No 184 June 1963
Monthly Journal Of The Bristol Exploration Club
B Vol. XVII No. 6
This month we again have a larger B.B. with a caving article (by a well known climber) a climbing article (by the Caving Secretary) and an article on a rescue operation (practice) in Cuthbertâ€™s. As usual, we have Stalagmite's comments on the Mendip scene in addition to the above. This goes to show that we have got some people in club who can both do things and write about them afterwards. We even have a small surplus of material this month ready for the July B.B. There are still some areas in which work goes on conducted apparently by illiterate members. If you have done anything worth recording in the B.B. why not let us know? Alfie _______________________________________________________________________________________
Annual Dinner The question of entertainments for this year's Annual Dinner is beginning to puzzle the Committee once again. Some members, so we hear, would like a photographic competition to be held again. Others, perhaps, would like something new or even nothing at all. PLEASE let any committee member know if you have any ideas on the subject. The B.E.C. Annual Dinner usually goes down well, but much depends on what YOU would like to do after the actual grub part is over. This is YOUR chance to help decide! There will be a Caving Meet to the Forest of Dean area on the Weekend of July 13/l4 with the Gloucester Speleological Society as hosts. An organised skittles match and beer up will occur on the Saturday night at a hostelry to be chosen by our hosts. Would all those interested please contact the Caving Secretary C.A. Marriott, 718, Muller Road, Eastville, Bristol. _______________________________________________________________________________________
British Speleological Association 1963 Conference & Exhibition. Bob Bagshaw hopes to attend this at Sheffield University from Saturday 10th August to Monday 12th August. He is willing to take passengers by arrangement. Conference includes slide shows, visits to caves, films etc. Apply to Bob for details. _______________________________________________________________________________________
Cave Research Group 1963 Southern Meeting. This will be held at 5.0 pm at the Church House, Lion St, Brecon on Saturday 29th June 1963. Contact Bob Bagshaw for further details.
Aggy Aggy Meet by "Kangy" King. Ogof Agen Allwedd is that very large cave in South Wales which occupies so much of the Mynydd Llangattwg, a few miles from Abergavenny. Vital statistic wise, its underground passages undermine an area equivalent to the quadrilateral formed by Priddy - Priddy Nine Barrows - Stock hill and the Hunters. The present length of passage is reputed to be ten miles or so, mostly horizontal, which is the way exploratory parties tend to finish. The recent increase in these statistics has only been obtained by organising trips on expedition lines and spending many days underground. The cave entrance series has been explored since 1946 but it was not until 1957 that the huge Main Passage was discovered, since when the known mileage has increased steadily. The B.E.C., unfortunately, has not been active in Aggy Aggy and has only made the occasional tourist trip over the last five years. The recent meet in Llangattock quarries proved to be the most successful of all, largely because this time, we had the considerable assistance of The Chelsea Speleological society in a guiding capacity. The majority of the party arrived at the most beautiful and convenient scarp edge of the Llangattock nature reserve during Friday night. Their anticipated early Saturday start was delayed by further arrivals during the morning. With domestic arrangements in hand, two groups were assembled. The first, of Bennett, Mo, the Franklins and Kangy entered first on what was intended to be the longer trip. The second group was Joan Bennett, Tony Wring, Ray Ball and his mate. Later - much later - Mighty Man Sandall turned up with Norman Petty, two prospective members, Pete Scott and the decorative Noreen. Sandall, as in past years, intended to find his way to the Turkey Pool, though how he proposed to reach it via the mile and a quarter Southern Stream Passage only he can tell. Incidentally, the Shepton Mallet Journal No 5 (now on sale!) describes the diving of the downstream sump at the end of this passage. For the convenience of the reader, a diagram of the main, layout of the cave is given below. For the more interested, there is, in the club library, a copy of publication No 10 of the C.R.G. entitled Ogof Agen Allwedd.
