1 BELFRY BULLETIN Volume 33 Number 12 Number 380 December 1979 MONTHLY JOURNAL OF THE BRISTOL EXPLORATION CLUB The Bristol Exploration Club, The Belfry, Wells Road, Priddy, Nr. Wells, Som. Telephone: Wells 72126. The views expressed by contributors to the Belfry Bulletin, including those of club officers, are not necessarily the views of the committee of the Bristol Exploration Club or the Editor, unless so stated. The Editor cannot guarantee that the accuracy of information contained in the contributed matter, as it cannot normally be checked in the time at his disposal. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Editor: D.J. Irwin, Townsend Cottage, Priddy, Nr. Wells, Somerset. Telephone: Priddy 369. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------CONTENTS: GIBRALTAR The Odd Note Friday Night Trip Programme Letter to the Editor SOME SMALLER YORKSHIRE POTS 1979/80 Subscriptions Jottings YORKSHIRE ‘79 Lifeline
2 5 6 6 7 8 9 10 12
THE EDITOR, THE BELFRY COLLATORS, SUE, 'THE POST' WISH ALL OUR READERS A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A PROSPEROUS NEW YEAR… Swildon's 13 in 1980? Cuthbert's 3 in 19801 Tyning's Extended in 1980? Cuthbert's Survey in 1980?
READ THE BB AND FIND OUT. Happy New Year! ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------DON'T FORGET YOUR SUBS. THEY ARE NOW DUE…… FULL MEMBERS: £8.00
JOINT MEMBERS JUNIOR MEMBERS
Pay up and look big!
Merry Christmas, after you've paid your subs
2 From the Belfry 'horror' (worse than Zot ever was!) Trev Hughes gives us an account of his recent visit to the world famous Rock of Gibraltar. I'm led to understand that it is still standing…… The BEC Get Everywhere - Gibraltar By Trev Hughes A three week working visit to the Rock of Gibraltar by HMS Bulwark over the period 22 Sept to 12 Oct provided plenty of spare time to plan and carry out a reasonable amount of dives, caving trips and walks/cycle rides about the upper Rock. As most people won't have been to Gib I'll start off with a few historical and geographical details to help set the scene. The earliest known inhabitants were Neanderthal Man and various stone age animals known, by their remains found in various caves, to have lived on the Rock up to 40,000 years ago. The Romans called the Rock "Calpe" as one of the Pillars of Hercules, believing it to mark the edge of the world. The next owners of the Rock were the Moors under Tark-ibn-Zeyad after whom the Rock was named: GibelTarik (Tarik's Mountain). They held the Rock until 1462 when it was surrendered to the Spanish. The British, under Admiral Rooke, captured the Rock in 1704. Gibraltar was ceded to Britain in 1713 following the treaty of Utrecht and became a Crown Colony in 1830. The work to turn it into a modern naval base began 1893, most of the subterranean fortress was dug during World War Two. Today about 31,000 people live on the Rock. The Rock is basically a limestone peninsula lying N-S about 55km long by 1½km wide, the highest point being 424m above sea level. The shape of the Rock, a sharp ridge, was determined by the near vertical dip and a major fault which caused the east of Gibraltar to slip into the sea, hence the steep eastern cliffs and water catchment. The top outline was affected by frost shattering in the Ice Age which lowered the height of the Rock by several hundred feet. On the western side the land drops-down, in a series of levels, to the reclaimed land just above sea level. On the rugged Upper Rock there are many wild flowers including the Gibraltar Candyfuff - a unique in Europe. Lower, in pockets of ochreous soils grow pines, Eucalyptus, Hibiscus, Oleanders and other Mediterranean plants. I'll go through each type of activity separately and what better to start with than caving. Being a big ship Bulwark has its share of cavers and apart from myself onboard there are Geoff Ford (BEC and Ex HMS Daedalus) Len Tyler (ex HMS Daedalus) and Chris Waterworth (Manadon Caving Club) all known to Belfyites. Of course there are the forty or so people prepared to "give it a go" for whom trips to lower St. Michael's cave (more correctly called New St. Michaels) were arranged. By far the best cave visited was the lower series of Old St. Michael's Cave (the lower lower series). Geoff, Len, Chris and myself with a local caver called Tits spent a most energetic 2½ hours in this cave. It is not very extensive but has a vertical range of 240ft and is comparable to a Fairy Cave Quarry cave turned on its end. It is a superbly decorated system whose chambers are joined by a collection of fine sporting squeezes and boulder ruckles, it also contains the finest tasting water on the Rock. I must mention it is not a cave for the Chris Batstones of this world. Apart from the St. Michael's caves other caves visited included Martin's Cave which is full of huge bats and, as Tony Jarratt will know, there is a fine engraving available to those who search - I bought a print in a local junk shop for a most reasonable sum. Another interesting cave visited by Chris and myself was Fig Tree Cave No.2 (we couldn't find No.1) marked No.3 on map. This cave has very good dig potential, a low sand and pebble choked crawl heads into the Rock. Many smaller caves were visited while out walking and to this aim I recommend the Mediterranean steps which descend the steep Eastern Cliffs - rather like the path up to Crib Coch but with the additional hazard of huge cactus bushes at every corner. There are many other caves worth a visit especially, so I hear Georges Bottom, not found this time but I have marked the location on the map (No.4). It is said to be tight and sporting.
