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Vol. 6 No.59

July 1952 THE BELFRY BULLETIN JOURNAL OF THE BRISTOL EXPLORATION CLUB

CLANG! My note in the personal column of the last BB has brought a storm of protest from the fathers of sons born prior to Johnny and Betty’s! I bow my head in shame and admit not one mistake, but more than one. Sorry John and Betty, there are others, before you. If possible, I will try to give you a list, but there are at least two others with an earlier claim. Thanks are due to those members who have already sent in articles for publication, but there can NEVER be too many, so let the trickle become a flood! If you don’t like the BB write and tell me what it is that you dislike, and 1 will do my best to alter it. Likewise, tell me if you approve, as only by the reader’s reaction can I gauge if I am doing my job successfully. ****************************************************** Caving Report Hon. Sec., Assist. Hon. Sec., and three others did an ‘Upper Swildons’ on Sunday 6th. July. Photographs were taken and two misguided persons came out the Wet Way. There were no casualties. T.H.S. ******************************************************* Climbing Report. None ******************************************************* Recently the writer of the following article did his first trip underground and as a result has burst into print. EXPLORATION OF THE NETHER REGIONS by THEVOR C. RHODES. I first contemplated a speleological foray after a singularly unsuccessful expedition to the Pensford branch of the National Coal Board, of which the sole beneficial results appeared to be a generous coating of coal-dust and a full appreciation of the difficulties that a British mine-worker has to endure. Fully convinced that such subterranean conditions could not exist elsewhere, a caving trip appeared to provide an answer to this conviction A trip was arranged, and, upon nearing Swildons Hole, where the initiation was to be made, I was surprised that the topography gave so little evidence of the cave systems beneath. Apart from an occasional swallet hole, which was usually obscured by vegetation, there was no indication of other than solid ground beneath us. We arrived at the barn that is used as a changing room, and although it was unpretentious, it was admirable for its purpose, as was evident upon our return, when wet clothes were cheerfully squeezed over the floor by all and sundry. The five of us changed into our assorted gear, which ranged from battledress to old flannels and pullovers which the dustmen had apparently rejected. We filled our carbide lamps which are extremely efficient and then set off for a cross-country trek to the cave opening.


BB59/2 The entrance was a little surprising, and one wonders after seeing the system itself how the latter could have been formed by water coming through such a small mouth. The initial stage was a little disconcerting, extreme physical (and mental) effort being required to worm ones way between boulders which persist in barking ones shins, and trying extricate oneself from holes which appeared to contract as further progress, was essayed. The number of positions which the average caver has at his disposal is really amazing, (48, 49 or 50?? Ed.) for my confederates travelled feet first, head first, and in several most unorthodox attitudes, which appeared, however, to get through gaps like glorified mouseholes. As we went deeper, the tunnel grew larger and eventually opened out into a fairly large chamber. A little previously, two of my hydrophilous (I think that perhaps scrofulous would be more appropriate. Ed.) companions disappeared down a hole to rejoin us later in the grotto. It was interesting to see ones school theories converted into material facts and thus demonstrating the diversified routes which exist in a limestone series, the faulting being especially apparent. Below us, considerable drops occasionally invited the unwary and, proceeding with extreme caution, we eventually emerged into a chamber that was larger than any visited before. Here the party halted to recuperate from its exertions, and to take photographs from positions which appeared to impart to the more experienced of us, a peculiar glee at having accomplished the well nigh impossible!! This trend of achieving the impossible became more evident later. The man in front proceeded with utmost vigour, frequently punctuating his journey with a most assorted collection of expletives and waving his legs in a really amazing fashion, until upon reaching the end of a particular climb, would sit upon the nearest vantage point and gaze on me with a triumphant air, giving; the impression that progress is easy when one knows how. After leaving the chamber a tunnel somewhat like that at the entrance was encountered. Progress was at first hampered by the writer’s refusal to admit the inevitability of getting wet. All was well until one of the aforementioned mouseholes barred our passage. Here further progress became impossible and a strategic withdrawal was effected, and I announced that I could not proceed. Thereupon the information was volunteered that a way through underneath existed. My informant added with considerable satisfaction, that about a foot of water flowed through as well. I arrived at the other side spluttering and considering the advisability of a swimming costume. The passage was very interesting, showing various forms of deposit and ended in the Forty-foot Pot, which appeared to me to be a considerable climb. After a brief pause we commenced the return journey, with little reluctance on my part, for lunch was assuming enormous proportions in my mind. The hole in which I had previously stuck presented no difficulty; indeed, I did not recognise it until I had passed through it. If I had I should probably not have attempted it. Three of our number decided to return the dry way as they had photographic equipment, by myself and one other elected to pursue the wet route. This stretch was, to me, the most thrilling, consisting of a subterranean watercourse. Here in one place there was a 20 foot waterfall between the rock approximately two feet apart. For perhaps the first time, my carbide lamp had to succeed to the electric torch, which by itself proved of little use in the sheets of water. My colleague disappeared into the torrent, and I was left, with rather mixed feelings, contemplating the ascent in a relative humidity of 99 per cent. It was one of those rare occasions when a caver is literally by himself, and taking my courage in my hands, I crossed theRubicon and started the climb. By the time I was half way up, practically all the breath had been driven out of me, and I eventually reached the top with a triumphant gasp. My companion gazed at me quizzically as if I had been exerting myself. The top was only a very short way away and we reached the surface without incident, and after a quarter of an hour's wait for our colleagues, we returned to the barn. After changing into civilised clothes an indefinable sense of contentment pervaded one’s being, and I wondered if it could be attributed to having accomplished what few have done, and in an atmosphere unclouded by commercialism. My doubts about caving had now been completely dispelled and several ideas had succeeded them.


