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1 BELFRY BULLETIN Volume 35 Nos. 3 & 4 Numbers 395 and 396 March and April 1981 MONTHLY JOURNAL OF THE BRISTOL EXPLORATION CLUB The Bristol Exploration Club, The Belfry, Wells Road, Priddy, Wells, Somerset . Telephone: Wells (0749) 72126. Editor: G. Wilton-Jones, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire. Telephone: Aylesbury (0296) xxxxx. CONTENTS:

Fish Pot Letter from B.A. Twiddle Monthly Notes Lakes Meet, 1981 Lifeline Membership List Easter Meet, 1981 B.B. Exchange List *

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p2 p3 p 3/4 p5 p6 p7–9 p9 p 10 *

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Rather a short B.B. this bi-month, I'm afraid. Several snippets of news but few articles. I've kept back one article for next month, on Cheddar Caves, in case nothing else comes in. I’m determined to do at least another monthly B.B. this year! I’ve been premised various writings, including Iceland, Diving in 1980, Use of Explosives Underground, Mendip Mines, Lake District Walks, Tackle Care, Vercours in Winter and a Song about Biffo! If you all keep your promises, then we shouldn't go short on material. *

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WORLD DEPTH RECORD BACK IN THE PYRENEES? It is reported from France that a cave close to the P. S.M. has recently been descended to world record depth. If the report is correct then the depth will be well over 1400 metres. CUTHBERT’S LEADERS: Andy Sparrow and Jim Durston are now leaders once again, and Ian Caldwell has been accepted as a leader. Cave Keys for PINETREE POT and BROWNS FOLLY: These keys are now in the library and are available to members in the usual way. CUTHBERT’S RESCUE PRACTICE: This will be held on Saturday May 2nd. We will meet at the Belfry at 10 o’clock in the morning. Anybody and everybody is welcome to come along, except for Crikey Mollins and Deadly Ernest! BRADFORD POTHOLE CLUB WINCH MEET Gaping Ghyll: We shall once again be going to this event to goad the B.P.C., pinch the winch, throw chairs down the main shaft, and generally have a good time. Remember the dates: Friday May 22nd evening until Monday May 25th afternoon. If you want to have beer taken up for you let Martin or me know a.s.a.p. We generally camp up above the B.P.C. city, in our own little village. Let us know if you fancy coming along. Many trips will be available.


2 FISH POT by Dave Hatherley Neil Brown heard a rumour that was going around Broadway in Worcestershire about a cave in the Cotswolds, into which a dog fell, and a group of cavers from Gloucester were called to get it out. The cave was reported to be 100 feet deep and the sound of rushing water was heard from the bottom. This was all in late 1978. In early 1979 we went to the alleged 'cave'. Deep snow was on the ground and there was no way we could cover our tracks on this private property. We found the cave easily for a high wire fence had been put around it. We climbed the fence and pushed ourselves under a large oak tree root. On this cold night the feel of warm air draughting from the 'cave' was bliss on our chilled faces. We had no caving kit with us but, with hopes high, we decided to return at Easter, that being my next holiday. Next Easter holiday found me with Neil plus 100 feet of tackle ready to descend this 'cave'. We still had doubts as to its authenticity. There are no caves in that region and being in Inferior Oolitic Limestone a call on the farmer seemed warranted. The farmer only confirmed the original story he was very helpful and relations are good. The next Saturday night we called on Frank Trowman (The Incredible Lump) to see if he could assist. Unfortunately he was tied up, being three parts the worse for wear. At 23.00 we decided to go it alone. With a few cans of beer and plenty of tackle we headed for the 'cave'. We changed and started walking towards the wood where the cave lies when suddenly a car pulled up. There was no way we could disguise ourselves but for cavers. The driver of the car was very cooperative and explained that he was the warden from the nearby nature reserve and had recently taken the lease of the land on which the 'cave' lay. He was interested in our activity and would like to know the outcome as he had intended a nature walk to pass the cave mouth. We agreed to abide by his wishes. He wished us all the best and we carried on. We soon reached the cave entrance and belayed to a large oak tree outside the fence. We both slipped under the oak root and once again the warm draught of air hit us. The hole was directly beneath us but to the left was a huge pile of old bottles which looked as if they were going to slip into the hole. Neil said that tramps often came here and used this as their litter bin! We pushed one down and started to count the seconds‌..32 feet per second per second. "Bloody hell! That makes it over 300 feet." We then knew that we were in something big. The top was pretty well blocked, but, getting as much rubbish out as we could and, unfortunately, pushing some down, we had an opening just large enough for us to descend. We clipped on 20 feet of ladder and I descended with Neil life-lining in the cold air above. About 15 feet down I came to a boulder which had jammed itself in the rift. I tried to hit it down without any success. I ascended and Neil tried. Still no success. I went down again and this time thought, “Well, I can't move it. Can I squeeze past it?" I did. The rift opened out and I called up for another 20 feet of ladder. I clipped this on and descended through an easy ladder pitch to the top of a highly fluted part of the shaft, where one is able to get off the ladder and rest on the top of the fluted limestone. A lot of water at one time must have caused this. Once again I had run out of ladder and decided to ascend. Feeling pleased and excited Neil went down next with our final 60 feet of ladder. He must have gone 50 to 60 feet when there was a long pause. I called down. His voice seemed very far away when he reported that he had disturbed a colony of bats and was worried by all the broken glass that was falling. However he carried on. Soon I was holding only 2 to 3 feet of a 100 foot plus lifeline. After a long pause he started to return. He came out covered in mud and looking tired. He said he had bottomed it and had pushed a 5 - 6 foot 'stick into glutinous mud at the bottom. He reported no way on, but why were bats there and why was the cave draughting so much? I was so cold with the life-lining that I could not go down after him. Both of us were highly excited at our find but, being cold and extremely muddy, decided to de-rig the pitch. This proved harder than anticipated. The ladder got caught on the lodged boulder. I went down and for some reason made a right mess of things (highly unusual, this!). The ladder was in a hopeless mess - it was covered in mud and tangled like a tangle has never been. Mendip has nothing on this mud. It clings to everything and will not come off. I can honestly say it is the worst, dirty hole I have ever been in. Anyway, eventually we got this ball of mud up and decided to sort it out the next day. At last we got into clean clothes and warm car, and drove back to Evesham. This was at 3.00 in the morning. We called the cave Fish Pot because it is at the top of a hill called 'Fish Hill'. In the light of day we called back there to see a line of depressions through the woods. It looks as if it is a geological fault line. I am no expert on this so any advice would be welcomed.