3 The best person to get in touch with reference to caving is a local shopkeeper and part-time soldier: Ernest (Tits) Serra SPQR Tobacconists 146 Main Street, Gibraltar Tel.4395 (shop hours). Its is a very helpful contact and will arrange trips for any visiting caver, most easily at weekends. With so many cave sites on the Rock (about 170) a fair selection can: be found on the Upper Rock especially if the show cave bar is visited first where there is an excellent cave location map (1:5280). Key to Cave Sites on Map 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
St. Michael’s Caves Martin’s Cave Figtree Cave No.2 George’s Bottom South Cave
6. 7. 8. 9.
Gorham's Cave Boathoist Cave Pocci Roca Cave Haynes Cave
For the sub aqua enthusiast there is plenty of scope around the rock. In general the underwater visibility is good (10-14m) and the water fairly warm, about 19OC at 10m. Even in the winter months the water never drops below 15°C. The tidal range is about 1m and as a result, of this a moderate current sweeps round Gibraltar Bay just after the turn of the tide, the strongest currents are off Europa Point and at these times this area must be avoided. The best diving is to be had off the Western side of the Rock and I'll go through the better sites visited. At the Northern end of the detached mole are two wrecks (site A) - the "inner" and "outer". The inner wreck may be located by swimming out about 25m from a green water tank on the mole. The outer wreck is linked to the inner by a rope tied to both, it bears 290° magnetic from the inner wreck. The depth of water is about 20m, vis. good, and the current negligible except at turn of tide springs. Both wrecks are well shattered and much dived on. A first world war Enfield machine gun has been recovered from this area. Further down the remains of a gate across the mole gives the location of the SS Excellent (site B) about 25m out from the mole in 20m of water. She is upside down the sandy bottom. Both sites are good for octopus but beware of large conger eels. By far the best wreck to be dived on is the SS Rosalyn on the Southern side of S mole (site C). She is very easily found by swimming out about 20m from the mole leaving it at the northern end of the central casemate. The wreck is largely intact, sits upright on the bottom in 21m of water. I don't know her exact history but Rosalyn dates from about World War 1 and was sunk in World War 2. Her stem and stern are complete but her centre castle has been demolished in recent years. The wreck may be entered but extreme caution is required. The engine room and holds are open but "finds' will be limited as she is dived on regularly, Moving off wrecks and onto the delights of nature. The Seven Sisters rock pillars in 10 - 22m of water are well worth a visit (site D). Many varieties of fish are to be found and all are so used to seeing divers that you will be treated with total disinterest. The occasional octopus, some of a fair size, are to be had in deeper water. They live in such things as old car tyres and the like. The occasional stone gin bottle may be found in deeper water (25 m +). Further south at Camp Bay (site E) are two sunken barges in 10m of water. This site is where the old Men-o-war used to anchor for victualling purposes. In 15m of water many stone gin bottles and for the lucky, glass Hamiltons can be found. Of our four dives in this area with about 25 man/dives we collected seven Hamiltons and 'enough' stone bottles. This area is also good for fair sized octopus but in deeper water the current is N-S and fairly strong.
