Craven Pothole Club Handbook


This edition produced March 1995

Officers and Committee 1995

President Geoffrey Workman, Wayside, Greenhow, Harrogate, N. Yorks, HG3 5JQ Tel:01423 712417

SeniorVice-President John Mason, Greenside, Kirk Lane Embsay, Skipton, N. Yorks, BD23 6SE Tel:01756 792079

Junior Vice-President Richard (Harpic) Espiner, 177c Highgate, Kendal, Cumbria, LA9 4EN Tel:01539 731029

Chairman Russell Myers, The Mews 1 East View, Main Road, Hellifield, Skipton, N. Yorks, BD23 4EU Tel:01729 850549

Secretary Pat Halliwell, Correspondence to Mrs PC Halliwell, The Computer Centre, Hull University, Hull, HU6 7RX. Tel:01482 465691(w) 87654f4(h)

Membership & Assistant Secretary Barbara Jenkins, 37 Sandown Close, Bagby, Thirsk, YO7 2PL Tel:01845 597300

Treasurer Robert Scott, 22 Hughendon Drive, Thornton, Bradford, W. Yorks, BD13 3AU Tel:01274 816910

Editor Ric Halliwell, Academic Office, Hull University, Hull, HU6 7RX Tel:01482 465948(w) 876544(h)

Recorder & Librarian Don Mellor, 64 Starkey Lane, Farnhill, Keighley, W. Yorks, BD20 9AN Tel:01535 635328

Tacklekeeper Andy Roberts, 38 Railway Road, Chorley, Lancs, PR6 0HW Tel:01257 240312w

Assistant Tacklekeeper Edward Whitaker, 21 Moorland Terrace, Skipton, N. Yorks, BD23 2JT Tel:01756 790223

Cottage Warden Steve Pickersgill, 37 Sandown Close, Bagby, Thirsk, YO7 2PL Tel:01845 597300

Committee Ian Buchanan, Mal Goodwin, Dave Hoggarth (SRT Tackle-keeper), Dave Milner, Terry Shipley, Patrick Warren, Alan Weight, Ted Wood

Some Notes for Probationary Members

The Craven Pothole Club was founded in 1929 and the membership is at present about 250. Members come from all walks of life and from many parts of the country. The Administration of the Club lies in the hands of a committee elected each year at the annual general meeting.

The Objects of the Club are to encourage and organise, for the benefit of members, the exploration of caves and potholes, fell walking, rock climbing, skiing and other similar pursuits. Regular Visits to the Yorkshire Dales and other caving areas, together with climbing trips to the Lake District and Scotland are integral features of the Club year. Additionally social gatherings play no small part in the life of the Club.

Every year a meets card is published and sent to members. The card gives details of organised club meets arranged at intervals throughout the year. In general underground Club Meets use ladder and lifeline techniques unless the meet is specified as an SRT Meet. Private meets are arranged at other times by many members and every weekend sees parties of members out and about above and below the hills and the dales. Many of these are engaged in the search for new caves and new caving areas.

The Club has a headquarters in Skipton where caving tackle and the Club Records and Library are kept. The Club Library is one of the most comprehensive in the north of England. The Club Records include a great number of books, surveys, photographs, and publications relating to caving and kindred subjects. They are available for use by any member at any time.

The field headquarters of the Club, situated at Horton-in-Ribblesdale, comprises Ivy Cottage, a hostel sleeping twenty-seven, Riverside, a cottage for the accommodation of family units, outhouses with a second tackle store, showers and drying room, together with a private car-park. The premises are adjacent to the Crown Hotel, on the Settle-Ribblehead road.

All Tackle is of a high specification and is maintained to the highest possible standards. Tackle may be taken out by members at any time at the discretion of the tacklekeeper. Although the Club has a stock of SRT rigging equipment only authorised SRT leaders may book out this equipment. The Club does not carry any stock of personal SRT equipment.

A quarterly publication - The Record - keeps members informed of Club activities and caving news and acts a vehicle for recording the activities of members. A Handbook published approximately biannually contains a list of members and other information about the Club.

The Club has a policy of keeping abreast of developments in the caving world on a local and on a national scale. This policy is achieved by Club representation on the Council of Northern Caving Clubs, and by members who serve on various national and local caving organisations.

Anyone wishing to see the Club in action is cordially invited to contact the Assistant and Membership Secretary, (providing details of their caving experience - if any) who will be happy to provide details of forthcoming meets and indicate which might be suitable for your level of experience. On arrival at a meet everyone should introduce oneself to the Leader whose name appears on the card for the meet in question.

The Club operates a Probationary Membership scheme the subscription for which is [[sterling]]7 for a six month period. Persons wishing to apply for membership must attend four underground meets of the club as a Probationary member. The annual subscription for full membership is [[sterling]]15 at the present time.

The current Assistant and Membership Secretary is:

Barbara J Jenkins
37 Sandown Close
North Yorkshire YO7 2PL
Tel: 01845 597300

Rules and Constitution of the Craven Pothole Club

  1. Name

    The Club shall be called "The Craven Pothole Club".

  2. Objects

    The objects of the club shall be to encourage and organise, for the benefit of the members, the exploration of caves and potholes, fellwalking, rock-climbing, skiing and similar pursuits.

  3. Members

    The members of the Club shall be persons of the following status:

    1. Ordinary Members who shall have full rights and privileges of the Club and who shall pay an annual subscription.

    2. Life Members who shall have full rights and privileges of the Club and who shall make a single subscription payment.

    3. Honorary Members who shall have full rights and privileges of the Club without payment of any subscription.

    4. Probationary Members who shall have certain restricted rights and privileges to be determined from time to time by the Committee and who shall pay an appropriate subscription. The principal restrictions on rights and privileges are as follows:

      Probationary Members may not:

      1. lead meets (Club or private) or have tackle booked out on their behalf

      2. vote at a general meeting

      3. stand for Office or for election to the Committee

  4. Membership

    Membership shall be open to any person not less than sixteen (16) years of age who has shown an interest in the objects of the Club.

    1. Application for Ordinary Membership shall be made by a Probationary Member who shall have attended at least four (4) underground meets of the Club. The Probationary Member shall be proposed for Ordinary Membership by two members of the Club. The completed nomination form shall be submitted to the Committee together with one year's subscription. Two Committee Members must report on the suitability for Ordinary Membership. Voting shall be by open vote, two votes to exclude, and at least two-thirds of those Members of the Committee present and with voting rights, voting in favour.

    2. Life Members must first have served fifteen (15) continuous years' Ordinary Membership of the Club and will be required to make one payment equal to fifteen (15) years' Ordinary Members' subscription (ruling at the time of application).

    3. Honorary Members shall be proposed and balloted for at an Annual General Meeting of the Club and be elected by two-thirds of the Members present and voting.

    4. Applications for Probationary Membership must be submitted to the Committee together with the current Probationary Membership subscription. Election shall be by open vote of the Committee, a simple majority in favour to succeed. A limit on the maximum duration of Probationary Membership may be set by the Committee.

  5. Subscriptions

    1. Ordinary Members. The subscription shall be determined by a General Meeting of the Club. The subscription year shall begin on January 1st. and subscriptions are due on that date.

    2. Probationary Members. The subscription period shall commence from the date of election. The rate of subscription and period of validity shall be as determined from time to time by the Committee.

  6. Resignations

    Any Member may, at any time, by notice in writing to the Secretary, resign membership.

    Any Member not having paid the subscription by April 1st. i.e. three (3) months after the due date will receive a final reminder that their subscription is overdue and shall then receive no further communication from the Club until subscription arrears have been cleared. Any Member not having cleared their subscription arrears by 31 August shall be deemed to have resigned.

  7. Removal of Members

    Any Member (other than a Probationary Member) committing a breach of these rules or acting in any way contrary to the interests of the Club may be expelled from Membership, at a Committee meeting, by a majority of at least two-thirds of the Committee present with voting rights and voting at the meeting. Such a Member shall have seven (7) days' notice and may attend the meeting.

    A Member so expelled by the Committee may, by giving fourteen (14) days' notice to the Secretary, appeal from the decision of the Committee at the next General Meeting of the Club. A majority of not less than two-thirds of the Members present and voting shall have the power to annul the expulsion.

    Any Probationary Member committing a breach of these rules or acting in any way contrary to the interests of the Club may be expelled from membership by a simple majority of the Committee present with voting rights and voting at the meeting. Such a probationary Member shall have notice and may attend the meeting. A probationary Member so expelled shall have no right of appeal.

  8. General Meetings

    The Annual General Meeting of the Club shall be held on the 4th. Saturday in November. The Secretary shall give not less than ten (10) days' notice to all members of the time and place of the meeting.

    The business of the meeting shall be to consider the accounts, reports and proposals of the Club's Officers and Committee, to elect the Officers and Committee of the Club for the coming year and to transact such other business as may be necessary. Nominations for Officers and Committee must be in the hands of the Secretary not less than three (3) clear days before the general meeting. Retiring Officers and Committee members shall be deemed to be renominated unless they have indicated otherwise. Should there be more vacancies than nominations then those currently nominated shall be elected and the Chairman may invite further nominations at the meeting to fill the remaining vacancies. Those elected shall take office from the day following the meeting.

    Notice of any motion affecting the Constitution and Rules of the Club must be in the hands of the Secretary, correctly proposed and seconded in writing, at least six weeks before the General Meeting and must be fully included in the notice of the meeting.

    Notice of any other business to be added to the agenda must be in the hands of the Secretary, in writing, signed by the proposer and seconder, at least three (3) clear days before the meeting.

    A special general meeting must be called by the Secretary to be held within twenty-one (21) days after receiving a written requisition signed by ten (10) members, giving not less than ten (10) days' notice and specifying the subject to which alone the discussion shall be confined.

    The Committee may also call a General Meeting of the Club. The Secretary shall give not less than ten (10) days' notice, specifying the subject to which alone the discussion shall be confined.

    No business shall be transacted at any general meeting unless there is a quorum of thirty (30) members with voting rights present.

    If at any special general meeting it shall be resolved that the Club be dissolved by a two-thirds majority of those present and voting, the Club shall be deemed to be dissolved. The assets of the Club shall be first applied to discharge of debts and liabilities and any surplus distributed between kindred clubs and organisations at the decision of the meeting.

  9. Officers

    The Officers of the Club shall be:

    1. President
    2. 2 Vice Presidents
    3. Chairman
    4. Secretary
    5. Assistant and Membership Secretary
    6. Treasurer
    7. Tacklekeeper
    8. Assistant Tacklekeeper
    9. Cottage Warden
    10. Editor
    11. Librarian and Recorder

    All shall be elected annually. The Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer must be over twenty-one (21) years of age. The Chairman shall have the power to use a casting vote at all general or committee meetings of the Club. The Chairman's decision on points of order shall be final.