Page 3 The first group to enter (that containing our Hon. Caving Sec.) was probably the most fortunate, in that at Easter a connection was made between the Coal Cellar Passage and Midsummer. This enabled a grand tour to be made. The route was through the entrance passages and the Main Stream to the Coal Cellar, into Summertime Series and then out via Turkey Series and the Main Stream. This took nine jog trotting hours. Highlights seen must be seen to be believed! It is possible to feel several ways about Aggy. There is the feeling of tedium - the endless jogging through identical passages, the half mile sideways walk with little room to enjoy the occasional blissful rotation of the neck, the stooping passages too low to walk and too tall to crawl and endless. There is the feeling of awe as, after the numbness of endless passage, comes the startling realisation of immense space. Especially in St. Pauls Passage there is this feeling as, stumbling along intent on boulder hopping, yet eyes lifted and strained against the darkness of a vast hall, the architectural dome of St. Pauls is reached. This is a marvellous place and tedium is forgotten. Later, when a trip is over and the cuts and bruises have faded with the memory of the pain of the sharp stones in the crawls, there is another feeling or perhaps a satisfaction and that I suppose is why Agen Allwedd will be well worth visiting again. Our thanks are due the C.S.S. for a fine trip. _______________________________________________________________________________________
WEEKEND ON THE DEWERSTONE by "Mo"
The Dewerstone rocks are situated in the thickly wooded valley of the river Plym on the South West edge of Dartmoor (N.G.R. 538638). They are near the village of Shaugh Prior (pub) and can easily be reached either from Tavistock (ten miles) or Plymouth (eight miles). The Dewerstone is a granite outcrop composed of a group of ribs, buttresses and one or two small pinnacles, offering climbs of up to two hundred feet in length. There are also one or two small isolated towers of granite in the same valley, and a few small outcrops at the top of some of the tors. The party that finally congregated at the pleasant camp site near Shaugh Bridge was very much a family affair, with Dorothy Waddon and family, Dave Quicke and family, “Kangy" King and family, Tony Dunn and family (staying near Tavistock) plus Roy and Joan Bennett and myself. The climbing party consisted of Bennett, King and Marriott with Dave Quicke joining us on several occasions. The Saturday afternoon saw B. K. and M. setting off with great intentions who, after a quick look at the main face of Devil's Rock (and deciding to leave it well alone!) launched themselves at Pinnacle Buttress (v.diff.) However, after the previous weeks of practice on the somewhat delicate subtleties of the Avon limestone, the rough, strenuous and comparatively holdless granite came as rather a rude shock. After Pinnacle Buttress the climbing was continued with the short severe traverse of "Suspension Wall" high up on the main face, finishing on Devil's Rock. From the top, of Devil's Rock, the upper buttresses were visible - a few hundred yards up the valley the left one showing a well defined steep arête. After examining this arête from a distance, we decided to cross the wooded gully between the outcrop and have a closer look at this climb. The climb proved to be steep and exposed, though not difficult, probably one of the best long routes in the area which is not more than severe. This completed the climbing for the day and we returned to the campsite. The next morning, B. K. and M. returned to Needle Arête with the purpose of obtaining a cine film record of the climb. Roy and I roped up for the climb while Kangy perched himself precariously ready to film the epic ascent. About two and a half hours later, and having ascended and descended the climb at least three times, the epic was complete. In the finished film the climb takes about three minutes. Nevertheless, the result was surprisingly successful in view of the difficulty of access to the climb and the high wind that was blowing at the time. At this point, Roy went off to do a climb lower down the valley with Joan, while Kangy and I moved up to the Right Upper Buttress where a rather unsuccessful two hours followed. Two abortive attempts were made at climbs, one of which ended at the foot of a fierce open corner, and the other when a vital piton was found to be missing ("Armada"). We returned to the foot of Devil's Rock, where we were joined by Roy Bennett and Dave Quicke. The two pairs then ascended Colonel's Arête and Reverse Cleft both v.diff. - and returned to camp.