4 THE ROCK OF GIBRALTAR Scale 1:20,000
Further south Little Bay (site F) is an interesting dive site, shelving steeply to 23m, it is well worth a visit to study the marine life. The current (N-S) is fairly strong here at times. Further south there is a good reef dive to be had in 13m of water off Europa Point (site G). A guide is needed here for location and for checking the current which runs up to 1½ knots here. I have not dived on this site. The Joint Services Sub Aqua club of Gibraltar containing a mix of service and civilian divers are the mainstay of resident diving on the Rock. They are a very active and social bunch and meet on Monday evenings at their superbly equipped (also has a bar) hut on Coaling Island. They may be contacted on Dockyard Phone No.4460 any day except Monday and Tuesday. They have charging facilities and plenty of gear and make visiting divers most welcome. Points to note are that boat cover is needed at most sites for accessibility and safety, diving is not permitted in Rosia Bay and for diving off the moles the AQHM should be notified on Dockyard 5901. The best way of diving in the area is with JSSAC and ask for their assistance for boats etc. I hope all this has been some help to anybody thinking of visiting Gib. As a postscript I must add that there are over 200 pubs and bars on the ROCK “Everything to Excess". ---------------------------THE ODD NOTE: Alderley Edge Mines by Chris J. Carlon. Paperback book on these interesting mines 144pp, photographs, surveys and diagrams. Useful bibliography included. Published by John Sherratt and Son Ltd., Altringham. Price £2.85. It has been fairly well documented that Jerry Murland has dived to a depth of 160ft in the Magpie Mine Shaft, Derbyshire thus beating the 150ft depth record in the U. K. by Martyn Farr in Wookey 25. With only 10ft in it one wonders how accurate the depth gauges are. Cerberus break through in Maesbury Swallet. First dug by BEG about 1969. The CSS have re-opened the site and have discovered about 150m of passage. This club is also at work attempting to connect Fairy Cave with the now blocked Fernhill Cave. Though they have not found Fernhill itself they appear to have found new cave over the position of Fernhill. More new books of interest to members: Bath Stone - A Quarry History by J. Perkins, A. Brooks and A.McR Pearce. Kingsmead Press 1979. Price £1.25. The Situation Level and Future of caving in Wales – A Strategy for caving by Frank Baguley, 28pp. Price 25p + 13½p postage, available form the author. From the latest British Caver 'Any caver who wants a rope for a climb I do without it is chicken. Any caver who climbs a pitch that turns me back is reckless' ------------------------------------NEW MEMBERS 967 Mike Breakspeare, 7 Red Pit, Dilton Marsh, Westbury, Wilts. 968 James Tasker, 281 Canford Lane, Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol. 965 Gary Chubb, Wheels, Southwater St., Southwater, Nr. Horsham, Surrey. 691 Dudley Herbert, 20 Rundwick Rd., Brislington, Bristol. 964 Lawrie O’Neil (nee Hiscocks), joint with Kevin O’Neil, 99 Forest Rd., Melksham, Wilts. 969 Duncan Innes, 18 Davids Close, Alveston, Bristol. 966 Pete Johnson, R & IT Section, HMS Daedalus, Lee on Solent, Hants. ADDRESS CHANGES: Martin Grass and Glyn, 13 Granville Rd., Luton, Beds. (Tel. Luton 35145) Jim Smart, 73 Queen's Rd., Clifton, Bristol.
6 For those that want to get in that extra trip over the weekend then the FRIDAY NIGHT TRIPS might fill the bill…. The programme for 1980 is given below…..only make a mental note where to find this programme as space in the B.B. may not be there to reproduce all tips in detail. Jan 4th - Manor Feb 1st - Lamb Leer Mar 14th - Fairy Cave Quarry Apr 11th – Reservoir May 9th – Stone Mines June 6th - Longwood July 4th Singing River Aug 1st - Tyning's Sept 12th - S. Wales Oct. 10th - Eastwater Nov 7th - Rods and Read's Dec 5th - Longwood.
Jan 18th Cuckoo Cleeves Feb 15th Tyning's 29th - Swildon's (Black H) Mar 28th S. Wales April 25th St. Cuthbert's May 23rd GB (Great Chamber) June 20th Barbeque - Candles in Burrington July 18th Cow Hole Aug 15th Swildon’s Round. Trip 29th Pinetree Sept 26th Thrupe Lane Oct 24th St. Cuthbert's Nov 21st GB and finally
Meet at the cave at 7.30 p.m. or contact Brian Prewer, tel. Wells 73757 ---------------------------LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Dear Dave, I agree with Tim Large's comments in the October B.B. about Life Members. It was because I considered the B.E.C. offered the finest value for money on Mendip that I became a Life Member. The Life Membership fee seemed realistic at the time, but there is no doubt that soaring inflation has made it look silly. I look forward to reading my copy of the Belfry Bulletin but have no wish to be subsidised by today's youngsters. Why not work out the estimated cost per member per year and, at the same time as you ask for annual subs, you could ask for a magazine levy from long-time Life Members. I for one would be quite content to pay up, and I reckon most of my contempories would too. Yours sincerely, Len Dawes P.S. Please thank whoever it was who posted the sweatshirts to me. They’re great – worth the 12 month wait! Matlock Derbyshire. 2 8th November 1979. Thanks Len for your letter. Roy Bennett and myself have been preparing a letter to be sent to all Life Members suggesting the same idea and this should be in the post by the time this B. B. is published.