  10. Committee

    The day to day management of the Club shall be vested in a committee consisting of all of the Officers of the Club and eight (8) elected Members who shall retire each year but be eligible for re-election. Seven (7) Committee members, of whom not less than two shall be Officers, shall form a quorum.

    The Committee shall have the power to co-opt to its number if a vacancy occurs or for consultative purposes.

    Members so co-opted for consultative purposes, ex-Presidents and Trustees (as ex officio members) may attend and speak at a Committee meeting but shall have no vote.

    No Officer or Committee member shall be entitled to vote at any Committee meeting unless fully paid up for the current year.

    A Committee member who fails to attend four (4) consecutive Committee meetings without giving reasonable explanation to the Committee shall be deemed to have resigned from the Committee.

  11. Trustees

    All monies shall be vested in the Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer for the time being.

    All other property of the Club whatsoever and wheresoever shall be vested in the Trustees for the time being. The Trustees shall be four (4) in number.

    Trustees will normally be appointed by the Committee: their appointments must be confirmed by the next annual general meeting.

  12. Meets

    1. Club Meets. The Club will arrange a number of meets throughout the year and the Committee will appoint a leader for each Club meet. The leader is in complete charge of all Club activities during the meet.

      Any Member (excluding Probationary Members) may invite guests to the meets subject to such regulations as the Committee may from time to time impose. Any Member inviting a guest to attend a meet is personally responsible for the guest above and below ground and must bring to the attention of the guest all the relevant rules of the Club. The Member must also ensure collection of the tackle fee from the guest and must obtain permission for the guest to take part in the activities of the meet from the meet leader.

    2. Private Meets. Members may borrow tackle for private meets. A leader (who must be an ordinary, life or honorary member of the Club) must be declared for each meet who shall be responsible to the Committee for all matters concerning that meet.

  13. Leaders

    Leaders shall be Members of the Club but may not be Probationary Members.

    Leaders of Club meets shall be not less than twenty-one (21) years of age and leaders of private meets shall be not less than eighteen (18) years of age. Leaders of Club meets and private meets shall assure themselves that all necessary permissions have been obtained.

    Leaders of Club meets may attend the Committee meeting immediately preceding their meets to discuss matters relevant to the meets.

    The leader of a meet is responsible to the Committee for the conduct of the meet; it is the leader's responsibility to direct the meet and inform all those attending of any local restrictions or limitations of access. The leader shall arrange for the tackle to be collected from and returned to the tackle store, clean and in good condition, and report immediately to the tacklekeeper any damage or loss of tackle. The leader must arrange for the collection of any tackle fees and forward these to the Treasurer. Leaders of Club meets shall submit to the Secretary within fourteen (14) days a written report of the meet and specify the names of any Probationary Members in attendance.

  14. Tackle

    Tackle will be issued only for leaders of meets and all tackle must be returned to the store immediately following the meet. All tackle must be returned in a clean state, all ropes and ladders correctly "rolled" and secured. Any damage or suspect tackle must be isolated and if necessary immobilised, the tackle record noted and the tacklekeeper informed of the circumstances. Any lost tackle must be noted on the tackle record and the tacklekeeper notified immediately.

    The rules and regulations concerning tackle which may be issued by the Committee from time to time are regarded as of paramount importance and any infringement is likely to render a Member liable to expulsion.

    Any non-member using Club tackle on any meet may be charged a tackle fee to be determined by the Committee.

    Tackle may be borrowed for private meets, provided there is no clash with any Club meet. Tackle so borrowed shall be the responsibility of the Member declared as leader of the meet. Any Member wishing to borrow tackle for a prolonged period, e.g. overseas trip, must make written application to the Committee giving full details including tackle required and precise dates for its departure and return and must satisfy the Committee as to the nature and composition of the meet and that adequate insurance cover has been obtained to cover the total replacement in the event of loss or damage. The tacklekeeper or assistant tacklekeeper must he informed immediately of the return of such tackle which must be carefully inspected before it is replaced in general use.

    The tackle requirements of Club meets will take priority over private meets.

  15. Cottage

    The Club Cottage is available for Members, their guests and other bodies, at the discretion of the Committee and subject to such regulations as the Committee may deem necessary from time to time.

    Members must book in immediately on arrival at the cottage and shall assume responsibility for any guest. All Members using the cottage are responsible for the implementation of cottage regulations and the Cottage Warden shall have absolute authority in matters affecting Members' conduct and that of their guests.

    Any infringement of cottage regulations is likely to render a Member liable to expulsion.

  16. Liability

    The Club cannot accept responsibility for any accident, whether by equipment failure or by any other cause to any Member or any non-member.

    Whilst all tackle and equipment is inspected regularly, it is the responsibility of all Members to inspect tackle and satisfy themselves to its safety prior to use. Persons using tackle do so at their own risk.

  17. Rules

    A copy of these rules and current regulations shall be supplied to each Probationary Member with the nomination form. Copies of the rules and current regulations are available to any Member on application to the Secretary.

    Alterations to these rules can only be made by a general meeting of the Club. A majority of two-thirds of those present and voting at the meeting is required to pass such alterations.

These Rules and Constitution were last amended at the Annual General Meeting held on 26th November 1994.

Craven Pothole Club SRT Rules

The Rules below are in addition to sections 12 & 13 of the Rules & Constitution.

  1. Leaders must agree to the regulations affecting SRT equipment.

  2. Leaders are in charge of all activities on their meets.

  3. Only authorised leaders may book out tackle using the logs provided.

  4. Rigging must be carried out by leaders or under their direct supervision.

  5. Leaders may refuse permission to anyone at any time during a trip.

  6. Official club meets take precedence for use of tackle over private meets. Permission must be obtained from the Committee before taking tackle out of the country.

  7. Leaders are responsible for checking the condition of ropes and "hardware" before and after trips.

  8. No ropes to be taken underground except in a tackle bag.

  9. It is recommended that ropes are wetted before use.

  10. Club SRT rope should not be used on pull-through trips.

  11. On return ropes must be washed immediately. Damage, falls and loss of equipment must be recorded on the logs and reported to the SRT Tacklekeeper as soon as possible.

  12. Ropes must be stored in the approved manner and not left in tackle sacks.

  13. Maillons and hangers will be booked out in tens and must not be left unscrewed.

  14. No wet cells e.g. Oldhams to be used.

  15. No figure of eight type descenders to be used.

  16. Rope protectors should be avoided if at all possible.

  17. Members wishing to apply for SRT leadership must rig a minimum of 2 potholes in the presence of 4 different leaders.

  18. After gaining 4 signatures members may then apply to the Committee for acceptance.

  19. Leaders issuing ropes to unauthorised persons or found to be abusing the rules will be removed from the list.

Agreed by the Committee on 8/10/1993 and amended on 15/4/1994

List of SRT Leaders approved by the Committee

Simon Ashby, Alan Davey, Mal Goodwin, Pat Halliwell, Ric Halliwell, Dave Hoggarth, Martin Holloway, M (Fritz) Hrynyk, Barbara Jenkins, Bob Jenkins, Steve Keedy, Steve Kelley, Maggie MacPherson, Paul Norman, Steve Pickersgill, Simon Rowling, Rob Scott, Simon Shimbles, Keith Wright and Martin Fredrickson

Original list approved September 1993, additional leaders added: March 1994, July 1994, January 1995

Rules for Ivy Cottage


Members [[sterling]]1.00 per night. Probationary members and guests [[sterling]]2.00 per night. Day charge for anyone using facilities but not staying overnight [[sterling]]0.50 per day. Fees are to be paid either to the Cottage Warden or placed in an envelope in the box in the living room.


Members are restricted to one guest per member. Other persons - only by prior arrangement with the Cottage Warden, subject to approval by the Committee. Members bringing guests must be fully responsible for booking them in and payment of fees. Members must sign the housebook ON ARRIVAL giving their name, date of arrival and bunk number.

In the interests of safety drinking glasses are only permitted on the ground floor. In the interests of safety smoking is not permitted in the dormitories. Cigarette ends, ash and spent matches should be placed in the receptacles provided and not on the floor.

People staying at the Cottage are responsible for keeping it clean and tidy at all times, all pans and crockery must be cleaned immediately after use and not left in the dining or living rooms. The last people to leave must ensure that all perishable foodstuffs and contents of rubbish bins are put into plastic rubbish bags and placed in the dustbin compound, that the gas is turned off at the bottles outside and that, in winter, the water is turned off, the system drained down, and the anti-frost heaters are turned on.


Obtainable from the Cottage Warden on payment of a deposit. Members are not allowed to have keys cut for their own purpose. Keys must not be lent to non-members except by the Cottage Warden.

Rules for Riverside Cottage


Members [[sterling]]2.00 per day. Probationary members and guests [[sterling]]4.00 per day. Children under 16 free. Minimum fee [[sterling]]6.00 per day. Fees are either to be paid to the Cottage Warden in full within 10 days of making a booking. The member making a booking is fully responsible for payment of all fees. Any cancelled booking will have to be paid for, unless they can be re-let, or there are extenuating circumstances.


Members. Members with partners and/or families. Members with guests. Other persons - only by prior arrangement with the Cottage Warden. The maximum number of persons sleeping in the Cottage is to be ten.

Photo of cottage omitted from electronic version of Handbook


Members must book via the Cottage Warden. Bookings can be made up to six months in advance, one month for non-members. The diary for bookings will run as follows:

A maximum number of two bookings may be held by a member at any one time. Hand-over time is 6pm.

People staying at the Cottage are responsible for keeping it clean and tidy at all times. The shower in the outhouse is the only one to be used in caving gear. On leaving ensure that all perishable foodstuffs and contents of rubbish bins are placed in dustbin liners and removed to the dustbin compound, that the refrigerator is turned off and the door left open, that the water is turned off both under the kitchen sink and in the gas store and the systems are drained down. Ensure that the fire is cleaned out. Leave the cottage as clean and tidy as you would wish to find it on arrival. Any breakages or damage should be notified to the Cottage Warden as soon as possible, or rectified.


Obtainable from the Cottage Warden. Keys are to be returned to the Cottage Warden promptly so that the next users are able to have a key. Members are not to have keys cut for their own purpose.

Rules/Notes Common to both Cottages

Personal Property:

Members and guests are expected to look after their own property. The Club cannot accept responsibility for items which go missing as it is impossible to insure against theft from the Cottage. Caving gear must NOT be taken into the cottage. The outhouse may be used for storage of gear provided that they are kept in an orderly manner. Motor-cycles may not be garaged in the outhouses.

Any member damaging or defacing Club property will be liable to expulsion from the Club. All Cottage repairs and renovations should only be made after approval by the Cottage Sub-Committee. All Residents must be quiet outside the premises after midnight. Any excessive noise at the Cottage will render those responsible liable for expulsion from the Club. Complaints about the Cottages should be made to the Cottage Warden in the first instance. The Cottage Warden has the full support of the Committee for decisions or regulations which may have to be made regarding the Cottages.

