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No. 125

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No. 125 June 1958


EDITORIAL It doesn’t seem very long ago that we were celebrating the publication of the hundredth issue of the B.B., and yet here we are a quarter of the way towards our second century. The rather dubious looking heading of this page is supposed to be marking the occasion. Readers may have noticed a gradual deterioration of the quality of the typing of the B.B. of late. This is not due to the new duplicator, which is behaving very well, but is because this typewriter is in need of overhaul. In particular, the tops of capital letters are not coming out properly. We are hoping to have this attended to before the printing of July’s B.B. The publication last month of Caving Report No.3 has, we hope, accomplished two things. The first is to convince one and all that we do intend these to appear at intervals – however irregular – and the second and most important is to get some of the methods of tackle construction used on Mendip down on paper. To our knowledge, in this club alone, at least five types of ladder have been constructed and it is doubtful whether more than a few individuals are familiar with the methods used. We could do with a few more write-ups on this subject for caving reports. “Alfie” _______________________________________________________________________________________

LETTER Dear Mr. Collins, I was very interested, in Belfry Bulletin No 123 (April 1958), to read the article by Ken Dobbs on 'A cave at Newton Abbott.' This cave is known as Conitor Cave, after the quarry in which it is situated. There is a brief mention of it in 'Britain Underground' and it is also listed in 'British Caving'. In so far as there is a main route through the cave, this runs downwards, and is reached by a number of holes that drop down to the right - as mentioned by Dobbs (who must have looked down a difficult one, as there is an easy way down just beyond!) These holes lead to a roughly horizontal corridor, form which a variety of interesting squeezes which look as if they ought to go on. Some do, for a short distance, but narrow fissures or cemented boulders have prevented us from getting very far. There are some very colourful red flows and curtains in these lower Grottos. I gather from Ken Dobbs' letter that he hasn't come across any cavers in Devon. Perhaps he would like to get in touch with us some time? Yours Sincerely John Hooper (Recorder & Editor, D.S.S.) Editor’s Note: We publish the above for the benefit of any members who find themselves in Devon. You look as if you’ve got some caving organized, Ken!

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No. 125

MAY COMMITTEE MEETING The May meeting of the committee dealt mainly with routine matters; the provisioning of the more tackle, the renovation of the club lantern and slides, the arrangements for creosoting the Belfry during the summer. The date of the next, and subsequent Annual General Meeting and Dinner was fixed, as announced in last month’s B.B., as the first Saturday in October. Discussion on a suitable memorial to Don Coase continued. The following new members were elected: - G. Todd; D. Soutar; P.C. Wilson (Junior) and A.C. Coase. _______________________________________________________________________________________

LOG FOR MAY 1958 4th May 4th May 10th May

17th May

17th May 18th May 24th May

24th May 25th May

Vole Hole. Digging of the 3rd shaft continues. Jill and Alfie have now reached half way down again. Eastwater. Trip to Primrose Path and Rift Chambers, Leader, “Prew” Cuthbert’s. Maypole Series Survey. Also surveyed High Chamber and examined approach to Hanging Chamber. Leader “Kangy.” (A more detailed account by Kangy follows later in this issue.) Hunter’s Hole. Rawlbolt fitted for main pitch. The rawlbolt for the lifeline belay could not be fitted owing to the breakage of hammer! The trip went on and continued digging at the bottom. Leader, Ian Dear. Cuckoo Cleeves. Trip to end. Leader, Ian Dear Cuthbert’s. A four hour digging trip in the “Tin Mine” in the Rabbit Warren Extension. A stream can be heard. Leader, “Prew.” Cuthbert’s. A photographic trip. On this trip, a new passage on the left of Lower Traverse Chamber was entered. A series of oxbows ascending rapidly and eventually joining, the Old Route Stream approx. forty feet above the Water Chute. Another extension leads to the top of Lower Traverse Chamber. Leader, Chis Falshaw. A sketch map is appended below: -

Swildons. Trip to Sump I. Leader, George Honey Cuthbert’s. The first Girdle Traverse of Cuthbert’s by the following route. Entrance – Pulpit Pitch – Water Pitch – Dining Room – Everest – Pillar Chamber – Wire Rift – Ledge Pitches – Entrance. Three parties took part, the leaders being, Chris, Kangy and Norman.

The two trips following are out of chronological order, we apologise for this. 3rd May

4th May

Cuthbert's. Brian Ellis and Chris Falshaw went to Plantation Junction were instruments were set up. Chris came out and Bryan stayed taking photographs. Chemicals were put in Plantation Sink and Chris went down cave to Join Ellis. Continued to sump. Cuthbert's. Retrieved apparatus from Plantation Junction. Conclusion. Further researches in Cuthbert’s Have now inconclusively shown That water swallowed in Plantation It not passed by the Junction alone.