Page 4 On the final day, the previously brilliant weather showed signs of breaking up, but undaunted, B. K. and. M. returned to Devil's Rock and proceeded to attack "Route B" (v'.diff). The upper pitches of this climb were very entertaining, the final rib being straightforward though astonishingly exposed. The last member of the party completed this part of the climb in steady rain. In order to keep reasonably dry we decided to drop down to a small outcrop buried in the woods and tackle some short severe problems in the shelter of the trees. There followed two hilarious hours. The first antic was performed by myself (on a top rope) on a short, very strenuous overhanging problem with the curious name of 'Twittering Crack'. After thrutching up to within a few feet of the top, I decided that the final move was too much for me and proceeded to reverse the climb. On reaching a small chock stone jammed in the crack - the only recognisable hold on the whole climb - in the words of the prophet "it came away in my hands" and yours truly launched out into space clutching the chock stone. However, all was well and I was lowered gracefully to the ground by Mr. Bennett. In view of the incident, future visitors to the Dewerstone will please make the following alteration to the guide book. On page 17 under "Twittering Crack", delete the words 'hard very severe’ and insert 'impossible'. The next trick was performed by Mr. Bennett on a neighbouring climb called “Saints Niche". After climbing into an uncomfortable niche in a slightly overhanging corner, the problem was to get out of the niche again, onto the wall of the corner in order to negotiate the overhang on to the slab above. Mr. Bennett got into the niche, all right but after a considerable length of time (while Mr. King and I chatted and ate lunch) the origin of the name of the climb became apparent. Obviously someone, seeing a motionless climber contemplating the crux of this climb had mistaken him for a religious effigy placed there by the natives! The third and final trick occurred on a climb called “Cesar's Nose", the final pitch of which consists of a crack rising upwards diagonally to the right. This had to be treated as a sort of an upside down, lay-back with both hands and feet in the crack. To quote the guide book 'The difficulty is to get the feet into the crack without being forced off balance by the bulge above it'. After one member of the party had done this move twice the other two still refused to believe that it was possible and they both insisted on doing a desperate traverse below the crack on imaginary holds. After this, Dave Quicke joined us again and a weekend of very pleasant climbing was completed with the two pairs ascending “Reverse Cleft" and "Pinnacle Chimney". The Dewerstone is deceptive in that at first sight the climbing does not appear very extensive. However after a few hours it becomes apparent that there are a lot of very interesting climbs in the area and since it is the granite outcrop nearest to Bristol; it is certainly well worth a weekend's visit. (References are made from the ‘Climbing guide to Dartmoor & S.W. Devon’ published by the Royal Navy Ski & Mountaineering Club.) _______________________________________________________________________________________
On the Hill (or T.W.T.M.T.W.) June, being the sixth month, start of summer and the seven months bad weather, "makes it ideal for caving. At least for the M.R.O. and C.D.G. Talking of the C.D.G., they held their A.G.M. and dinner recently where a new constitution was agreed (and by some disagreed) upon. The Group has been reorganised on a regional basis with a co-ordinating National Committee and plans are in hand to catch up with all the work that should have been, done in the last ten or so years. Apparently, the name was not changed, as some gossips, would have it, to the 'Shepton Mallet Cave Diving Club’ but, as may be expected, the Family managed to work its way into further power. On a more serious note, the excellent work put in by the C.D.G. recently at Stoke (see Mike T’s write up in the April B.B.) is well worth a mention and can be classed as really great work. With the advent of the new equipment that's rumoured - a new super light compact set - I see practically no obstacle to bar their way in the future, not even Cuthbert’s Sump. Three members of M.N.R.C., it is reported by some accident went caving in Swildons and there is even a rumour abroad that they intend to reopen Cuckoo Cleeves. Winter is truly over, the dormant awake! Whilst
Page 5 on the subject of reopening, a friend of mine told me he’d heard from a friend who'd heard etc that Cow Hole is virtually open again, needing only a slight bang to finish the job. During the Merry Month of May, a radio programme called 'Down your way’ visited Cheddar and its caves. While interviewing a Mr Robertson, one of the cave managers, a few of his theories were broadcast. In fact, what he had to say on the subject of natural occurrings was most enlightening, even if the truth was distorted some. His own pet, obviously of the Cheddar Main Drain dream, is the idea of blasting down to some lakes below the system. Whilst talking of Cheddar Caves, the national press reports that the marchioness has notions of painting murals - modern type - on some of the cave walls. There ought ter be a law! Did you know that one of the gift shops on the Golden Mile actually SELLS lead slag from Priddy to tourists? On this score, the Belfry is sited on a goldmine! At the recent A.G.M. of the East Devon Caving Group, a number of strange resolutions were passed. One stated that the group did not believe in the locking of caves as a general rule. Money was then spent sending copies of this resolution to other clubs with a request that it be stuck on notice boards. What a pity that the money was not made instead into a donation to the Rescue Organisation or the Cave Registry. I am told actually that the