The present Cottage Warden is:

Steve Pickersgill,
37, Sandown Close,
N. Yorks.
Tel: 01845-597300

Annual Photographic Competition

The primary aim of the Annual Photographic Competition is to encourage Members to build up a photographic record of the activities of the Club. The secondary aim is to ensure that in future years the Club will be able to mount a high quality display when necessary. It is hoped that that the Club will be allowed to retain copies of winning entries for the Club records but this is not a condition of entry.

President's Trophy

For the best underground black and white print

Climber's Trophy

For the best above ground black and white print

Men of Kent Trophy

For the best underground colour slide

Down Valley Trophy

For the best above ground colour slide

Philip Tyas Trophy

For the best colour print, above ground or underground

The JR Nield Cup

Awarded to a member submitting the best underground black and white print who has not previously won any of the above.

The Spirit of Gaping Gill Trophy

For the photograph, print or slide, above ground or underground, which best depicts the spirit of the current year's Gaping Gill meet.

Conditions of entry

  1. Exhibits must have been taken by the Exhibitor, in the 18 months prior to the Annual Dinner, whilst a Member of the Craven Pothole Club and they should reflect the aims and objectives of the Club.

  2. There is no entrance fee. Entry of exhibits will be taken as a declaration that it is eligible under the rules. The Judges' decision is final.

  3. Each print must be titled and signed, lightly in pencil, on the back.

  4. All entries must be clearly marked to indicate the class for which they are entered; entries for the Novice Cup should be marked 'N'.

  5. Size of prints must be at least 6 x 8 inches, no more than six entries in any class, slide or print.

  6. No restrictions as regards paper used for prints; must be unmounted but may have a backing; in case of a tie - own enlarging gains consideration.

  7. A trophy will be awarded in each class provided that there is at least one entry in that class.

  8. All prints, colour or black and white, may with the permission of the Member be claimed as property of the Club, for record purposes.

  9. All trophies are to be held for one year only and must be returned to the Secretary in time for the next competition. Members are encouraged to have trophies inscribed and the Club will reimburse the cost if so desired.

  10. All entries to be judged jointly by the President, the Senior Vice-President and the Junior Vice-President or their nominees. Entries to be in the hands of the President at least 21 days before the Annual General Meeting: judging will take place as soon as possible after that time. Entries will be displayed at the Annual Dinner.

Annual Literary Awards

The Albert Mitchell Trophy

The Albert Mitchell Trophy and a cash prize of [[sterling]]20 will be awarded specifically for a major contribution concerning new cave exploration in the Yorkshire Dales. It will only be awarded if an article of sufficient merit is put forward.

Tom Pettit Cup

The Tom Pettit Cup and a Cash Prize of [[sterling]]20 will be awarded for the best item in the Club publications (excluding photographs) not winning either other category. The award will normally be presented annually at the Annual Dinner of the Club. A second cash prize may be awarded for the runner-up.

Meets Report Prize

For the best contribution to Meet Reports in the current year's publications. The award is donated and judged anonymously.

The judges for the Albert Mitchell trophy and the Tom Pettit Cup will be the retiring President and his two Vice-Presidents or their nominees. Entries in all categories will be based on all publications appearing since the last occasion of judging.

Amended Rules: adopted by the Committee 10th April 1992. The photographic competition rules are under review and are likely to be changed before the 1995 competition.

Leaders' Responsibilities

These notes were compiled and approved by the Committee of the Craven Pothole Club for the attention of all leaders of club and underground meets involving CPC members and tackle. They have been sent to all members from time to time and on this occasion they are again intended for guidance but will be revised if necessary in the light of current practices. The attention of all leaders is also drawn to the relevant Club Rules.

  1. Tackle

    The Leader is responsible for seeing that sufficient tackle to complete the system or intended route is taken underground, including specialist equipment such as bolts, hangers, etc., lifelines for every pitch of sufficient length to allow a belay for the lifeline man and, where necessary, a double lifeline; two whistles must be taken on every meet. Only "approved" tackle must be used and this must be returned in a clean and neat condition. Undue strain or breakages must be reported immediately to the tacklekeeper.

  2. Party

    The Leader should personally ascertain the fitness and experience of every member of the party and ensure that their activities do not exceed their capabilities. This particularly refers to a) non-members b) novice members and c) older members. Leaders must delegate responsibility to competent members of the Club in those groups not accompanied by the Leader. This particularly refers to a), b), and c) above and also to the tackling and detackling parties.

  3. Weather

    Wherever possible the Leader should have heard the latest regional weather report or have obtained local weather reports such as those provided by the National Parks Service. Where there is any possibility of heavy rain or rapid thaw causing flash floods it is the responsibility of the Leader to postpone or cancel the meet; or to divert the meet to a cave which will be safe under the likely conditions.

  4. System

    Leaders must acquaint themselves with as much data as possible about the system including an accurate assessment of tackle required, hydrological details of the system itself and the catchment area (drainage channels etc.), likely accident spots such as exposed traverses, loose boulders etc., and details of route-finding including a knowledge of the survey and contact with previous parties.

  5. Accidents

    If an accident occurs the Leader or competent member present (see Paragraph B above) should:

    1. Remove the patient from danger (water, pitch, boulder fall etc.) if this can be achieved without unacceptable risk.

    2. Make sure the patient is breathing. If not apply mouth to mouth respiration after having made sure the airway is clear. (Respiration rate 12 - 15 times per minute). This should be continued until the patient is breathing normally, without assistance. (There have been cases of recovery after long sessions of artificial respiration and the first aider should never give up hope easily.)

    3. Stop serious bleeding by applying pad and improvised bandage on the wound itself. Do not apply a tourniquet. If the former is insufficient to stop bleeding apply a further pad and bandage on top of the first.

    4. Despatch at least two competent people, where possible, out of the cave to alert the appropriate rescue team. The latter should be given the fullest details of cave, location of accident in the cave, and nature of injuries. The informant should then stand by, either at the telephone or at the nearest point by road, as instructed by the rescue team.

    5. It is absolutely essential that all patients are treated for shock by keeping them as warm, dry, comfortable and as cheerful as possible. The patient should be constantly and convincingly reassured and should never be left alone. The nature of patients' injuries should never be discussed with them.

  6. Exposure and exhaustion

    Where the patient is capable of moving without assistance and is not constantly complaining of exhaustion he or she should be encouraged to carry on slowly moving out. Where there is a likelihood of exposure, i.e. the patient is constantly complaining of exhaustion, or needs great assistance to move, or is in a state of collapse, or appears incapable of rational thought, he or she should be kept as warm, dry, comfortable and cheerful as possible. There should be no stimulation of blood circulation, e.g. massage, and the call-out procedure outlined in Para. E should be adopted.

Notes 5 and 6 are merely an outline of first aid. All members should acquaint themselves with modern first aid techniques in detail.

Gaping Gill Winch Meet - Safety & Operational Policy Statement

The Policy

The policy with regard to the Winch Meet is to provide and maintain safe operating conditions, equipment, and systems of operation for all our members and to provide them with such information, training and supervision as they need for this purpose.

The Club also accepts responsibility for the safety of other people who may be affected by its activities.

The allocation of duties for the operation of the winch, and the meet generally, and the arrangements for the discharge of those duties particularly with regard to safety for the implementation of our policy are set out below.

The policy will be updated from time to time as changes occur and in any event, reviewed annually prior to the year's meet.


The Club is organised on democratic lines with a committee elected by the general membership from year to year who also appoint officers to carry out various activities. These include: President, Chairman, Secretary, Treasurer, Assistant and Membership Secretary, Tacklekeeper, Assistant Tacklekeeper, Cottage Warden, Editor, Librarian, and eight (8) ordinary committee members.

The day to day running of the Club is vested in the Committee who, amongst other things, arrange the caving and potholing meets including the Annual Gaping Gill Winch Meet.

The Meet Leader is appointed by the committee to be responsible for organising the meet and ensure its proper running. For this purpose the Meet Leader is vested with such powers and responsibilities as he or she sees fit to conduct the meet and in particular for any matters regarding the safe operation of the meet.

The need for such control is paramount and the winch will not operate unless a Meet Leader has been appointed to take responsibility for whatever period of time the winch is being operated.

There may be occasions when the Meet Leader is indisposed to fulfil these duties in which case a deputy must be appointed to take control. In the event that there is no-one available to take control then winching operations must be suspended until the situation can be resolved. One exception would be if there were a number of people underground to be brought to the surface when an experienced Driver must assume control until those people are safely above round and then winching operations should be suspended until the matter is resolved.


The meet equipment is transported to Gaping Gill using a tractor and trailer usually operated by the tenant farmer whose right of access onto the moor we utilise.

Agricultural plant and machinery pose particular dangers and members and their guests should recognise this by not coming into close proximity to the moving tractor and trailer and in particular by keeping well away from blind spots and narrow access areas, e.g. alongside walls, gateways etc., where there is a danger of being trapped or crushed.

In particular no-one should ride on the loaded trailer or its drawbar due to the dangers of overturning or slipping beneath the moving vehicle.

Before the loaded trailer is moved all members involved in loading should check and ensure that various loaded items are stable and well secured with either rope netting or rope lashings.

The loading and unloading of the trailer involves man-handling quite heavy dead-loads; all members should recognise this and utilise appropriate lifting techniques, i.e. bend at the knee, straight back, head up, arms straight, using the muscles of the legs and buttocks to do the lifting and not the back.

Anyone with a history of back problems should recognise the problems and refrain from engaging in lifting anything beyond their capabilities. This is particularly important when man-handling the heavy elements of the winch as a team is required who may suffer the consequences of one off the team members suffering a strain and suddenly letting the load pass onto those involved in the lift.

Recognise your limitations!

Gantry and Winch Installation

The installation of the gantry across the open shaft of Gaping Gill is potentially one of the most dangerous aspects of the meet and should only be attempted by a team under the direction and supervision of someone with previous experience and at all times under the overall control of the Meet Leader.

The first step is to establish a number of belays at the wooden stake on the moor above the hole and at the large boulders adjacent to the lip of the shaft. Those members engaged in the actual installation should wear appropriate safety harnesses (climbing type or the industrial safety type supplied by the Club) attached to suitable lengths of climbing rope, of dynamic shock absorbing qualities, belayed at the various points identified above. A set of ladders and lifelines should be to hand to facilitate the retrieval of anyone so unfortunate as to sustain a fall.

SRT rope should not be used for this situation as in the likelihood of a fall the shock absorbing properties of the rope would be such as to cause severe injuries to the victim and in extreme situations may result in the rope breaking.

Two people are normally required to manoeuvre the gantry base into position on the lip of the shaft whilst others are positioned at safe points to assist in the lifting. These would include a team of three on the moor top and four to six people on the rock platform by the winch site.

The scaffold gantry base is normally left intact between meets and the aim is to manoeuvre it over the shaft. This is done by attaching a hauling rope to one end of the gantry base, the team on the moor top taking the weight and belayed members manoeuvring it into position.