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Chris has promised a more scientific account later. Meanwhile, the editor, who has restrained his poetic outbursts in the B.B. for some months now, can contain himself no longer and inflicts the following on you:Experimentation Chris F. made preparation For an investigation To find the destination Of water from Plantation. This science application Had chemical foundation. To show, by combination, The water’s percolation. They hoped to find relation Of stream configuration And rate of transportation By Ionic Migration. Chris had co-operation From Bryan, who did station At lowest elevation, Himself for the duration. They waited with elation And much anticipation

Then checked their installation With great exhilaration. But then, with lamentation, There came the realization. There was no correlation. In fact, complete negation! This caused great cogitation And lengthy meditation Until their cerebration Reached absolute stagnation. So if, when on vacation, You try participation With gen instrumentation To find this deviation, Don't let your new vocation Cause undue perturbation. Just stop, and yell “Damnation!” And try intoxication!

“Alfie.” _______________________________________________________________________________________

CUTHBERT’S HANGING CHAMBER Cavers familiar with the Maypole Series have been aware of the presence of what seemed to be a hole high up in the left hand wall (facing upstream) of Bridge Chamber - The entrance chamber to the Maypole Series, containing the fixed ladder and short chain pitches. Until recently, the nearest anyone had been to it was at the time of the first maypole attempt on what is now the permanently laddered pitch. On that occasion, 16th Feb., 1957, R.S. King climbed to a small ledge formed by the stal flow on the wall (indicated by the pin figure in the sketch on the next page). The stal above appeared to be too steep to climb, and the ledge too small to support a maypole and crew. This was confirmed by ‘Mo’ Marriott, who climbed to the same spot almost a year later. During the surveying of the maypole series early this year, it was noticed that it might be possible to examine the hole from the chamber at the bottom of long Chain Pitch. With this in mind, a party took strong lights and a few weeks later climbed into the narrow inclined rift from this chamber and found that it did indeed overlook Bridge Chamber. By strange and hazardous contortions, it was found possible to illuminate the hole and with satisfaction, a fine white cascade was glimpsed. More immediate surroundings contained a narrow, steep sloping, muddy ledge and a small stal ledge. Both could be utilised during the engineering which must precede access to the hole. At Whitsun, a party carried exploration a stage further and dropped a ladder onto the muddy ledge from the viewpoint. It was found possible to step from this ledge to the stal ledge. From this airy stance, it could be seen that the hole has considerable depth and height and is, in fact, a chamber containing some important formations. Independent opinions of each of the four in the party give the cascade an estimated height of fifty feet. The problem is now clear, and materials and a method are available to solve it. “Kangy”

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……by Tony Johnson. This long screed may be helpful to anyone looking for a trip abroad which is not infected with G.B. plates and yet is not too far off the beaten track. When planning our 1957 summer holidays, this was our main thought. We started out from Bristol at 6.00 on a Friday evening and by 7.30 next morning were safely on the quay at Le Havre. From our experience, we can safely recommenced the night B.R. service from Southampton. The “Normani” is one of the post war vessels and is very smooth. Crossing this way is dearer than the short routes (especially as there is longer bar time) but when you add up the fuel bill down to Dover and through Northern France, I doubt if there is anything in it starting from the West Country. Added to this is the attraction of starting off in France after a good sleep (all berths arc comfortable and cheap). Our first days run was to be the longest of the whole tour. Straight south across the Seine Ferry, on through Le Mans, the Mulsanne straight, Tours and Poitiers towards Bordeaux, and the Spanish frontier. It was a hot sticky day, so we stopped short of Bordeaux on the higher ground. The Boule D'Or at Barbezieux was our first port of call, 6 pm and 410 miles from the channel! Dinner was typical. It lasted most of the evening. One thing, was different though, the father and mother of all thunderstorms arrived and as we ate and drank, the lights went dim and bright by turns, finally packing up to be replaced by huge candles. This storm lasted into the night with lightning of every conceivable colour. We could look at the maps by the light.