U.B.S.S. did get as far as leaving the letter laying on top of a glass cabinet in their rooms for a while where it was possible for members to come across it accidentally. The B.E.C., adopting a more positive approach, tore their copy up. In the latest Wessex Magazine, a lengthy article by Dennis Warburton on cave surveying and grading will be found to give an excellent expose of the shortcomings of the present C.R.G. system. In addition to this article (18 pages of script) Dennis has also written a two page report on the Wessex Easter Yorkshire meet. At this rate, he'll not only be accused of Empire Building, but also of running a subversive paper! I'm told that the Shepton Co. nowadays is becoming a family affair and that only relatives need apply for membership. I think that the ultimate here must surely be a takeover bid for Priddy. For weeks, Simmonds, Maine etc read Thompson, Ellis, Davies etc. Still on the subject of the Family, the Shepton, so it seems, enjoyed the Guinness when in Ireland but state that it was not this but the weather that curtailed their caving activities. Members preferred swimming in the sea to swimming in caves. However, the club's septennial pilgrimage was made to the site of the ambush at Kilmichael just outside the town of Macroom. The South West Essex Technical College Caving Club, (or SWETCC - pronounced "Sweat Seas") leave in July on their expedition to Norway where they hope to explore and survey some new caves. Very nice too at about £60 for eight weeks holiday! Two very welcome 'oldies' - Derek (Prof) Ford and Joe Candy appeared on Mendip recently, returned from Canada. What price a 72 hour Cuthbert’s followed by a weekend of crow scarers? Only two more gems before, news of the B.E.C. The B.D.C.C. are going this year yet again to the Pyrenees. This is getting to be as regular as some people's trips to work. The other is the formation of yet another caving club, the Evening Post C.C. Surely these people could have joined one of the existing clubs on Mendip, there’s enough to choose from! Club News. Greetings to Sybil who is, I am informed, cooking in the back of beyond, Australia and commiserations to Mike Wheadon who's GETTING MARRIED. No wonder Mendip is getting deserted. Thinking of deserted brings me to the Army Game, our boy Nigel Hallett, wise enough to kick himself out, is heading for Canada. There's hope for Garth yet! It costs a mere £20 to get out in-the first three months. As you heard, our illustrious editor chopped the script a trifle in April. I suppose it prevents him having to give me a scattering of libel reports. Thinking of our editor, I notice that an article on cave naming was used to make space (surely enough appeals for copy have been made now) and whilst slightly at variance over personal naming (can you imagine, say Eastwater with a Cholmondeley-Featherstonehaugh link?) Thought for the month. Life gets complicated. It seems that the M.N.R.C. are now to be known as the "Speleological Group of the Mendip Nature Research Committee of the Wells Natural History & Archaeological Society. Do you think it will be possible to write a song for a future song competition about the S.G.O.T.M.N.R.C.O.T.W.N.H.A.A.S.?
A PRACTISE RESCUE IN ST. CUTHBERT’S by K.Franklin. One of the major problems involved in a rescue in St. Cuthbert’s is the negotiation, by a person incapable of helping himself up the Entrance Rift. It had been stated by various people that it was possible to pull someone up the rift, so a practice rescue was organised on Sunday 9th June to confirm this. Several systems were to be tried but this was found to be unnecessary as the first method proved completely satisfactory. The equipment used was the ladder, a rope, a sling and three karabiners. The sling (a rope with a five inch loop on either end) was placed around the chest, under the armpits of the 'injured person' and clipped onto either side of the ladder with two 'krabs'. The third clipped the two loops of the sling together and acted as a pulley for the rope. This was belayed to the bar across the (bop of the rift, through a waist length to keep it directly above the rift, passed through the third krab on the outside of the ladder, and back to the person doing the pulling. This method gave a 2:1 mechanical advantage and proved that one person, using this system, could easily pull another up the rift. Two other people were required; one to pull up the ladder and the other to climb behind and ensure a smooth pull by adjusting feet etc. After this very encouraging operation had been carried out, a second bar was driven in immediately above the rift to give a more direct pull and perhaps enable two people to do the pulling. Also an attempt to get the bergen stretcher down the New Entrance was made but proved not to be successful. Further work is required at the bottom of the new shaft and should be made a priority. There seems little point in getting an injured person out of the main part of the cave, but finding the last few yards to the surface impassable. Editor's Note; a diagram of the method of fixing the krabs will be found below. A few comments on the rescue may perhaps be added here. I understand that the bod is pulled up on the ladder. As an example, I personally cannot climb past the bulge on the ladder, as I find there is not enough room for me and a ladder rung. Can I ask the author if this method would be suitable for someone my size? Also, whilst the work required to enable the stretcher to be got down the cave is obviously useful and should, as the author says, be given priority, should not the digging of the drain into the new entrance also be given a high degree of priority? The chances of people being trapped by water are statistically greater than that of a spinal injury and the provision of the drain would complete the work of ensuring that Cuthbert’s could be removed from the list of caves which are dangerous in time of flood. Alfie