Once in position appropriate rock anchors should be connected to the gantry to stabilise it. These can be found by reference to photographs of previous installations which identify the key anchors. The photographs will be found in the tool locker.

Having stabilised the gantry base the belayed members should commence installing scaffolding tubes to build up the complete gantry starting with the fitting of various legs and uprights to further stabilise the base and to develop the basic integrity of the structure.

Until the gantry is complete with guard rails, boards, toe boards and trapdoor, those erecting the structure should at all times remain belayed.

The Meet Leader should satisfy himself, in consultation with other experienced members, that the structure is stable and safe and follows the design incorporated in the various photographs taken of previous gantries and depicted in the design drawings.

Dismantling of the gantry is essentially the reverse of its installation and should only be undertaken under the direction and supervision of an experienced member using appropriate safeguards identified above.

One pre-requisite for the erection and dismantling is not to drop anything down the shaft as it has been known from past experience that people do gain access to the system despite the Club having control of access to all of the system entrances. Security cords or string should be attached to all tools in use on the gantry and they should be used to secure tools to the user whenever they are in use.

Installation of the winch (which includes the engine) poses no undue hazards other than the usual ones of lifting and manoeuvring a substantial deadweight into position. It is essential that once installed and built key fastenings are checked to ensure their integrity. These include the tightness of the bearing bolts holding the winding drum shaft bearings to the frame, and the rock anchors holding the winch frame to the rock bed. The rock anchors should be installed through the timber side plates including the steel staves to ensure a safe secure fixture to the rock bed.

Once the winch has been built it should not be operated under power without the appropriate guards in place especially those shielding the gears on the winding drums.

On completion of erection of the gantry and installation of the winch it will be necessary to install the guide wire and hauling cables. Gaping Gill shaft is not plumb vertical for winding purposes so a guide wire has to be fixed between a Turfer anchored on the moor top via the gantry and chair and then to an anchor in the floor of the Main Chamber.

The guidewire is stored rolled on a light weight timber drum and should be carefully unwound on the moor top adjacent to the belay stakes. The loose end should be fed down onto the gantry, through the location devices on the top of the A-frame and through the guide pulley on the winch chair. The remaining cable should be fed down the shaft carefully to avoid snagging. On reaching the shackle and hook end these should be fastened to the Turfer to allow adjustments. The Turfer should be fastened to the belay stakes with suitable lashings.

Ideally a team of members should then descend into the Main Chamber via an alternative entrance, eg Bar Pot, to locate and fix the loose guide wire end with an experienced member in the group to ensure its correct location and fastening.

In certain circumstances it may be more expedient to lower someone down the shaft in the chair without the benefit of the guide wire. Only an experienced member should perform this particular task and only if two-way radio communication is available, to ensure that any difficulties in the descent are known and can be acted upon. Only a member with considerable driving and general experience of winch duties should perform the driving task. This whole operation should be undertaken under the immediate direction and supervision of the Meet Leader.

On completion of fastening the guide wire a general check of winch, gantry and chair should be made to ensure that everything is fastened securely and safely including, in particular, the fastening of the chair to the hauling ropes.

Once everything has been checked a number of trial runs should be made initially with an empty chair to ensure everything runs properly and to check that there is adequate clearance particularly where the chair passes close to the rock wall near the top of the shaft and through the trapdoor.

On being satisfied that everything is in order a deadweight, eg drum of water, should be fastened to the chair for further trials simulating the effects of lifting/lowering a person under normal operating conditions. Any adjustments to the hang of the chair should be made at this stage.

Once the test runs have been conducted to the satisfaction of the Meet Leader a number of trial runs should be repeated using a volunteer, experienced, "live" load. Communications should be available to ascertain problem areas in the lift/lower in anticipation of any difficulties occurring.

On satisfactory completion of the test runs the winch should then, and only then, be made available for general duties.

During this test period the Meet Leader, preferably with other experienced previous Meet Leaders, should be in attendance to supervise and direct operations to his or her satisfaction.

The installation and running of the winch is a team effort and requires everyone involved to co-operate with one another and above all, ensure not only their own safety but also that of their fellow members.

Winching Operations

Descents into Gaping Gill using the winch are made available not only to members and their guests but also to the general public to whom we owe a responsible duty of care for their safety and well-being. To this extent the operation of the winch must always take place with this duty of care in mind to ensure everyone's safety.

The winch is operated by a team of seven (7)(plus a variable number of guides in the Main Chamber) which are:

The duties of the winch crew members are described in the following pages.

The Meet Leader

The Meet Leader has overall responsibility for the meet, making such decisions as he or she sees fit for the day to day running of the meet. In particular he or she has responsibility for:

  1. organising manpower for all winch crew duties including the drafting of a work roster for each day
  2. ensuring that the mechanical parts of the winch are in good order with daily and other regular checks of fuel and oil levels, check of moving and non-moving parts of the winch and gantry for security, tightness of nuts and bolts, and general safety
  3. dealing with other clubs/cavers wishing to use other entrances to the system to ensure they are competent
    1. to tackle those entrances or use CPC tackle
    2. have sufficient knowledge, experience and equipment to undertake their trip
    3. decide on what fees are appropriate
  4. on busy days arranging for someone to be stationed at Bar Pot entrance to advise visitors and cavers to book in and out with the Chitman at Gaping Gill to avoid confusion
  5. deal with visitors on such matters as age limits for young people

The selection of Meet Leader is agreed by the Committee of the Club: he or she must be over the age of 21 years and be a fully paid up member of the Club. A high degree of commitment and motivation will be required of the person fulfilling the role. Because of the responsibility placed upon the position the Meet Leader should always arrange for a responsible member to deputize in his or her absence.

The responsibilities of the post are such that the Committee vests its power and decision making roles in the Meet Leader to conduct the meet in such a responsible manner as he or she sees fit, particularly where safety is concerned. On most issues he or she will wish to consult with other members but everyone in camp at Gaping Gill or attending the meet at any time must be prepared to accept the Meet Leader's decision.


In many respects the Driver of the winch is second only to the Meet Leader in terms of responsibility for winching operations as he or she has effective control. The Driver's duty is to operate the winch in a safe and efficient manner. He or she requires a high degree of concentration to keep a careful watch on the winding drum and hauling ropes, gantry trapdoor and Gantryman in case of emergency signals.

To this extent the Driver's judgement must not be impaired through the consumption of alcohol, medication or illness and in the event of being affected in such a manner must refrain from driving.

The Driver observes the proper management of access to the gantry ensuring that the line of sight to the trapdoor and chair is not obscured, that the trapdoor is opened and closed in the correct sequence, and that the person descending is properly seated and helmeted. The Driver must refuse to operate the winch for a descent if he or she is not satisfied with the situation.

The Driver must keep a watchful eye on the operation of the winch; rope wrapping correctly, gauges giving correct information, position of depth markers. In practice he or she is aware of everything going on in front of him or her. This high degree of concentration is tiring and can lead to loss of concentration to the extent that a Driver should only drive the winch for short periods of time, usually one hour continuously, with a substantial break before repeating the task.

The signalling system to operate the winch involves three people: the Driver, the Gantryman and the Whistleman. In the normal course of events the Driver wears a set of headphones linked by landline to a signalling system, a push-button and buzzer, in the main Chamber controlled by the Whistleman. To engage an ascent, all things being satisfactory, the Whistleman presses the push-button device twice to initiate a buzzing sound in the Driver's earphones.

This signalling system operates on the basis of:

One buzz to stop the winch
Two buzzes for ascent
Three buzzes for descent

In such a way the Whistleman can control the movement of the chair up and down the shaft from the bottom.

In the event of the electrical signalling system becoming inoperative the Whistleman can fall back on the use of a whistle for such signals (hence his title). Conversely, to make a descent from the surface the Gantryman, on being satisfied everything is in order, makes an overt sweeping downward motion of his arm to indicate to the Driver that a descent can be made. In this way the Driver understands what is required of him.

The Driver must be a fully paid up member of the Club, over 18 years of age, and fully trained by other experienced drivers under the supervision of the Meet Leader. An operational Driver must be named on the current Driver's list held for engineering insurance purposes by the Meet Leader. No other person is allowed to operate the winch except for training purposes and then only with a dummy load.


The Gantryman is in a position of risk due to the presence of the opening through the gantry when the winch is operating. In recognising this danger, the person performing the duty must be safely and securely belayed to the gantry at all times.

The Gantryman must keep a watchful eye on everyone using the gantry to ensure their safe access and egress and be prepared to direct and control potential rushes of people seeking to view the shaft.

He or she should check everyone making a descent for proper equipment, eg safety helmet and clothing, and issue specific instructions regarding their behaviour in the chair, ie:

to sit well back in the chair
not to move about in the chair
not to look up
to keep feet well tucked in under the chair
to keep arms inside the framework of the chair
not to interfere with the closure gate in any circumstances
that a person at the bottom will let them out of the chair

The Gantryman is responsible for the correct and safe operation of the trapdoor. When the chair is stationary at the top of its travel, the trapdoor should be closed and effectively latched. When closing the trapdoor it should not be slammed shut as there may be a danger of it bouncing back open.

Only after the descending passenger is safely seated and the chair closure gate securely closed should the Gantryman open the trapdoor and give a clear signal to the Driver with a full downwards sweep of the arm for the descent to begin. The Gantryman should then observe the descent for the first fifty feet to ensure the safe passage of the chair.

In the event of any difficulties being observed or perceiving a whistle generated stop signal, the Gantryman should give an appropriate horizontal full sweep of both arms to the Driver to stop the descent or ascent.

On ascents, if the signalling from below is by whistle the Gantryman should listen carefully for the correct signal (One - Stop; Two - Up; Three - Down) and only when sure of the Up signal, give the Driver a signal to raise the chair by a full upward sweep of the arm. If there is any doubt the ascent signal should not be given to the Driver.

On ascents, if the signal from below is by buzzer direct to the Driver, the Gantryman only needs to observe the last 100 feet of ascent to ensure that the guidewire is correctly placed for a clear ascent through the trapdoor.

At busy times a second gantryman may be of assistance in manipulating the trapdoor and the closure gate on the chair whilst the first concentrates on getting the passenger in or out of the chair safely. Such a person (No 2) must be securely belayed prior to engaging in this activity.

The Gantryman must be over the age of 18 years and will expect a term of duty of one or two hours.


The Whistleman's duty is to ensure safe entry to and exit from the chair in the main Chamber.

He or she is stationed by the cable cairn in the Main Chamber and should remain there unless he has to visit telephone corner to contact the surface. Preferably he should get one of the guides to attend to that if at all possible.

He releases visitors from the chair on descent and signals for the empty chair to ascend when, and only when, the visitor is clear of the chair. He fastens them in on the ascent and when, and only when, they are safely seated, he sends the appropriate signal of two blasts on the whistle, or two distinct pushes of the buzzer button, to the surface (or to the Driver) for the ascent to begin.