3 Anyone wishing to visit the cave ( you must be mad ) should get in with Neil Brown, whose address will be found in the November B.B. One final thought: if this cave were on Mendip it would be a first dig job. It must go somewhere with it draughting like that. *

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LETTER TO THE EDITOR. Somewhere in Darkest Somerset. B.A.T. 1 P. Dear Editor, It would appear some strong words have been caused by the presence of a large wicker basket at the Belfry. I am now at liberty to divulge the reason for its presence. Your readers may recall that some months ago a certain gentleman, who took great delight in thrusting people into marrow fissures making them enlarge said fissures into cave sized passages, went away to parts foreign. All was peace and calm. For a time life once more went about its usual pace of “sleep, wake, pub, sleep, wake, pub”. Suddenly the peace was shattered by the return of the man of foreign parts. Suddenly innocent cavers found themselves forced down narrow fissures with large streams pouring upon them. Representations were made to the L.V.A. without success. Cavers Anonymous were speechless (mainly because they had just seen the latest prices of Petzl helmets). Then along came a gentleman called "Smuck" who shall remain nameless with a large wicker basket for the purpose of hiding from the gentleman of foreign parts. The basket serves a dual purpose - also holding objects of a weighty nature in case they may be placed in high places whence they may fall with a sickening thud upon the heads of certain unsuspecting Belfryites. I remain yours faithfully B.A. Twiddle *

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MONTHLY NOTES LONGWOOD-AUGUST: This piece of news, although anticipated, was received just too late for inclusion in the last B.B., so it may be old hat to many Mendip regulars. Pete and Alison Moody have finally reached the elusive waterfall at the end of Reynolds’s Rift. The noise is created by what is presumed to be all or part of the Longwood stream issuing from a 15cm diameter hole. The passage continues, aqueous and narrow for the most part and with a current strong enough to wash away your nife cell, according to Alison, and eventually reaches a sump. A possible route above this is visible - a black space with boulder obstructions – and this is the next site to be pushed. Since Andy Sparrow has been here with Pete and Alison we shall expect a full report from him. By the way, Andy, don't forget that you owe us an article Lionel's as well, to go with the survey which has already been published.