From Cross Bob. Dear Dave, By popular request, I have contacted our friend Mr. Sanderson at Chapel Stile in the Lake District with a view to renting his superior dwelling for our annual Lakeland Epic in February next year. If for some reason he cannot accommodate us, I propose to try Yorkshire Mountaineering Club at Copper Mine Cottages at Coniston, or possible Fell and Rock at Solving House, Borrowdale – unless anyone has other suggestions. The dates, by the way are February 14th - 18th inclusive, and the activities will no doubt take the same form as on previous winter meets so sharpen up your winter ice axes and crampons, and shake the mothballs out of your Duvets! Let's try to arrive at some numbers etc., as soon us possible so we will not be disappointed. Bob Cross, Mountaineering Sec.
7 From Derek Sanderson comes another of his interesting articles on the smaller caves and potholes of the Yorkshire Dales. SOME SMALLER YORKSHIRE POTS Often, the smaller caves and potholes can give as much fun as the more frequently visited deeper systems. They can also give much needed practice in use of ladders. Here are three such caves.
HARDRAWKIN POT - Map Ref. SD 745 768 Length 780' Depth 200' Grade III I first visited this cave two years ago. We (Keith Sanderson and myself) parked the car just north of the Hill Inn and followed the footpath towards Ingleborough. The entrance was soon reached at a loop in a drystone wall where stream rises from High Douk Holes and drops down a gulley into the cove mouth. The climb down can be slippery. The cave is a simple one, being linear, yet there is considerable variety to be found. The passage varies from narrow meanders to crawling over black cobbles in the streambed. There are some remarkable 'cauliflower' deposits on the walls and whole streamway is clean. After about 700', we arrived at the head of the first pitch of 90' where we found a choice between two bolts and a metal bar for belay points. We chose one of the bolts for the abseil rope as it gave an almost free hang. The descent of the magnificent shaft was invigorating and wet. The first 15' is not quite vertical, but below the descent is one of the best I have encountered. The landing is a flat circular platform from where the stream drops into some narrow cascades. Beyond the cascades is the second pitch of 45'. We belayed to a bolt on the right. The takeoff point is an exposed little ledge. The stream drops away to the left giving a fairly dry descent. The chamber into which the pitch loads is a strange place. It is formed in cross-rift with the stream falling directly into the sump pool at one end. The sump itself is a flooded shaft of considerable depth. The presence of the sump is unexpected because beyond it the stream drops over 150' in less than half a mile before it reappears in Hurtle Pot on its way to God's Bridge. The climb back up the big pitch is wet but the ladder hangs perfectly against the smooth grey rock for a fairly easy ascent. The cave is one of the best of the smaller ones weâ€™ve done, though I have visited it when the pitches were impassable due to flooding. The trip takes about 2 hours - which gives you ample time to get to the Hill Inn before closing time!
PENYGHENT LONG CHURN - Map Ref. SD 811 753 Length 1000' Depth 226' Grade III Situated about half a mile north of Sell Gill Holes, a few yards off the Pennine Way. We first visited this cave with Roger Wing in the hot summer of 1976. The entrance is an impressive 75' shaft with an elliptical top about 15' by 10'. A stream normally flows into the hole but on this occasion it was dry. Establishing a belay point can be a bit difficult, and we experimented with some timber posts across the corner of the pot before we finally settled for an outcrop of rock 10' away in the dried-up river bed. Roger is a bit sensitive about belay points, but eventually he accepted it. We also had to protect the rope from abrasion on the lip of the pot. Eventually, we all abseiled to the boulder floor below. The shaft bells out slightly and the wall are smooth with occasional beds of coarse black limestone. The view up to daylight is particularly pleasing and the climb back looks inviting.