BB59/3 Of these, one fundamental was clearly isolated from the others. This was the universal bond between lovers of reliving; their appreciation of their hobby, and their interdependence. Truly may the maxim ‘One for All and All for One’ be applied to caving. Never did I more fully appreciate this that when my companion ascended the waterfall, and I was left so briefly to my meditations. In few other pursuits is such a dependence existent, and I trust that this bond may not be corrupted. This, however, is unlikely, for with all my varied pursuits, I have seldom met such thoroughly likeable and dependable fellows as my companions. Perhaps the conveniences of the Barn were not all to be desired, but this merely adds to the thrill; it is irrelevant if tea is found in the sugar tin, or if shrimps wriggle in one’s tea. The writer concludes by saying that he has seldom enjoyed a day more than this ‘Expedition’ to the subterranean regions, and eagerly looks forward to the next trip. T.C. Rhodes. ********************************************** Pongo has burst into verse?????? with the following:I've got a Grotter, Always muddy and wet. Look around and you will find Every stal. is calcite lined. The lamp will shine, Although the batteries an old one. I've always said to myself, I’ve said, “Cheer up, Pongo, You’ll soon be dead, A short cave and a cold one. With apologies to Lionel Monkton (I think). ********************************************** PERSONAL The marriage of Roger Cantle, and Miss Judy Puplett took place on 28th. June. A little bird tells me that the date was altered when the lads started making plans to assist with the honeymoon. Johnny Morris is being very secretive about his matrimonial plans. The Old Detective Agency will have to snap into gear!! **************************************** Are Squirrels Bat-eaters? In reply to the constant need for material for the ‘B.B.’, perhaps this incident may be of interest to those members, who, like myself, take notice of bats. The other day I was walking in a small wood at Barrow Gurney when I saw a large bat fly away from a maple tree about 12 feet above me, and land on the trunk of a nearby ash. Sitting on a branch just above it was a grey squirrel which immediately went into action, leapt on the bat, killed it, and made off with it. All this happened too quickly for me to observe which type of bat it was; but, the question is: - Do squirrels make a habit of preying on bats? J.W. Ifold. ***************************************** STOP PRESS The marriage of John Menace Morris and Miss Jill Oldland took place at St. Peter’s Church, Henleaze, on Wednesday, July 9th. ***************************************** I have been told that there seems to be a tendency for young married and engaged couples to drift away from the club. This is a great pity, as in very many cases the original meeting of these couples was a direct result of their Club activities. Is it that interest suddenly evaporates, or is it that more important things crowd out that interest? Probably the latter. Therefore, you stalwarts of the present and the future, don’t forget that the club needs you even if your need for the club has lessened. Looking back through the years it is surprising how many couples have drifted away. What is the answer? Is it a ‘Husband and wife’ subscriptions at reduced rates? Possibly; I feel that such a scheme would offer some inducement to married couples to remain within the fabric of the club. T.H.S.


BB59/4 JUST PUBLISHED. ‘UNDERGROUND ADVENTURE’ by Arthur Gemmell and J.O. Myers. ‘The stirring story of the discovery of underground Yorkshire’. Price 15/- (15/9 post free) from Dalesman Publishing Co., Clapham, Via Lancaster. ***************************************** This is not the original page scheduled, but owing to a set of circumstances that have risen since it was started, I feel that an alteration is essential. I have received a letter which appeared to have been sent with the approval of the Committee threatening me with dire consequences if any error creeps into the BB. One is amazed that a letter sent by a person not on the Committee can threaten another member with anything; consequently I am, next month, publishing the letter in full, together with my answer for it. If this letter was not sent with Committee approval I look to them to take immediate steps to ensure that there is no repetition; and it is because that I am sure that they know nothing about it that I am taking the trouble and the member’s time in printing that which would naturally be thrown contemptuously into the waste-paper basket. As Editor I welcome criticism at all times either destructive of otherwise, as it is only with such, that I can build up the BB, but when letters over stepping the grounds of common decency and common sense then the sooner the Club knows about them and their authors the better. Will the person (who is presumably still a member) take this as an intimation that I have received this letter, as I do not intend wasting the Club’s money on a stamp to acknowledge it in any other manner. T.H. Stanbury, Editor B.B. ******************************************** Overheard in G.B. “Mad things, these helictites, aren’t they?” “Yes, so would you be, if you had been here as long as they have!” ********************************************

R.J. Bagshaw, Hon. Sec. 58, Pensford Road, Bristol. 4. K. Dobbs, Hon. Assist. Sec. Broadfield Road, Bristol. 4. J.W. Ifold, Librarian, Leigh House, Nempnett, Chew Stoke, Nr. Bristol. M. Hannam, Caving Sec. 14, Vyvan terrace, Bristol. 8. A. Setterington, 21, Priorwood Road, Taunton, Somt. M. Jones, 12, Melton Crescent, Bristol. 7. R. Cantle, Climbing Sec. 48, Cherrington Road, Bristol. 8. T.H. Stanbury, Hon, Editor, 74, Woodleigh Gardens, Whitchurch, Brisol. 4.

Belfry Bulletin Number 059  

A trip was arranged, and, upon nearing Swildons Hole, where the initiation was to be made, I was surprised that the topography gave so littl...

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