4 SUN MAGIC CHEMICAL HEAT: Fred Weekes of the Valley Caving Club is currently trying out these Orient-manufactured heat bags. A powder is contained within a cloth bag and this is in turn sealed from the air with a polythene bag (17 x 12 cm). When the polythene bag is torn open and the inner bag of powder shaken or pummelled, oxygen from the atmosphere reacts with the powder and heat is given off. I have not measured the temperature so it is best described as 'warm'. It lasts for up to 24 hours. Various of these bags were tried out during the Lake District meet - they worked very well on the tops of the hills and around the several bars, although one failed dismally in the murky depths of Windemere. Presumably they are no good when wet. If Fred thinks they will be a success he will be marketing them for about 80p. each - good value if kept for use in emergency, as you would a space blanket or a chemi-light. WEST KINGSDALE SYSTEM: Last year members of the Northern Section of C.D.G. spent a number of trips exploring Jingling Avens, beyond the long Frake's Passage sump. Some 150 feet above the water level a wide bedding plane was pushed until it became 'uncomfortable'. At this point it is only about six feet below the level of the N.S.G. digs in Jingling Pot. It would see that yet another link in the West Kingsdale System is nearing completion. LANCASTER EASEGILL SYSTEM: This cave continues to grow, with another half mile of passage discovered beyond sumps near Fall Pot. It has been named Woodhouse Way. CAVE ART IN BRITAIN: At the beginning of the year there were various press reports of the discovery of some cave paintings in Wales. Some controversy still surrounds these works, which are said to show a deer and a bison. In fact they are not paintings (any more?) but rock etchings. WIG-PRINTS IN WELSH CAVE: Hitherto the only known Wig-prints in Britain were to be found in St. Cuthbert’s Swallet. Recent investigations concerning Wig-prints in Wales, have been fruitless. Reports of Wig-prints at other spelaeological sites are likely also to be mere rumour. There is fairly conclusive evidence to support the theory that the creator of Wig-prints no longer leaves his humble Mendip abode. NORTHERN CAVE FINDS: In the Northern Pennines a complex, phreatic, joint-controlled network of passages is presently being explored. It has so far been surveyed to a length of two miles by members of the Gritstone Club. A second cave has been discovered in the Magnesian Limestone at Maltby, and its Phreatic origins suggest that many other similar caves probably exist in this extensive strip of limestone. At the upper end of Littondale, near Halton Gill, 1000 feet of stream passage has been dug into. Named Snuffit Pot, it is a significant drainage route for several of the caves in the area. The recent extension of Marble Pot to a depth of nearly 300 feet has been cut off by an enormous collapse. This is likely to take several years to clear! More details of the above four items can be found in Caves and Caving, a copy of which is in the club library for those members not belonging to BCRA. OTTER HOLE: A leadership system is now operating, organised by the Royal Forest of Dean Caving Club. At the time of printing there are no guest leaders, and trips are therefore limited to weekends only. We have two trips arranged for this year. They are both over-tide trips i.e. about 12 hours duration (plus or minus 3 hours). Dates are:

July 11th starting at 10am. August 29th starting at 1pm.

If you are interested phone Martin Grass on Luton 35145.


5 After a very successful February meet in the Lake District I made everyone promise an article or a brief note for the B.B. – everyone that is, except Kangy, who was somehow overlooked. Shame on you all – Kangy is the only one to have put pen to paper. He writes: “Apart form the pub, we did Great Gable by the Traverse - plenty of flat areas of ice to fall over on and strong cold wind - and came down over Base Brown. On Sunday we spent a long time getting to Pavey Ark and even longer getting on top. The loose powder over the ice was no help…I may well have filled Glenys Grass's earhole with a snowball – could you apologize publicly .... " He also writes: WHATEVER IS WORTH DOING IS WORTHWORDS. In Langdale as the snow came down And capped the hills with soft white crown, We shelter sought from bitter day With warmth and drink to cheer our clay. With Old Peculiar and old rum, We thawed ourselves and one by one Relaxed and burbled in our beer Of icy climbs and frozen gear. The B.E.C. had rented cheap Stone cottages among the sheep Of Lakeland by the Dungeon Ghyll, From there to climb and drink their fill. Befuddled by the warmth and rum, And missing those who hadn't corns, We found the moot in snowy weather Was spent in different pubs together. The simple answer to this brick (Ordering more and drinking quick) 'Was, drive off from the "Drunken Duck", (And guided by the Gods of Luck And by these friends who shouted more) Find "Britannia", and its welcome door. We found it soon cocooned in snow, And all within was rosy glow, The Tetleys tipple too was good Beer drawn non-stop from the wood. And in a room exclusively United we’re the B.E.C. So once again the chat was keen We planned tomorrows climbing scene. We didn't sing, we didn't shout But at the time for chucking out Boisterous spirits over spilled And air with flying snowballs filled. Kangy. Bristol Exploration Club Meet February 1981. P.S. Sorry, Glenys!