8 From the base of the shaft the rest of the cave is governed by rift development. Easy walking leads to a traverse on ledges over a deepening rift. The traverse develops into a passage about 3' square formed by the washing out of a decaying shale band - that white pasty stuff. We dropped a 25' ladder down the rift just before this passage was reached. Below, the rift continues to drop over a number of climbs, one of which, according to Northern Caves Vol.2, needs a 30' rope, though we didn't use one. By now the rift is quite narrow with rough brown walls. Beyond the rope pitch is a false floor of wedged boulders with numerous holes down. Ahead, the rift is choked and a tight 40' descent is necessary. The first 25' we did on a ladder and then traversed onto a wedged boulder from where the last 15' was free-climbable. The floor of the rift then becomes a painful crawl over pebbles until the way on is too tight. A disappointing finish.
JINGLING POT - Map Ref. 699 784 Length 200' Depth 220' Grade III If you need experience of long pitches, then this is where to start practicing. It consists of a magnificent daylight shaft which gives a free-hanging pitch of 140'. Once down, there's not much else to do except climb up again! Roger and I first plucked up enough courage to do the pot about a year ago. It is situated just off the Turbary Road, a short distance from Rowten Pot. When we got to the entrance, I think we could easily have been persuaded to go somewhere else standing by the tree on the S.E. side and looking down the shaft we felt very exposed and vulnerable. However, we soon made the decision to go ahead with it, and with slightly wobbly knees we rigged the pot using the main stem of the tree as the belay point, the abseil rope being belayed about a foot above the ladder. We had the rope protector with us, but this was not needed as the lie of the rope was completely free. The abseil was a good one, but I was a bit too anxious to enjoy it very much! For much of the 140' descent, the dark walls are out of reach. About 50' from the bottom, one of the walls leans towards the rope to form a sloping ledge which is not quite suitable as a resting place, and the last part of the pitch is a bit awkward due to swinging. The rope creaked horribly, as is the habit of Marlow ropes when dry. The base of the shaft is a narrow rift. We dropped down the lower end to the deeper part of the rift and grovelled about in the blind pots at the bottom, but we were too preoccupied with the thought of climbing up the ladder to spend too long exploring. The climb, however, turned out to be very enjoyable and not particularly difficult. Roger climbed first. Silhouetted against the daylight, he would have made a good subject for a photograph. When it was my turn to climb, I found the first few feet awkward, but once I'd got started I found the free-hanging ladder fairly easy to deal with, though I grabbed onto the rungs for a rest a few times towards the top. One such resting point was about 80' up, where I could still just see the foot of the ladder, and where the walls were at least 20' away - a position of exposure which I found very satisfying. The climb itself took us little more than ten minutes each. Jingling Pot is only a small cave, yet it gives a good introduction to long pitches, and the trip is a memorable experience. -------------------------------------------SUBSCRIPTIONS The last date for payment of subs is 31st December 1979. If you HAVE NOT PAID, PLEASE send yours to Sue Tucker, 75 Lower Whitelands, Tynings, Radstock, Avon. Those not paying by the above date will not receive their January B. B. and. will have to re-apply for membership. Full Members £8.00; Joint Members £12.00 and Junior Members £6.00
9 To catch up with the news over the last few months we present an extended version of JOTTINGS Compiled by ‘Wig’ B.C.R.A. Winter Meet, Wells on December 8th 1979. About 100 cavers attended this mini-conference organised by Jim Hanwell for BCRA. The programme was wide ranging and including last minute change of the programme with Bob Cork outlining recent events in Wookey. Fred Davies gave his account of the marathon dig in Swildon’s Cowsh Aven that was eventually opened up to within 20ft of the surface. ‘Prew’ demonstrating his radio location gear; Chris Hawkes summarising the work at Westbury Quarry and Willie Stanton propounding a theory of the increase in ground water flow on Eastern Mendip. In an adjacent room an exhibition of old caving prints and postcards gave a new insight to armchair caving. It looks as if a selection of those caving prints will be on display at the 1980 BCRA Conference to be held at Nottingham University next September. BOOK OF 1980? THE DARKNESS BECKONS by Martyn Farr. Martyn Farr's first attempt at being an author will make its appearance early in 1980 in a 224 page book entitled 'The Darkness Beckons' - The History and Development of Cave Diving'. The Forward is by Mike Boon. In addition to the 50,000 word text there are 60 black and white and 16 colour illustrations plus 20 maps and illustrations. Price £8.95. BOOKS FOR THE CAVER 'Rocksport', the cavers shop in Wells, has entered the book market and books are changing hands at quite high prices. This is not because of their individual pricing, but due to price changes in the book market generally. Recent prices from various sources will give an idea of what the market rate is at the moment. Wookey Hole, Its Cave and Cave Dwellers. Balch, 1914 The Mendip Caves. Balch (Somerset Folk Series, 1927). Caves of Ireland. Coleman, 1965 Mendip, Its Swallet Caves and Rock Shelters. Balch 1937 1st Edition. Mendip, Its Swallet Caves and Rock Shelters. Balch 1937 2nd Edition. Delineations of Northwest Somerset, Rutter, 1829 Heart of Mendip, Knight. 