will be circulated to all members, will be regarded, as provisional, and we shall welcome suggestions, in writing, please, and/or amendments from all members. T.H. Stanbury *************************** The most Hectic Caving weekend for some time was undertaken at Easter. Over thirty persons slept at the Belfries (or is it Belfrys?) and more than fifty members and friends were on Mendip. The thirty sleepers were per night and not over the period. All the major Mendip Caves were visited together with a large number of the smaller ones. The evenings were spent in singsongs and a good time was had by all. This constitutes a record for the Club. The previous highest sleeping figure was 25. Whitsun is just around the corner, and indications so far are that it is going to be even more successful than Easter. ****************************


BB23/3 List of Members 1949 No. 2 G. Platten Hon. Editor, British Caver, Rotherfield, Fernhill Lane, New Milton, Hants. E.J. Steer c/o 23, Andover Road, Knowle Park, Bristol. 4. G.T. Lucy 28, Bibury Cerscent, Henleaze, Bristol. 7. P.A.E. Stewart 11, Fairhaven Road, Redland, Bristol. 6. P.T. Reed 53, Dongola Road, Bristol. 7. R.G. Belamy 5, Heron Road, Easton, Bristol P. Browne 5, Trinity Parade, Frome, Somt. A.J. Crawford 10, Elm Close, Hendon, London, N.W. 4. A.M. Innes, Hon. Librarian, 246, Filton Ave., Horfield Bristol. 7. Mrs. Thompsett Greenhatch, Isle Abbots, Nr Taunton, Somt. R. Cantle 46, Cherrinton Road, Henleaze, Bristol. 7. R.A. Setterington, Hon. Hut Warden, 21, Priors Wood Road, Taunton, Somt. R.M. Wallis Briarcroft, Marlborough Close, Latchford, W.O., Warrington, Lancs. J.M. Thompsett Greenhatch, Isle Abbots, Nr Taunton, Somt. E.H. Cole 174, Baginton Road, Coventry, Warwickshire. ************************* From The Hon. Sec.’s Postbag From Terry Reed at Trinidad I’ve heard of two caves in this island, both carrying streams. Both have wide passages, up to the width of a room. I. Is at Point Ballen and is about 45 vertical feet deep. It is at sea level and has a fresh water stream inside. II. Is at Arema in the mountains. It is situated on a private coco (Nut or Food? Ed.) and is about 100 vertical feet deep. There is a stream in the cave which is entered through a 20ft. pothole, the real entrance to the cave being in its side. In this cave there are many rifts or swallet holes communicating with the surface. My informant is an old half-caste man so I think he can be regarded as reliable - except as regards distances inside the caves. He went down the Arema cave when he was a kid. I have phoned the Museum at Port of Spain and confirmed that these caves exist and that there are dripstone formations in the one at Point Ballen although they didn’t know if there was stream inside. I have bought a big bottle of Rum for the Club. (Sorry to raise your hopes boys. Put those tongues back in your jaw. Terry has already handed over the Rum and it has been sampled and disposed of by ‘Thursdaynighters’ long since. Ed.) **************************** The B.E.C. is living up to its reputation as watch finders. At G.B. last Saturday another wrist watch was found. This watch had however, already been reported lost by a visitor who was in the Cave the previous weekend. We suggest that persons taking watches underground should either make sure that the strap is secure or put it in a pocket where it will be safe. ***************************** Stoke Lane Photos are out of stock for the time being. A new supply will be along soon and anyone who has sent in a request for a selection and has not received any is asked to be patient, they will be sent out as soon as possible. ***************************** The Caves of Buckfastleigh, South Devon. by J.V. Morris. Since I have been stationed at Plymouth I have almost more opportunities for caving than before I was called up. Practically in the village of Buckfastleigh, which is as far from Plymouth as Priddy is from Bristol, are two caves, Reed’s Cavern and Bakers Pits Cave. Reeds and Bakers are really one and the same system and there are two connecting passages, one of which is too small to get through, even for Don Coase, (I know because I tried it and nearly ruined myself for life), the other is blocked to prevent people from smashing up the formations in Reeds.


BB23/4 Baker’s Pit is a very fine cave, although all the formations of the less robust kind were destroyed long go. The Main Boulder Chamber is of considerable size, and in the right hand wall at different levels there are many passages, large and small which go to make up a really fine maze, even more complicated than the one in Goatchurch. The way into the lower series is down the ‘Great Rift’, but seeing that there are three great rifts, it makes things rather difficult. There is no mistaking the way however, once the right one is reached and descended, as there is an A.A. notice saying something about ‘Impossible Hill impracticable to motorists’, at the bottom. The route from the rift lies along the Traverse, ending in a small chamber, with a dirty little hole in the floor. Then comes the grind, it is a tunnel about the size of the Drain-pipe in Goatchurch; the only difference is that it is on an angle of forty-five degrees, has a right angled bend in the middle, with a two foot vertical step on the bend, and is cut down to three-quarters of the size of the Drain-pipe with ‘Stoke-Laneish’ mud. Hence the name ‘The Grind’. At the end of the Grind there is a very high chamber, with a horrid, hole about 18 feet deep at the end, the, ‘ole is a lot easier to climb than it looks. From there the chamber runs downwards at a fairly steep angle with a stream running down it. Unfortunately owing to the lack of time, that is as far as we got on the last trip, but I hope to get to the end this weekend. **************************** Reed’s Cavern This cave although it is in the same system as Bakers Pits, it is a very different kind of a cave. It is quite a large cave, and for its size it has more formation than any other cave I have seen.. It is literally packed with every kind of formation, ‘pillars, straws, helictites, coral, and dripstone’. Yes, and even cave pearls, in fact I can honestly say, it one of the most beautiful caves I have ever seen. It was found comparatively recently, although the entrance has been known for years. It was found by Mr. A. Reed, who is President of the Devon Speleos. After a good deal of digging they got into Easter Chamber, the main chamber of the Cave. Luckily, no one can smash the formations as there is a steel door almost hidden under a mass of padlocks at the entrance. There are about four different levels to Reeds, all of then complicated and full of formation, and on the whole it is a really interesting cave. Pridhamsleigh Cave Up till now I have not had the chance to go down this cave, but hope to this weekend. By what I have been told it is a wet, muddy cave with plenty of tight bits. It also has a large underground lake in one place 60ft. deep. There is also a pot in the floor of a quarry just outside Buckfast. It is a 45ft. overhanging ladder pitch, into a chamber, with some passages leading off. Not having had it chance to try and kill myself in it yet, I'm afraid I don't know much about it. I can certainly recommend any member of the B.E.C. who has time, to come down to this area for some really good caving. J.V. Morris (Since John wrote the above article much water has gone down the swallets, and we hope that he will send us a further article to bring our Devon information up to date. Ed.). ********************************* The Caving tempo of the Club is increasing considerably. The weekend of 7th-8th May saw four caves visited by four large and independent parties. Strange as it may seem, the reports reaching Jim Weekes who is Hon. Recorder are in inverse ratio to the number of excursions undertaken. The Editor has been asked why so few reports ever reach the BB. The fact is that although members very often come across interesting facts underground, they all seem shy of committing those facts to paper. Please make every effort to send in these reports. Let the rest of the club know what you have found, seen or deduced, a very brief note will suffice for routine trips with amplification as necessary. *********************************


Belfry Bulletin Number 023