6 LIFELINE by Tim Large CAVE KEYS: - As many of you will know the club holds keys for most of the locked caves on Mendip. They are kept in the library at the Belfry. If the library is locked then access can only be gained via a committee member (who all hold library keys). Recently some of the keys have disappeared notably G.B. Please do not hang on to keys any longer than is necessary, as other members are inconvenienced. If you require keys for a midweek trip it is usually easier to collect it at the end of the weekend. Alternatively I have at home keys for G.B., Longwood, and Singing River Mine and am usually at home weekday evenings. All you have to do is phone me at work on Wells 73960 and I can usually arrange for the key you need. TACKLE: - Recently a ladder being used on Arête Pitch in Cuthbert’s (while the fixed ladder is out for repair) failed with one Ian (Wormhole) Caldwell on it. Fortunately for him only one of the side wires snapped leaving him hanging on the other. He managed to scramble up to cave another day. The ladder was not of BEC manufacture. Again recently I have seen a ladder which had failed in a similar manner to the above in that the wire had snapped just above the first rung. It would appear that both ladders had been used, as is so often the case, by joining the two C links then passing a krab through the lot to attach to a belay. Only the other day I came across a ladder on the 20' in Swildons belayed in just this manner. It may be like teaching your grandmother to suck eggs to some people but it happens on club tackle too. It’s not good for the ladder and its not good for you when they break - and cause headaches! Always use a spreader or other method of belay so that the tails of the ladder are not stressed at such an acute angle. SWILDONS: - Pete and Alison Moody (WCC) have just dug into a passage in Swildons 4. It has now been surveyed to about 500' and is estimated to be beneath Fault Chamber. One sump has already been baled and passed but another confronts the team - work continues. AGGY RESCUE: - This much publicised rescue was over the weekend of 17/18 January and extended until midday on the 19th calling on large numbers of cavers from all over Britain. The casualty Tim Flanagan was caving with the Croydon CC on a trip to the end of Southern Stream Passage. As they were starting on their return back up SSP, a boulder fell and broke his leg in three places. From what we understand the party went underground at 10am, the accident happened around 5pm that Saturday evening. MRO assistance was requested at 9.30am Sunday morning. About 20 Mendip Regulars from BEC and WCC arrived in Crickhowell by about midday. Most went underground that evening while other’s assisted with radio communications using MRO equipment. The carry through Sunday night and early Monday morning was undertaken by the Mendip team - the victim still being in SSP being rather cold but in good spirits helped along by the Doctors bag of trips - oops I mean tricks!! Meanwhile in the entrance series another group of Mendips bods rearranged the cave!! to smooth the victims exit. He emerged at 1.30 on Monday afternoon. Throughout the rescue he was not put into any kind of exposure bag or waterproof suit which says something for his resilience. So don't have an accident at the far end of SSP. You’ll probably be late home for tea!! --------------------------------------------------------------------------H.M.S. Bulwark is to be scrapped six months earlier than planned. We should have known that Trevor's drunken activities would lead to this. How can the Belfry survive much longer? --------------------------------------------------------------------------My lovely older man is 44 and I'm 20. We met while caving beneath the Mendip Hills in Somerset. I think it was the way he so delicately removed my hand from my hold on the cave wall that first made me notice him. It caused me to fall flat on my face into three feet of freezing water. With a sense of humour like that, how could I resist him? from a letter to The Sun. Who could it be, do you suppose?


7 BRISTOL EXPLORATION CLUB - MEMBERSHIP LIST

828 20 L 392 L 818 390 L 214 L 731 364 L 336 L 145 L 959 868 967 751 L 981 956 977 955 902 L 785 655 983 211 L

Nicolette Abell Bobby Bagshaw Mike Baker Chris Batstone Joan Bennett Roy Bennett Bob Bidmead Pete Blogg A. Bonner Sybil Bowden-Lyle Chris Bradshaw Dany Bradshaw Michael Brakespeare T.A. Brookes Terence Buchan Ian Caldwell Tony Callard Jack Calvert Martin Cavendar Paul Christie Colin Clark Jane Clarke Clare Coase

89 L 862 585 890 680 405 L 423 L 449 815 164 L 972 830 937 847 779 322 L 269 L 404 L 468 569 469 978 835 648 860 790 432 L 104 L 4L 974 917