Whilst the next to ascend waits for the chair to arrive the Whistleman instructs the visitor as to do's and don'ts on the journey up. He also ensures that tourists do not wander off alone when waiting for the guide!

The Whistleman should observe the ascent of the chair so far as is reasonably practicable and in the event of any difficulties being observed signal the Driver immediately to take remedial action; eg stop, descend, etc to retrieve the chair.

At busy times one or more assistant chair operators can be of great help in the safe improvement of turn round times. One holds the chair whilst passengers enter and exit, a second operates the gate, a third guides the passenger into or out of the chair. A fourth takes charge of signalling, but, as the greatest care is needed, only a fully experienced Whistleman should be allowed to perform this duty.

The Whistleman must be over the age of 18 and may expect a term of duty of one or two hours.


The Guide's duty is to help visitors to safely obtain the greatest benefit from their short stay underground. Visitors may be "tourists" or "cavers". In the normal course of events tourists are given a tour of the Main Chamber only. They should never be taken out of, or allowed to leave, the Main Chamber unless prior arrangements have been made for proper guidance. Cavers, of course, will have indicated their intentions when booking in.

Clearly the Guide has a responsibility to ensure that tourists do not go beyond their abilities, eg old people to the top of East Slope and he should contain parties to a size that can be easily handled, eg between 4 and 8 people.

A typical Main Chamber tour, usually by Tilley Lamp, is best started by taking the party to the bottom of East Slope, or a similar spot, away from the noise of falling water and talking about general statistics of the system and the Main Chamber (Hall of the Winds), Spout and Rat Hole Waterfalls, various digs, East Pot, East slope view of the Old Man and the Old Woman of Gaping Gill, South Passage, North Passage, etc. From there visits may be made depending on the abilities of the party, to North Passage, East Slope, South East Passage Entrance, and then along the back wall of the Chamber noting the Main Chamber Fault, the Water Sinks, the Porcellaneous Band, the Sand Bank, West Slope and other items of interest. A brief fact sheet for use by Guides is available from the Meet Leader and all Guides are advised to read this.

Visitor trips to other parts of the system such as Mud Hall, Sand Cavern, Stream Chamber and Bar Pot should only be undertaken after making arrangements for other guides to be present and not at all at peak periods. Such excursions are best arranged from the surface with specially delegated guides so as not to disrupt the duty roster.

In adverse weather conditions, eg high water levels, the Guide and the Whistleman have an obligation to look out for visitors, particularly old or young people, showing signs of suffering from cold and damp. There should be no hesitation in sending to the surface anyone who shows signs of distress.

At least one guide should be on duty whenever a tourist is in the Chamber and at busy times several guides are required. Any member or non-member may act as Guide but only after approval by the Meet Leader and will expect a term of duty of two hours.


The Chitman's duties are to receive visitors, check their eligibility, arrange for indemnity chits to be filled in, fees to be collected, number tags to be issued and helmets to be supplied. The Chitman enters the details of name, number in party, group or club membership and destination in the Descent Book and directs visitors to the gantry.

He or she particularly makes a note of people moving in parties which will usually have a leader or organiser and if some are under the age of 18 the party leader/organiser is usually authorised to sign.

Any request for a descent which is questionable is made at the discretion of the Meet leader - if there are doubts with nervous people or children for example, they are best advised not to make the descent. Children over 14 years of age should descend only with the written permission of parents or guardians. Children under the age of 14 should not normally be allowed to descend. To avoid confrontation children in camp should never be allowed to go down on the chair when tourists are in the vicinity.

The position requires a reasonable person to be in charge although an assistant is usually desirable except during quiet periods and the term of duty is normally two hours.


The Timesheetman is located on the gantry and notes times of descent and ascent on the time-sheets. He or she also notes where parties or oddities occur and at all times works in close co-operation with the Chitman and with the gantryman. At busy times a "runner" is required to carry messages between the Timesheetman and the Chitman.

At the end of the day the Descent book must balance, in terms of "all who went down must come out" and it is the combined duties of the Chitmen and the Timesheetmen which ensure this is so.

The same responsibilities are expected from the Timesheetman as are required for the Chitman and he or she will normally expect a term of duty of one or two hours.


Gaping Gill is an active stream sinkhole swallowing the whole of Fell Beck, an impressive and sobering sight in times of high flood. To mitigate against flooding, Fell Beck can be diverted down Rat Hole and also down the recently opened Mouse Hole by judicious rearrangement of boulders in the stream bed. This is backed up by the construction of a dam of corrugated steel sheets between Rat Hole entrance and the opposite bank. In the interests of conservation turf should not be cut from the banks of Fell Beck.

This arrangement will handle and divert a considerable flood of water. However it is not uncommon for a period of heavy rain coupled either with existing saturated ground or ground baked hard by a drought, to give rise to a flood sufficient to overwhelm the dam and flow down Gaping Gill Main Shaft. This presents certain problems, eg rocks being washed down the shaft, and whilst from experience it is known that the winch can operate in high water conditions it is not desirable and winching operations should be suspended.

During times of flood people in camp should be aware of the dangers of fast rising water and always ensure that children, whether members' or visitors', are never allowed to venture near the stream at such times.

At such times the Meet Leader will be aware of the dangers of lightening and related static on the metal structures of the gantry and winch in the vicinity of Gaping Gill and should suspend winching if it is thought desirable.

Future Meet Leaders should note that the dam has been overtopped from a low water level at the base of the dam within half an hour. Weather conditions should be considered and treated with utmost respect.

The back-up to retrieve people from the system when a flood suspends operations is via Bar Pot which must always be tackled for this very purpose. It will require a strong and well supported team to facilitate the removal of people from the system. The contingency should include the supply of food and hot drinks to those people and the provision of warm waterproof over clothing to offset the risks of hypothermia.

A responsible member should always take charge in such a situation (eg the Whistleman) and select those individuals for preferential treatment who show signs of succumbing to the cold and damp.

There is no known risk of flooding at Bar Pot so that people caught in this situation can be reassured as to their safety and well being. In such situations in the past everyone involved had thoroughly enjoyed themselves!

Fell Beck and its tributaries are used as a water supply for the people in camp. Members and guests should consider, having regard to its position, that it is unsuitable for human consumption in its raw state. All water should be boiled or treated with appropriate purifying agents. Having said this the stream should not be polluted by waste water, spent carbide or sanitary water. Chemical toilets and a refuse pit are provided for members in camp and they should be used.

Electrical apparatus

A portable generator capable of producing 240 volts AC or 110 volts AC is used during the meet for a number of purposes including lighting, battery charging and as a contingency power supply to drive an emergency hydraulic pump in the event that the main diesel engine fails.

Both 240 volt and 110 volt supplies are drawn from the generator and members and guests should have due regard and respect for this fact: even 110 volts can cause injury.

Work on the electrical supplies and apparatus should only be undertaken under the direction of the Meet Leader. Installation of and modification to the wiring should only be carried out by a competent person.

Standby electrically driven hydraulic pump

An electrically powered standby hydraulic pump is available in the event of failure of the winch engine or hydraulic pump. This can be connected into the hydraulic hoses at the winch engine unit in a manner which by-passes the main hydraulic pump.

Powered by the portable electrical generator the standby motor/pump will raise a loaded chair in approximately three minutes and it will lower such a chair in approximately two minutes.

The main aim is to retrieve someone stuck in mid-ascent or mid-descent. It will function continuously to retrieve people from the Main Chamber at a reduced rate, probably no more than twelve people an hour. In such circumstances it may be advisable to initiate the contingency plan for the removal of fit and able people from the Main Chamber by way of Bar Pot.

The Ultimate Standby

In the event of a total loss of power to the winch the hauling drum can be disconnected from the hydraulic drive and the winch operated manually using two winding handles. This is extremely tiring and should only be considered as a last resort to retrieve someone from mid-shaft.

The winch in this mode operates with a rachet system to safeguard the ascent and a manual band-brake to control descents. It may be easier to lower someone from mid-shaft to the floor of the Main Chamber rather than rely on hand winching to the surface.

First aid

First aid materials will be available during the course of the meet under the control of the Meet leader who will dispense requisite items as and when required. Members and their guests should bear in mind the relative remoteness of Gaping Gill from emergency services and essentially take care and think twice in situations where they may be at risk of injury. This goes without saying: when underground everyone has a duty of care to themselves and to their colleagues.

The first aid equipment will be split into two lots - one for general use on the surface, and one as an emergency pack kept solely for use in situations underground: it would be pointless breaking into the underground pack for general use only to find it depleted in the event of an underground accident.

A "drag stretcher" and splints are available to facilitate the evacuation of a person suffering an accident underground. Meet Leaders may wish to bear in mind that, generally, there is a reasonable "labour force" in camp to initiate a rescue prior to calling out the Cave Rescue Organisation (CRO). All things will have to be considered however; severity of injury, position in the system, etc. Generally speaking it will be beneficial to get the victim moving out especially from a wet situation rather than to wait for the CRO as a long lag-time will occur in response to a call for assistance from those in camp.


The mechanical equipment comprising the winch and its associated components eg chair, hauling ropes, etc is covered by an engineering insurance policy through Malcolm Insurance Brokers of Leeds. An essential element of the policy is a thorough examination of the equipment by one of their engineering inspectors when the winch is in working order usually prior to the meet commencing. This will involve making an arrangement with the engineer for an appropriate date and time for inspection.

(First edition as issued in August 1991)

Drop Test Rig

Operating & Safety Procedure

  1. Preferably find someone who has used it before
  2. Put "Drop Test in use" sign on Tackle Room and GG Store Doors
  3. Tie knots in each end of the rope so that it measures 1 metre between the knots
  4. Remove cover on gravel pit
  5. Open trap door
  6. Place ACRO props in position - do not try to jack up the roof
  7. Haul up the weight using block and tackle after making sure that no one can walk underneath
  8. Attach weight to release handle by inserting maillon fastened to sling in the bottom of the hook on the handle
  9. Insert safety pin through hole in handle. The weight cannot now be released until the pin is removed
  10. Attach test rope to belay chain
  11. Detach lifting pulley
  12. After again making sure that the weight is not going to drop on someone's head, remove the safety pin and pull release handle to drop the weight
  13. If sample rope does not break, try again
  14. Fill in results on test reports in SRT store.
  15. When finished; ensure weight is safe on the ground, cover gravel pit, remove signs from doors, close trap, take down ACRO props
Dave Hoggarth
SRT Tacklemaster
February 1995

Diagram of drop test rig omitted from electronic version of the Handbook

A Guide to the construction of ladders & belays


In this paper we will consider only ladders and belays of the type and construction normally used within the Craven Pothole Club. We will look at the materials used, the manner in which they are put together and the care and maintenance of such ladders and belays. All dimensions are based on the imperial standard with metric equivalents adjacent, where appropriate. The terms 'steel rope' and 'wire' are interchangeable as appropriate. For further information the reader is referred to the literature listed at the end.