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Breakfast in the morning, was what was to become typical, croissants and a huge bowl of coffee consumed in the bar. Then out into the sun in search of a metre of bread, a bottle of wine (3 or 4/-) and a kilo of peaches (6d or 9d) as a basis for lunch. Back again to settle up and depart. The Boule D' Or was typical of the hotels we found in the small towns of the main tourist routes with good food and drink - clean and cheap. A few comments on French hotel technique may not come amiss here to those who, like ourselves, have not had any previous experience. Firstly, and most important, get a Michelin Guide. It is far and away the best and most comprehensive guide I have yet found. Hotel proprietors live in fear and trembling of it and if they see you carrying one they will not overcharge. Next, never be afraid to say the room you are shown is too dear if you think it is. They will usually show you something cheaper! Unless you understand what you are ordering (which we didn't) stick to the fixed meal at night; odd special dishes cost a lot more and the normal food is almost certainly very good. Drink local wine unless you suspect it or have a very strong desire for something special. It is usually good and very cheap. Don't bother about garaging vehicles. They seem to be all right left lying about the place, especially if British. Finally, don't hesitate to add up and check the bill. It's probably O.K. though; and don't bother about tips except special ones as you have probably paid for them already under the heading "s.t.c." To resume then, Sunday morning fine and fresh after the storm saw us driving the Anglia down the miles of tree lines straight towards Bordeaux. Our first diversion came soon. A large blue coach sat on its backside in the middle of the road. The two rear wheels had had an argument and parted company, leaving the rest of the coach to slide along without them. Nobody worried - most of the passengers were picking flowers! On past the huge Pont de Pierre into Bordeaux in the middle of Sunday morning. What a scrum! Rather like a cross between Oxford Street and Petticoat Lane with all the shops going full blast! Turn left and out again to the south and the hills, but first more petrol - trois mille francs d'essence (super of course) just over 6 gallons for almost £3 - This was before cheap tourist petrol. From now on, we should need to keep that tank full, we thought, as petrol stations were likely to get further apart. 140 miles later, we arrived in Pan and lunch was due. From here we saw our first view of the Pyrenees, but this was rather disappointing and rather like the Lake District from the Pennines. A few miles out of Pan and the off the road and down to a stream for lunch. You notice off the road. Don't stop on the road. If you do, mobile gendarmes appear from everywhere if you don't pull onto the verge. Out, primus stove and water keg; on soup, coffee etc. wine in the stream to cool and off we go. After lunch, we first got out the sectional Michelin maps of the Pyrenees. Up to now we had navigated on the Michelin road book, but now we were leaving the Houtes Nationals for the yellow, white and dotted roads. Our route now lay upwards towards the frontiers. Firstly through pine woods, past numerous hydro electric barrages, then up through the spruce trees until we came out into a long snaking valley above the trees. Huge boulders and cliffs all round us disappeared into low cloud. Then there was the frontier barrier, 6,400 feet up. Beyond, we could see the clouds broken up with sunny patches on the rough dirt Spanish road. The time was 3.30 and we were on the frontier 45 hours and 720 miles from Bristol. Not fantastic perhaps, but not too bad considering we had done a lot of sightseeing and photography on the way. However, we weren’t intending to cross over just yet, so back we went down the road beneath the clouds. This was the contrast we were to find a number of times in the next ten days - cloud and paved roads in France (albeit damned "bombee" in places) and sunshine and dirt roads in Spain. It seems that the clouds pile up against the French side of the Pyrenees. This accounts for the almost incredible green of the French landscape compared with the scorched appearance of the Spanish side. It was now 6 o'clock and time to look for an hotel. Here we made a mistake which we were careful not to repeat. We picked out a place which turned out to be a shocker. Instead of departing for somewhere more convivial, we persisted. It was like some vast barracks. I do believe we were the only people to stay that summer, certainly that night. So be warned if a place has an air of deserted grandeur about it, it is probably deserted for a very good reason, so steer clear! French and Belgian tourists aren't fools and they are the main source of income in the Pyrenees. (To be continued.)

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H.E. BALCH It is with regret that we must record the passing of Mr. Balch, on, we understand, Whit Monday. Mr. Balch was an Honorary Life Member of the B.E.C., and so perhaps we may be permitted to add our own club's tribute to his long lifetime of work on Mendip caves. For the last three years of his life, he was reluctantly confined to bed, but even then he spent them being through all his caving memoranda and tidying up all the loose ends. We received a letter from him asking several questions about the Redcliffe Cave system in Bristol only a few months ago. Humour has it that he did a 'top of Swildons' at the age of eighty two! This was typical of the keenness he showed. His work at Badger Hole, his books, and his Curatorship of the Wells Museum are well known to all cavers, and he was never too busy to chat to cavers, giving novices and experienced cavers the same courteous attention. Those who never saw him have missed what every Mendip caver considered to be part of his education - those who knew him will we are sure, join with us in mourning the passing of a great and well-loved caver.

_______________________________________________________________________________________ The Belfry Bulletin. Editor: S.J. Collins, 1 Kensington Place, Clifton, Bristol 8 Secretary: R.J. Bagshaw, 56 Ponsford Road, Knowle, Bristol 4

Belfry Bulletin Number 125  

Editor’s Note: We publish the above for the benefit of any members who find themselves in Devon. You look as if you’ve got some caving organ...

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