1st Edition. Seaboard of Mendip, Knight. Cave Hunting, Boyd-Dawkins. Cave Hunting, Boyd-Dawkins (reprint) Caving. Baker Netherworld of Mendip. Baker and Balch The Mysterious World of Caves, Bauer, 1971 Subterranean Climbers, Chevalier, Dub. Faber & Baker Mendip Caves, Balch (bound copies of the three books) Mines of Mendip, Gough (1st Edition) Casteret - various books and reprints Les Abimes, Martel Perhaps you should have a look at your old caving books and insure them
£40 - £45 £10 £12 £6 £2 £40 -£50 £10 £15 £40 £2 - £3 £30 £30 £8 £8 £10 -£12 £10 £5 - £8 £140.00
10 From the pens of Martin Gross and Stu Lindsey comes a summary of their activities in Yorkshire since la Easter…. YORKSHIRE ‘79 After many beers and a puncture, four B.E.C. members arrived at Brackenbottom during the early hours of Good Friday. As Graham Price was sleeping like a babe, Graham W-J decided to abuse Liz, 'to help me sleep' as he stated in the morning. Still, back to caving. On Saturday Graham, Jim Watson and myself descended Birkwith Cave, Old Ing and Dismal Hill. The intention had been to visit Red Moss Pot but when we arrived at the farm to obtain permission we were turned away by the fanner because he said that if he gave us per mission to cross his land he was legally responsible and we could sue him. It looks as if insurance problems have reached the north as well as Mendip. Although Birkwith was short, but interesting and the water bitterly cold. By the time we came out poor Graham was near to exposure! Dismal Hill starts with a series of interesting free climbs and a very tight bedding plane which Jim could not pass, ending in a large but short section of streamway. We had the impression that the bedding plane flooded quickly and quite often. Old Ing was stomping size in the streamway with an interesting inlet (Rough Hill Inlet) containing an interesting duck – quite pleasant. That night we were joined in the Helwith Bridge by Stu Lindsey and Sue Jago inviting us down Link Pot the next day. A very fine trip was had and a detailed report on the cave is given below. Sue didn’t go down but went into Calf Holes and Browgill, her first caving trip in 11 years (and I didn't think she was old enough!) Having separated Graham and Liz, given him a cold shower, a peaceful night was had by all! Graham, refreshed, descended the Buttertubs to the great delight of the tourists who snapped away with their cameras at him in his bright orange suit. When all the excitement was over, we went down Cliff Force Cave. The entrance to the cave was completely blocked by snow and some time was spent making it large enough to emit Stu. We found this site to be rarely visited and very dismal, everything being covered with a thick glutinous mud showing signs of complete flooding. One very interesting part of the cave is Shower Chamber with fossils the size of side plates projecting from the walls and roof. Monday saw us all off to Mongo Gill making a trip from Shockle Shaft to North Shaft. This is a reasonably sporting trip taking about 1½ hours if the route is not known. The cave has some good stal, but considerable quantities it was removed by the 19th century miners. The route is not complicated but old mine workings tend to be confusing. Link Pot - to find Serendipity (the Big Pitch) .... The day began with the YES contingent set to clear a blocked cess pit! So a slightly depleted group assembled at Bull Pot Farm, where the mud of two weeks hence had improved to become unpleasantly cold but firm. Soon the intrepid quartet marched off across the moor, the old pores oozing sweat under the blistering midday sun but eventually this tract, from Lancaster to Link will become easier as a thousand feet blaze a new trail. Again navigation was spot on and it wasn’t long before we set about tackling the entrance (which looked bigger! – 9 – 10”). The beck was dry, and according to rumour even when in full spate, Link Pot remains free of water. Soon, with Martin G and Steve Throstle, muted shrieks of delight was echoing form the depths. Stu L did a quick ‘free fall’ before landing again on the most trodden part of the cave. Graham W-J brought up the rear as we headed down passage toward the boulder slope where we met NPC bods photographing in the chamber that leads to Lancaster. The two chaps from NPC hinted that they would take us into China Dog Chamber and maybe beyond. Using the ½ tube route we gained the 'T' Junction and Rybers Bypass (this is only 30 feet from the entrance!). The way on is via Night Shift Chamber, through a black hole in the floor. This awkward but short bouldery crawl leads, after a bit of stooping, to the aptly named 'China Dog'. This is at floor level, so