The first flexible ladders used in caving were ships' rope ladders followed by a variety of 'home-made' designs. The Club experimented with several but it was Edgar Smith who decided that a better and more easily built rope ladder was required because, at that time:

"The work in making the ladder was hard on the hands and blisters were common. It was easy to tell at a glance who were engaged in tackle-making for wearing of bandages or adhesive plaster was the unmistakable insignia of their craft".

At the end of the war years he produced the standard CPC rope ladder with a pegged wooden rung which was greatly admired by all (Fig.lA). The design was used right up to 1972, although in the later years only at Bar Pot during GG meets. The last of these, which incorporated courlene rope for the sides, were sold off in a hilarious 'Dutch Auction' at the Annual Dinner in 1972.

The first flexible metal ladders were the brain-child of Robert de Joly, the French 'speleologue', in 1930 and their introduction is graphically described by Norbert Casteret in his writings of the period.

It was not until about 1949 that Norman Brindle designed and built a similar ladder for use in the northern caving area. At the time it was said, by Dennis Brindle, that

"There is no doubt that this type of ladder has its use, but their real purpose must be for the smaller pitches at the end of a long, difficult passage".

The Club acquired a number of metal ladders (known as 'Electron ladders') in 1950 and first used them on a Rift Pot meet in that year.

Again various methods of construction were experimented with leading to Dennis Brindle's design based on Edgar Smith's pin method whereby, after the insertion of a dural plug into the end of the rung, the wire passed through rung and plug and was secured by a steel pin passing through rung, plug and wire (Fig.lB). Thus the stresses on the rung were spread over an area equal to the upper surface area of the plug.

By 1958 Dennis was able to say:

"The light weight metal ladder has made the caver's life much easier. In fact for the long and difficult pots and distant digs the metal ladder may be said to have ousted the heavy wooden rung type. Perhaps, in time, we will have nothing but metal ladders - did I hear someone say "Heaven help us?"

This was the standard until about 1966 when John Batty experimented, unsuccessfully, with fibreglass resin for fixing the rungs onto the wires. In 1967, on advice from the Hyperion Club, the writer tried a specified Araldite and carborundum powder mix which was found to be suitable and this became the standard prevailing to the present time although the carborundum powder filler is omitted now (Fig.lC).


The caving ladder is made up of tubular aluminium alloy rungs fixed at the ends to a pair of flexible steel ropes (wires). The rope 'tails' are fitted with a device, most commonly the 'C-link', which can be used for either fixing ladders together to make long lengths or for securing a ladder to a 'belay' - a separate device which can easily be secured to the rock at the top of a pitch. In the following discussion it is assumed that the reader is familiar with the basic structure of a wire ladder.


CPC ladders have traditionally been made in one standard length of 25 feet (7.62m), with a rung spacing of 10 inches (254mm) to give 30 rungs per ladder, and a rung width between the wires (boot space) of a minimum of 5.5 inches (c 140mm).

The wire ends - tails - are of such a length that when two ladders are joined together the rung spacing over the join is the same as the standard rung spacing (Fig.lD). The tails have a pressure bonded ferrule (Talurit) securing each wire end which is looped round a thimble into which is fitted a C-link ('monkey-puzzle') (Figs.lE & F). The tails are the most vulnerable part of the ladder but when they become unserviceable they can be cut off along with the end rung and a new termination made. This leaves the ladder a little shorter and there are various ways of identifying such short ladders.

Building the ladder:

The basic steps are given below followed by a detailed examination of the various elements of the ladder:

  1. Prepare rungs and wire

  2. assemble the rungs on the wire

  3. pin the rungs to the wire at the correct spacing, leaving adequate wire at each end for the tails

  4. introduce the resin into the ends of the rungs one side at a time, and 'cure' it if necessary

  5. provide eye terminations at tails

  6. provide identification tags

  7. 'finish' the rung ends by filing or grinding to remove surplus resin and rough edges

  8. carry out proof tests on sample rungs and on all tails

Safety precautions

Always wear strong gloves and eye protection for cutting and drilling work. When handling resins it is recommended that the operator avoid direct contact with the uncured products by wearing gloves, overalls and eye protection. The Trylon safety leaflets with other specifications should be consulted before using resins.

Figure 1 of ladder making


Required properties for alloy tubing for rungs:

  1. strong enough to carry the weight of the heaviest caver who may at times considerably increase the force on a rung by pushing up through a tight squeeze e.g. climbing out of Bar Pot entrance pitch

  2. thick enough to be comfortable to climb; thin rungs can be used but tend to be hard on the hands, especially on longer pitches

  3. adequate wall strength so that it does not dent easily; any dent will inevitably reduce the strength of tube

  4. hard enough not to wear too easily on passage through a cave, ie to give a reasonably long life, up to ten years or more provided it is not damaged in any other way

  5. corrosion resistant in caving conditions

  6. not unduly heavy

  7. material suitable for working using simple workshop practice.

see 'Further reading' for more information


See specifications. Approximately 5m required per ladder.


Alloy tubing for rungs has traditionally been bought in long lengths and cut into suitable lengths, so, having specified the tube, the next thing is to establish precisely what the rung length is to be.

An optimum rung length is a compromise which will accommodate the largest size boots and yet have the smallest ladder width because, generally speaking, a narrow ladder is easier to climb than a wide one especially for people with shorter arms. The overhang of the rung outside the wires needs to be minimal for the same reason and yet allow for a considerable amount of wear of the rung end if the ladder is to have a long service life.

The average caving boot has a maximum width of about 4.0 - 5.0" so it is proposed here that all new ladders have a between-wires rung space of 5.5": it is further proposed that a suitable compromise for the overhang be 0.25". Thus the total rung length needs to be 5.5" + 2 x 0.25" + 2 x 4.2mm (wires). This gives a rung length of 6.33" (161mm) which can be rounded to 6 3/8" (162mm) (Fig.lG).

At one time it was found that ladders were being scrapped with rungs that were reusable and therefore rungs were made about a 1/2 inch longer initially. As a ladder came to be scrapped the rungs were just sawn off adjacent to the wire, trimmed and reused. However this idea did not seem to last for very long.


It is possible, and desirable, to buy the rung tubing ready cut to rung length at relatively little extra cost something in the order of around 20%. However one must be sure that the supplier is going to cut the rungs quite precisely. We are not in that fortunate position so we cut them ourselves.

We have seen many occasions when rungs have been cut by hand by marking the rung length from a spare rung. After cutting a few lengths, one of the newly cut rungs is used as a template... and then another. A consequence of this will be found in the present stock of rungs which vary in length by as much as a 1/4", thus some diligence is required to avoid extra work and wastage.

Second diagram of ladder making

Once one has determined the length, how to mark it on the rung, and how to align the cutter on the cutting mark a small plumber's pipe cutter is quite adequate for cutting rungs off, it does take some care. The use of a pipe cutter does enable one to hold the tube in the hands rather than in a vice. After cutting there is no need to trim the ends as that will be done at the end of the ladder making process.

An alternative, simple, way to cut rungs off is with a hacksaw, securing the tube in a simple jig with saw guides. A few blocks of hard wood and some screws will do the trick (Fig.2). When cutting, care should be taken not to distort the rung otherwise there will be problems when offering it up to the drilling jig which will necessarily be a good fit for the rung. Since this was written the CPC have acquired a purpose built jig which allows cutting and drilling in the same operation.


There are several ways of drilling the rung, which should always be done in a purpose made jig with hardened steel drill guides of the correct size. The essential point is for the two holes for the wires to be aligned in the vertical plane to the best attainable tolerance. Failure to do so will result in the wires pulling out of the vertical line when the ladder is hanging, and thus adding unnecessary stresses.

A competent engineer will easily find a way to drill rungs accurately but the following are some possibilities:

  1. in a jig which takes the whole rung and has two fixed drill guides; thus the wire spacing across the rung will always be the same (Fig.3A).

  2. in a simpler form of jig where one end of the rung is inserted up to a stop with a drill guide set at a specified distance from the stop; after drilling the rung is removed, turned round and the other end drilled (Fig.3B). The wire spacing is thus entirely dependent on the rung being the correct length. Additionally, to ensure the correct vertical orientation of the drill holes a vertical alignment guide has to be built in to the jig. This may be in the form of spare drill bit placed in the first hole and lined up by passing into a further hole in the base of the jig.

  3. the ideal is a hinged split block - the 'rat-trap' which allows for the speedy production of a large number of rungs, but it does require the services of an engineering workshop to make one up.

A great deal of care is needed in setting up and there are problems with drilling aluminium as it tends to 'clog' the bit although it does drill quite easily provided one has a good quality drill bit in good sharp condition.

As we anticipate drilling a lot of holes - 60 for each ladder - we need a small electric drill in a solid stand squarely set over the drilling jig. Capacity for the swarf removal should be built into the jig. There should be space for the burr at the bottom side of the lower hole so that the rung can easily be withdrawn from the jig. Needless to say the jig should be made to the highest possible specification to avoid unevenly drilled rungs.

Using wire nominally designated as 4mm we find that the average of several measurements give it a mean diameter of 4.19mm. The ideal drill bit is 4.2mm so that the wire will be a tight fit in the holes and, when being fed with resin, there will be little or no escape of resin round the wire. However, we have to remember that the wire ends must be treated in some way, by soldering or brazing and then filing or grinding down, so that they will pass through the hole in the rung as the raw cut ends most certainly will not.

A well prepared wire end will pass through a 4.2mm hole but it may be necessary to use a slightly larger bit - 4.3mm. Thus all this has to be decided so that the jig can be designed correctly for the job.

One useful way around this is to fit a 4.2mm drill guide on the jig and then after removal of the rung from the jig the holes can quite easily be enlarged by hand, through an already correctly drilled hole with a 4.3mm bit. It is worth going to all this trouble to avoid waste of resin. However a little flexibility does not come amiss at the ladder assembly stage.

The holes should be dressed by removing the burr on the underside of the lower hole, usually by turning off by hand with a larger drill bit (3/8 - 1/2 inch) or by use of a deburring bit. Burrs inside the rung should be trimmed off with a thin scraper as they can cause problems when trying to insert the bung.


The purpose of the bung inside the rung is to make the end of the rung into a miniature reservoir for when resin is added after pinning.


The bung must be resin proof, ie it must act as a sure barrier to the resin otherwise one is likely to end up filled the whole rung with resin. It must not be reactive with resin although this is an uncommon problem, but some resins may dissolve materials such as polystyrene. The traditional material used was medicine corks purchased from the local chemists but they are quite difficult to obtain nowadays, and at around 10p each rather costly, although in many respects cork is the ideal material.