Alfie Collins Bob Cork Tony Corrigan Jerry Crick Bob Cross Frank Darbon Len Dawes Garth Dell Nigel Dibben Ken Dobbs Mike Duck John Dukes Sue Dukes Michael Durham Jim Durston Bryan Ellis Tom Fletcher Albert Francis Keith Franklin Joyce Franklin Pete Franklin Sheila Furley Len Gee Dave Glover Glenys Grass Martin Grass Nigel Hallet Mervyn Hannam Dan Hassell Jeremy Henley Robin Hervin

Addresses removed

March 1981


8 952

Robert Hill

905 793 898 899 387 L 923 855 73 969 540 L 792 922 51 L 560 L 907

Paul Hodgson Mike hogg Liz Hollis Tony Hollis George Honey Trevor Hughes Ted Humphreys Angus Innes Duncan Innes Dave Irwin Ken James Tony Jarratt A Johnson Frank Jones Karen Jones

567 L 884 316 L 542 L 413 L 946 874 667 L 958 930 574 L 58 550 L 725 106 L 980 979 558 L 963 957 308 936 852 880 938 964 396 L 22 L 499 L 961 337 622 481 L 452 L 343 L 672 L 945 970 921 832 941

Alan Kennett John King Kangy King Phil Kingston R. Kitchen Alex Ragnar Knutson Dave Lampard Tim Large Fi Lewis Stuart Lindsay Oliver Lloyd George Lucy R A MacGregor Stuart McManus E.J. Mason John Matthews Richard Matthews Tony Meaden Clare Merritt Dave Morrison Keith Murray Dave Nichols John Noble Graham Nye Kevin O’Neil Lawrie O’Neil Mike Palmer Les Peters A. Philpott Mick Phinster Brian Prewer Colin Priddle John Ransom Pam Rees A Rich R Richards Steve Robins Trevor Roberts Pete Rose Roger Sabido John Sampson


9 240 L 359 L 760 237 L 482 78 L 213 L 915J 823 984 1L 38L 575 L 365 L 772 284 L 348 L 571 L 994 699 700 80 74 L 381 L 157 L 769 678 912 925 635 L 887 982 175 L 949 553 940 934 885 916 568 721 850 813 943 877 914

Alan Sandall Carol Sandall Jenny Sandercroft Bryan Scott Gordon Selby R Setterington Rod Setterington Chris Smart Andrew Sparrow Dave Speed Harry Stanbury Mrs I Stanbury Dermot Statham Roger Stenner Nigel Taylor Alan Thomas D Thomas N Thomas Martin Thompson Buckett Tilbury Anne Tilbury Postle ThompsettClark Dizzie ThompsettClark Daphne Towler Jill Tuck Sue Tucker Dave Turner John Turner Gill Turner Stuart Tuttlebury Greg Villis Christine Villis Mrs. D. Whaddon John Watson Bob White Val Wilkinson Colin Williams Claire Williams Jane Wilson Brenda Wilton Graham Wilton-Jones Annie Wilton-Jones Ian Wilton-Jones Simon Woodman Steve Woolven Brian Workman * * * * * * * * EASTER MEET, SOUTH WALES

Once again the club will be meeting over the Easter weekend in the Usk Valley. Last year there were about 50 cavers on the camp site, over half who were B.E.C. members. Let’s hope we can make and even bigger showing this year. Most people will be staying from Thursday April 16th night until Monday 20th evening. Caves already booked are Pant Pawr Pot, Agen Allwydd and Tooth and Llethrid Caves. Trips are also planned for Hepste River Caves and Little Neath.


10 Campsite is at Llangatock, beyond the recreation ground. See you there.

“Tell me about this hang-up of yours!”

List of clubs with whom we exchange club journals, which may be found in the Belfry Library. Wessex Cave Club. Mendip Caving Group. Shepton Mallet Caving Club. Cerberus Spelaeological Society. University of Bristol Spelaeological Society Red Rose Cave and Pothole Club. Chelsea Spelaeological Society. The British Caver. Axbridge Caving Group. Grampian Spelaeological Society. Devon Spelaeological Society. Northern Pennine Club.

Westminster Spelaeological Group. B.C.R.A. G.S.B. del CAi. S.W.E.T.C.C.C. Plymouth caving Group. London University Caving Club. Dorset Caving Group. Bradford Pothole Club. Dr. H. Trimmel, Austria. Descent. Mendip Cave Registry. Somerset Mines Research Group.


11 Gloucester Spelaeological Society


Belfry Bulletin Number 395_396