11 beware, do not step on it – it bites! It was here that NPC Bod No.1 requested a ladder; No.2 Bod hung it exclaiming that it was too short, used another and descended. Meanwhile Graham and Throstle, much to consternation of Bod No.1, had traversed out along the very dangerous traverse route and back again while looking for 'this very dangerous traverse'! Back at the pitch Martin followed Stu L down the ladder and through the meandering traverse trench to the Chamber where the rest of the party were in the throes of ‘piccy’ taking - Graham and Throstle being the willing models. The 'hard traverse' route is the best to follow bringing you out level with the fixed chain and the main way on. If a ladder is necessary, a 20ft belayed to a dubious stall boss is sufficient as the pitch is not exposed. At the bottom or the chain we were in a decidedly muddier section and with the departing words of 'turn right, up a passage' echoing in our ears we endeavoured to pick the right 'Right' from the three or four available. The chosen passage, the most obvious, led into a superbly decorated mud floored passage, the ends of which appeared choked. Entry into this panoramic vista was delayed as Stu modified the position of a jammed boulder. After a brief exploration we disappeared down a 2ft diameter 'phreatic drain hole' which became bigger and bigger, and bigger, till we suddenly turned a corner and found a pile of maypoles - we had spent over ½ an hour going round in a circle, but it was worth it. Venturing on up the passage, we left all the gear at a three-way junction. Stu and Martin’s route led to a boulder choke and Stu was saved from a flat-out crawl in a wet, gravely 10ft wide bedding plane, by Throstle’s shouts. Investigation found Graham and Throstle at another three-way junction, this one marked with a cairn. Splitting up again, Martin and Stu’s exploration of yet another bedding plane was curtailed by the muffled shouts of the others. Pursuit was in a low (8'' - 15" high) bedding, superbly decorated with stal pillars and miniature straws. After what seemed like 1,000ft (more probably only 100ft) a 'T' Junction was reached. The way to the left in a more spacious passage where eventually the roof began to rise and the passage became really big with the floor dropping down 25ft into a cross-rift. Opposite, the passage carries a large stream which cascades down the rift and disappears off to the right. Martin was first down and soon back again with the news that 20ft down the passage was the Big Pitch (65ft?). We had only brought one ladder this far (the remainder was at 3 way junction) so we might go as far as the head of the pitch only. A quick view of the pitch gave us the basic tackling requirements. To belay the ladder a small natural bridge can be used. The take-off is very exposed but the pitch is dry. A lifeline is necessary - 80ft, doubled, for the return. Time was running out and so a quick exit was made without fuss or mishap and we surfaced in 50 minutes after an interesting five hour trip. Later in the year, Stu L journeyed north again, it being the epitome of his achievements in the Dales. Snugled down on the back seat of the car between two of my mates and buried under a massive framed rucksack, was a reel of 'Bluewater 3'. Nearly 500ft of prime nylon, untested, and my passport to the spectacular confrontation with the beauty of the main chamber of Gaping Ghyll. Next day we despondently left the Y.S.S. cottage at Helwith Bridge accompanied by a fine drizzle. Would we be denied the Main Shaft? Could the weather thwart an ambition I had nurtured for nearly two years since that fatal day when all my ideals had been smashed and I did my first SRT descent? By the time we had reached the wild expanse of the Clapham 'Free' car park, the drizzle had lost its fizzle, but the sky was still heavily laden with black storm clouds. Q. Oi! What are you doing here? A Oi! What are you doing here?. Q . Oi! Oi! What are you doing here? – I thought you were doing Otter with Graham W-J et al. A. No! That’s next week wasn’t it? Well, if his wasn’t is, or his is, wasn't, Bit Jim perpetrator of Eric Watson has dipped out of that one! So began the sheer hell of trudging up the nature trail in sweaty wetsuits with sensitive shin being chaffed from sensitive parts, aching backs arched arc under bulging; rucksacks swollen with tackle, on we pound, on and on and on, leaving the hardcore roadway to crawl laboriously up Trow Gill to the slippery mud walkways that deposit us at the entrance to Bar Pot. Making our way over to GG with the plateau hidden under a thick blanket of cloud and the air full of fine drizzle, it was trying so hared to rain – an hour, one hour is all we needed, no rain for an hour! We closed in on the fenced in shaft, our haste leading us occasionally to peat bog mantraps. The fence was reached and the view marvellous… the beck was quiet – it was a dribble, a big dribble flowing meekly into the abyss -- it looked really good.