The most commonly used material now is 'karrimat' closed cell foam sheet of about 1/2 inch (12- 13 mm) thickness. Round plugs cut from the sheet using a sharp hole punch on a block of hardwood need to be a little larger than the rung inside diameter so that they compress to form a good seal for resin.

They should be inserted into the rung to just the right depth - about 1/4 inch (6.4mm) further in than the wire, so that there is adequate resin in situ to secure the wire, and not so much as to be wasteful and, incidentally, add to the weight of the ladder.

A simple mandrel of solid bar with a flange set to the correct depth for the bung is of assistance here (Fig.lH). It can be machined of steel but plastic or wood will do just as well.

One particular danger to watch out for is the bung 'cockling over' as it is inserted due to catching on the drilling burr inside the rung. A check should be made before starting to thread the wires.


The main purpose of the pin is to hold the rung in the correct position on the wire during assembly but the pin also has the function of opening out the wire so that the resin can flow into the lay.


A great variety of materials have been used from textile comb pins to roofing nails. 1/2" x 7/32" (or 1/8") cobblers' nails are suitable as they have a good sharp point but they are not always easy to acquire. They generally have a smooth finish which allows them to pass through the wire easily without damaging the strands, which cannot be said of roofing nails. There is little point in using galvanised pins as the pins are well protected from corrosive elements by being fully immersed in resin. Choice of a pin of suitable length avoids the tedious task of having to cut the pins to size.


To avoid damage to the wire it is essential that the wire be opened out a little before the pin is inserted through the open end of the rung. Thus the wire must not be under tension. Forceful insertion, eg use of a hammer, can be very damaging and will almost certainly cut through one or more stands. A small bradawl with a smooth taper is adequate for this job if it is passed through the wire just before the pin is inserted. Hold the head of the pin with a pair of strong pliers and just push it through the wire until, if it is of the correct length, the head is well inside the rung and the point is well through the wire, but not pushing the bung further into the rung (see sketch).


The specified 4mm (nominal) wire (steel rope) has a breaking strength far in excess of any likely to be experienced in caving and when new this is in excess of one ton; and, of course, there are two wires per ladder. It is extremely durable and the advantage of using a wire of higher specification is that it will last for many years of regular use provided that it is not ill-treated.

Material - see specifications

Cutting and end-forming

This section considers cutting wire lengths and preparing the ends for threading through the rungs.

This can be done by use of a proprietary wire cutter, which the Club does possess. Cut wire ends should always be well taped to avoid any risk of eye injury.

The length to be cut - 55 feet (16.7m) - is sufficient to service a complete ladder i.e. to thread up one side of the rungs and down the other; in this manner it is only necessary to prepare one end for threading for each ladder. The traditional way of preparing the end for easy threading is to braze or hard solder the end for about two inches or so and then to grind the hardened end to a long taper on a grindstone. Hard solder is very expensive now and not every one has access to brazing equipment. An alternative is to soft solder the end after thinning it down by removing the centre strand for about 2 inches but this is not always too successful.

Assembling the ladder

After threading the 30 rungs onto the wire, leaving a loop of about 2 feet (60cm) at one end and thus leaving a similar length for the tails at the other end, enough for fitting eye splices, space the rungs out roughly to the 10 inch spacing.

The ladder is now ready for pinning and this is best done on a short ladder jig which will take about 3 or 4 rungs for convenience. Check the tail lengths again and then offer the first few rungs up to the jig and pull the wires straight, but not tight. Start at the loop of the wire and pin each side of the first rung as discussed above. By using a short jig it will be found to be relatively easy to manipulate it on a bench although if the jig is fixed to a bench there will less chance of injury if the tools slip. It has been traditional to turn the ladder over every other rung because if there is the slightest distortion in the jig, ie in rung spacing at each side, etc., then the ladder will hang in either a disconcerting curve or a nausea-inducing spiral.

Check the 'lay' of the ladder after a few rungs, by laying it out on the floor: it should lie flat and straight and a measurement over ten rungs, centre to centre, should give 90 inches (2.29m).


There are a vast variety of resins but many are unsuitable due to being too brittle, too soft, too hard, too quick, to slow, hygroscopic, etc. and great care must be taken if unspecified resins are used. Most resins have a specified shelf life, and the manufacturer's specific directions for storage, mixing and curing must be most carefully followed. A mixture should be discarded at the first indication of it 'going off', becoming 'sluggish', not pouring well, or not running quickly and smoothly into the rung cavity and into the lay of the wire.


Resin should used only in a controlled climate, a cold damp tackleroom is quite the wrong place to be 'Aralditing' ladders. Normal room temperature is satisfactory as elevated temperatures can result in the mixture 'going off' too quickly, ie starting to set in a very short time. Good air circulation is essential as most resins give off harmful fumes and a face mask is recommended particularly if working in an enclosed space. It is a good idea to do a test sample, before approaching the ladder with a large quantity of mixture. Just make up a small sample of the recommended mixture (see Resin specification) and pour it into a plastic cup, about 3 or 4 cc will suffice. Once the resin has hardened, and it will require a full day at warm room temperature or so to reach full hardness (see 'Curing'), the block of resin can be prised out of the cup and examined. It should be completely solid, slightly flexible, and almost unbreakable: ie it should be 'tough'. It should resist indentation by a reasonably sharp object such as a nail. If it is unsatisfactory in any way the user should determine exactly what the problem is.


If prepared and introduced in the controlled conditions described it is not strictly necessary to take any further action except to ensure that the conditions prevail until the resin mixture is fully hardened; ie keeping the ladders in the vicinity of a warm radiator or in a similar situation for at least 24 hours. Detailed guidance is provided with the Trylon resin.


Approximately 1 - 2cc resin will be required for each rung end. To reduce waste and mess it is a good idea to 'Araldite' a number of ladders in one session, allowing say 50cc per ladder side, plus an allowance for leakage which can only be determined by experience. Remember that only one side of a ladder can be done in a session. The resin and hardener should be mixed in disposable plastic containers which can be formed to have a 'spout' for pouring into the rung cavity. If a sharp 4.2mm drill has been used for the holes, spillage from rung holes is negligible. However it is possible to use plasticine or adhesive tape to seal the gaps in each of the rung holes around the wire to reduce leakage of resin, coil up the ladder(s) loosely, and stand on one end on a plastic sheet to catch any escaped resin. If there is leakage then topping up must be carried regularly and frequently, before a previous application has 'gone off' and until there is a good 'dome' of resin at the top of the rung. A 1ml and 20ml hypodermic syringe is very useful in measuring quantities accurately. The resin is very viscous and as such is difficult to remove from a conventional vessel.


The resin and hardener specified were selected on advice from the manufacturers of commercial, wire caving products as being suitable for the purpose.


The C-links are incorporated in the ladder tail during the pressure bonding process but some preparation will be required as the C-links are usually purchased in the form of a length of lifting chain. The links need to be separated and the easiest way is to cut a V notch in each side of each link on the welded side and thus they can be detached and at the same time checked for clearance and ease of use. It is advisable to remove rough edges with a file and it is usually necessary to trim the V notch a little to ease the C-linking process before attaching to the ladder tail.

Eyes and splices

This part of the process requires the greatest attention to detail and it applies to single wire belays and to spreaders as well as to ladder tails. A separate paper will be prepared detailing the use of the CCL press for the pressure-bonded ferrule eye splice ('Talurit'). It will include testing methods.

Identification tags

One of the most important parts of the ladder is the identification tag which enables a proper record to be kept of age and usage. Many different methods have been used in the past and all have been fraught with problems. As the Club now has an engraver it is proposed here that all future wire tackle be equipped with at least three ferrules loosely threaded on the wires (during the assembly process in the case of ladders): one of these is to be engraved with date of manufacture in the form - 192 (month/year) on one side, with the CPC abbreviation on the other side of the same tag. The second tag is to show the ladder (or belay) length, in the form 20F(6M) {feet(Metres) long} and the ladder number motif. The third tag is reserved for marking a new length if the ladder or belay is shortened.

In addition it is also proposed that the same information be engraved on at least two of the inner rungs of each ladder in case tags are removed maliciously.

Finishing off the ladder

The final process is to remove surplus resin and file or grind off any rough rung ends to give a smooth rounded finish. Examine every part of the ladder in the most minute detail to ensure that every inch of the wire is in perfect order and that every rung is securely 'Araldited'.

Proof testing

See separate paper on eye splices referred to above.(CPC Record 27)

Care and maintenance

The reader is referred to the section on further reading for details about the care of ladders and belays in use, and in rigging and de-rigging.

Ladders (and belays) need little maintenance but they must always be washed thoroughly after use and hung up to dry in a well ventilated room. Ladders should never be rolled tightly except when required for transport along small cave passages.

Ladders should always be stored in the tackle room in a loose coil.

Ladder tails should never be pulled tightly around the coils to secure the ladder for transit or for storage for the following reasons:

  1. continued flexing of the tail will result in weakening and eventual failure

  2. it tends to open out the strands allowing the ingress of grit which is not easily dislodged during washing and will give rise to additional wear and corrosion

  3. it is a point which is likely to receive the greatest abrasion in transit

  4. the wires will develop a permanent 'kink' also leading to accelerated wear and corrosion

Thus the weakest points of the ladder are at the points where the tails approach the end rungs and special attention should be given to this when examining the ladder.


It is the duty of every meet leader, whether private meet or Club meet, to carefully inspect every item of tackle to be used before taking it out of the store, and on return to the store. The Tacklekeeper, and the Assistant Tacklekeeper, will normally perform this duty on every item of tackle in their appropriate store on a regular and frequent basis.

The inspection involves:

  1. checking the identification tags

  2. examining the full length of each wire for broken wires, damaged sections and rust

  3. examining each rung for excess wear, dents or damage of any form

  4. particular attention should be paid to the wire tails, looking for broken strands or rust

  5. the ferrule and thimble should be examined for wear, corrosion or damage

All observations of damage, excess wear or corrosion must be recorded in the tackle log, any suspect item must be taken out of service immediately, labelled accordingly, put on one side away from the tackle in regular use, and the Tacklekeeper informed at the earliest opportunity so that the suspect item can be replaced or repaired without delay.


Wire: 4mm 7 x 19 preformed, steel core, galvanised, steel rope with steel centre strand to British Standard (BS) 3530. (Sometimes incorrectly referred to as 'Bowden cable'). Stainless steel has been found to be subject to peculiar corrosion problems when used underground and should not be considered.

Rungs: Hard aluminium alloy tube T6082T6, 5/8 inch OD x 16 gauge.(l5.9mm x l.6mm wall thickness).

Pins: There is no general specification for pins as they are not load-bearing. However the terms mentioned above should be referred to. Steel nails are recommended of a size and shape to open out the lay of the wire inside the rung without damaging the strands and a suggested size range is 0.1 - 0.15" (2.5 - 3.8mm)

Pressure bonded fittings and thimbles: CCL 'CABCOTALURIT INTAL' ferrules attached by means of the CCL Talurit 250kN Press. BS 6570:1986 gives recommendations on the use of thimbles.