12 Walking upstream we inspected a couiple of sinks taking water and were able to relieve their burden by clearing natural blockages in the stream bed, thus allowing a quicker flow. My heart began to beat faster, all systems go! The ‘pit of the stomach’ feeling increased; it could rain now, I didn’t care. The rope, belayed to a rather rusty looking angle iron bolt some three feet out over the drop, had been carefully fed down through the swishing waterfall after checking the back-up belays – a bolt on the left and a large boulder outside. It was friendly in Jib Tunnel, its water hissing off into the spray filled void. My anxieties eased, the first man was down; a few seconds to get off….pulling hard….oops, too early, an aggressive tug from below warns me he is not off yet. I wait. I held the rope – it jerks, it’s free. Am on my way. Checking, double checking my knots, my gear, my screw gates. It's difficult to feed the rack, rope heavy, hands cold…..the last bar is on. I begin inching out, out towards that frail looking belay, forcing my rack higher up the rope and squirming towards the pitch head, searching forlornly for footholds on the slippery rock. My time had really come. I was hanging on my rack, poised above an abyss of roaring spray. The rope, a thin blue line disappeared into the quagmire of emptiness – there was no return, for me at least as I had never changed from abseil to prussic before, and not wanting to try it on this glorious free-hanging 340ft. Four feet down. The weight of the rope is difficult to feed, legs dangling helplessly in the torrent pouring from Jib Tunnel. Eight feet down, still fighting to feed the rope. Now totally immersed in the water; fighting the rope, freezing water, heavy and cold, bouncing - ‘Oh gosh’ I thought ‘The belays, the rope….’ 20ft, 40ft, 70ft, gentle bounces, cold icy fingers, now spinning gently, turning, the rope is easier now. Oh! How majestic are the waters of Fell beck as they cascade effortlessly into this spray filled void, now whispering peacefully and beauty in slow motion painted against the back-cloth of the fluted shaft. Ten million diamonds were sparkling on their afternoon dance of delight. A wall accelerates by – a wall – no resistance – wet rope – must brake – not too fast – easy. I look still braking, a shout from below '30ft'. Splash - bump - a bit fast - I'm down - it's over! Pulls from above, the next man is waiting. Time to get off the rope and into the warm - its cold standing under the 340ft waterfall and in the howling gale. I want to do it again. The last member of our party is descending. A thin needle of light appears, very slow, seconds melt into minutes. At last he is down. We’re all down and did we enjoy it – thank you – YES! Ed Note. Next month Stu L will be reporting on a visit to October Grotto in the Kingsdale Master Cave; Tim Large on work in Marble Pot, Cuthbert’s and sometime in the future there promises to be articles on visits to Ireland and Florida. Lastly though not least a Jottings column dealing with -----------------------------------LIFELINE from Tim Large Club Sweat Shirts - As many of you will have already seen, the first order has now arrived. Those members wanting to order should contact John Dukes as soon as possible. Carbide: A new supply of carbide has been purchased. Price will be 45p a lb. Digging Competition: This was eventually won by the Wessex with 700ft against our 400ft. A celebration barrel was held at the Belfry on the 2nd of December. The competition is being held again over the next 12 months. All new cave gratefully received from all members! Eastwater Cavern. The cave is now open again after a fine engineering job by the Wessex making a 15ft shaft. It is about 3ft square and drops to a more stable section of the ruckle in the lower reaches. C.S.C.C. The Hon. Secretary, Dave Mockford has resigned. A meeting is to be held in January 1980 to elect a replacement.
Published on Jan 6, 2010
Published on Jan 6, 2010
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