A separate article will contain details on the use of the Talurit Press.

C-links: Short link chain for general engineering purposes, non-calibrated - 3/8 inch (9.5mm); 1 7/8 inch (48mm) overall length - to BS 6405:1984 Type 1. Proprietary galvanised C-links are available at greater cost.

Suppliers and costs (as at Winter 1994/95)


CCL Systems Ltd
Ellend Road
West Yorks
LS11 8BH
01132 701221

For nominal 4mm rope

Order code 300045, [[sterling]]8.10 per 100 ([[sterling]]0.08 each)


R Perry & Co
90 Church Street
L41 5EQ
0151 647 5751

SP67C (for ladder tails) - 4mm [[sterling]]37.15 per 100 ([[sterling]]0.37 each)

SP67F (for belay tails) - 8mm [[sterling]]38.00 per 50 ([[sterling]]0.76 each)


Dale & Co Ltd
Ancoats Chain & Testing Works
Chapeltown Street
M1 2WF
0161 273 1990

Calibrated chain 3/8", 12 tonne, Grade 80

[[sterling]]9.30 per metre ([[sterling]]0.28 each)

Wire Rope

Dale & Co Ltd
Ancoats Chain & Testing Works
Chapeltown Street
M1 2WF
0161 273 1990

4mm 7 * 19, Galvanised Steel, Steel core

[[sterling]]73.00 per 100m

([[sterling]]11.45 per 25' ladder)


Thrift Street
01933 664275

Polyester resin in styrene monomer (Filled casting resin) (3-6 month shelf life)

Code FC702PA [[sterling]]5.05 per Kg


Code UN2550 [[sterling]]1.10 per 20ml

Mixing quantities: 1 part catalyst to 100 resin

Colouring agents: Rylands polyester colour paste

Pirate Red: Code 3950 [[sterling]]5.81 per 500gm

Golden Yellow: Code 3754 [[sterling]]5.81 per 500gm


Simmal Ltd
Unit 479
Walton Summit
Bamber Bridge
01772 324277

Hard Aluminium alloy tube: T6082(H30) or T6063, 5/8" O/D * 16 gauge (15.9mm * 1.6mm wall) [[sterling]]1.90 per metre

01772 324277


Any closed cell foam (Karrimat, etc)

No general specification but approximately 10mm thick and 15mm diameter seems a good fit.


12mm long, 2mm diameter, 6mm round head would be ideal if anyone sold them. Plasterboard nails seem to be a reasonable compromise

Recommended reading

"How the CPC Rope-ladder Was Evolved" by Edgar Smith, CPC Journal Vol 1 No 3 1951 pp 114- 118

"Light-weight Metal Ladders" by Dennis Brindle, CPC Journal Vol 2 No 4 1958 pp 234- 238

"Tackle 1967" by Steve Warren, CPC Journal Vol 4 No 1 1967 pp 31- 33

"Tackle Testing Report" by Alan Wallbank, CPC Journal Vol 4 No 5 1971 pp 278-280

"Ladders and Lifelines" by Arthur Champion, CPC Record Nos. 6 - 9.

"Tackle Suppliers" CPC Record No. 15 pp 12

"Caving Practice and Equipment" ed David Judson (BCRA)

"Ferrule Secured Eye Terminations on CPC Tackle" by A C Hardy CPC Record No 27 pp 25-33

"Caving ladder construction -Epoxy resin process" Kendal Cave Club

"Ladders again" by Arthur Hardy, CPC Record No. 29 pp 28-30

"Load tests on ladder rungs" by Arthur Hardy, CPC Record No. 30 pg 31

"Load tests on ladder rungs" by Arthur Hardy, CPC Record No. 33 pg 40

Further information on inspection and maintenance is given in the following, all held in the Club library:

"The Tacklekeeper's Toolkit" a compendium of all relevant specifications and notes (held by the Tacklekeeper as well as in the Club Library)

BS 6570: 1986 The selection and care and maintenance of steel wire ropes

BS 6405: 1984 Non-calibrated short link steel chain (grade 30) for general engineering purposes: class 1 and 2

The Chain Testers Handbook

The Construction of ladders & belays : eyes & splices

The Club acquired a Talurit press for swaging wire ends just as the previous article on ladder and belay construction was going to press and the present article completes the guide to ladder and belay construction. After some experimentation, and after a demonstration by CCL Systems of Leeds, a suitable procedure has been devised for making eye splices and it is proposed that it be adopted for all future CPC tacklemaking. The reader is advised to consider the following recommendations in conjunction with the papers listed at the end of the article.


This part of the process calls for the greatest attention to detail and it applies to single wire belays and headers as well as ladder tails. Correctly made eye splices have greater strength than the wire itself and it should never be possible to pull the wire out of a splice before the wire breaks. A number of tests have been made to assemble quantitative data and this is recorded in a separate article prepared by A C Hardy (1992). In addition further tests have been made on pins and resins and the results are included in the same article. It is proposed that regular checks be carried out as new tackle is made up and that these be recorded in the Tacklekeeper's log and then summarised in Club publications along with regular tackle status reports.

The system

The reason for having eye splices at the ladder end is to facilitate the securing of the ladder to a belay or for joining ladders together. There are several other ways of achieving the same objectives, eg a simple wire loop at one end of the ladder, but they are not relevant in the context of caving. Several techniques and resources have been used in the past but within the context of CPC tackle all future eye splices will be made using the proprietary technique commonly referred to as the 'Talurit' process and for this purpose the Club has purchased a suitable press. 'Talurit' is a trademark of CCL Systems PLC, a Leeds based company who specialise in wire rope terminations of every description.

In simple terms an eye splice is formed by passing the wire through a ferrule - a short aluminium sleeve, forming the wire end around a 'thimble', passing the wire back through the ferrule and compressing the ferrule in a powerful press to close it up on the wire. The process also tightens the wire on the thimble sufficiently to prevent it escaping from the loop of the wire. This manner of 'cold-working' the aluminium causes it to become 'work-hardened' and to have properties of strength and hardness superior to its original form. The aluminium is pressed into the lay of the wires which themselves are forced into a very close formation. However, the great strength of the join lies in the elementary force of friction between the wire and the work-hardened aluminium. The strength of the join is considerably greater than that of the wire itself and it also has the advantage of being more resistant to corrosion than other methods of achieving the same objective eg the Flemish splice.


To produce the eye splice all that is needed are the items mentioned above - the ferrule, the thimble and of course the wire - and the CCL Talurit 250kN press. This is made up of a hydraulic pump, similar to a 'bottle-type' hydraulic car jack, which is bolted to, and intrinsically coupled to, a hydraulic ram in a steel anvil, and a pair of hardened steel swaging dies. The press will handle anything from 3mm to 9mm wire when used correctly. The swaging dies used for our purposes (see Specifications) are specific for 4mm steel core wire and must never be used for any other type of material. It is these which translate the force exerted by the press into the compression and shaping of the ferrule.


The press is quite simple to use having only two controls: a long pump handle and a release valve. Close the release valve by turning clockwise and pump the handle up and down. The hydraulic ram will rise moving the lower swaging die up to meet the upper, fixed, swaging die. As this will apply a force of close to 25 tons it is advisable to keep one's fingers well clear. The pump action will require greater and greater force as a ferrule is compressed and when the two faces of the swaging dies are seen to close up completely compression is complete. Turn the release valve to allow the swages to open up sufficiently to allow withdrawal of the ferrule and wire and close it again. The ram will be seen to have a spring return action to re-open the swaging dies. It is advisable to leave the press with the release valve open, ie the jaws fully open, when not in use as the springs can get 'tired' over the life of the press.


Essentially the process is one of measuring the wire tail accurately to such a length that when it has been passed round the thimble and back through the ferrule the wire end should be seen to occupy the full length of the ferrule after compression, and that the ladder tail, or the belay, be of the correct, specified, length. From the results of trials it has been found that, with the thimbles currently available, 7 3/8 inch (188mm) of wire, from the face of the end rung is suitable for a ladder termination which will produce a ladder tail of such a length as to give a 12 inch (305mm) rung spacing at the join of two ladders. Of the 188mm, 128mm of wire is used in the end "loop", ie from the rung end of the ferrule round to the rung end of the ferrule. It is intended as a compromise between a longer tail for flexibility and the concomitant excessive 'step' in the ladder at the join. The correct length to give the standard 10 inch (254mm) step results in a very short tail having no flexibility for securing the ladder (which should only be used when required for transport through a long or particularly difficult cave system as mentioned in the associated article). Ladder tail dimensions are critical because:

  1. both tails at one end of a ladder have to be identical otherwise the ladder will hang lop-sidedly,

  2. uneven tails will result in excessive strain being applied to one side of the ladder,

  3. ladder tails need to be standardised to avoid uneven ladder joints on a long pitch.

In the case of belays a different measurement is required because:

  1. the object is to attain a specific overall length of belay

  2. the thimble used for belays is to be of a larger size to accommodate a lOmm 'Maillon' as well as the standard C-link.
For a specific length of belay the cut wire length needs to be approximately 11 inches longer than the specified belay length. Unlike the ladder tail, a belay measurement is not critical. All these dimensions are dependent on the actual size of the thimble which may vary somewhat according to the source.

Compressing the ferrule

Thus, having determined, measured and cut to length the wire end, it is threaded through the ferrule, passed round the thimble and taken back through the ferrule. Two vital steps must not be omitted at this stage:

  1. the C-link must be fitted to the thimble first as it is not possible to open up the C-link sufficiently to pass it over the thimble, and,

  2. a thin smear of grease (commercial multigrade grease as used in the motor trade) must be applied to the external area of the ferrule to assist the 'flow' in the swaging dies.
It is now a question of manual dexterity to hold the wire closely into the thimble, offer the ferrule up to the swaging dies and close them up, sufficiently to clamp the ferrule but not to compress it at this stage, and by manipulating the wire and thimble between thumb and two fingers ensure there is a clearance between ferrule and thimble of 3mm and a similar length of free wire protruding from the ferrule; at the same time the wire must be closely held into the valley of the thimble. When all is satisfactory, use the free hand to work the pump to compress the ferrule until the swaging dies are seen to be completely closed up. It is advisable to practice the technique on scrap wire as an unsatisfactory termination will have to be discarded; in the case of a ladder it will most likely mean shortening the ladder.

The wire end should still be visible at the free end of the ferrule but should not protrude so far as to be hazardous. There should be a small clearance between the ferrule and the thimble which, it is recommended, should be approximately equal to the thickness of the wire. The wire should be pulled well into the thimble although a little freedom of movement is acceptable. The excess 'flash' should trimmed off with a file but it is customary to leave a 'witness' at each side by not removing the whole of the raised portion.


The final stage is to carry out a 'proof test' of the finished product by loading the wire tails or belay to the normally recommended 50% over the safe working load. In the case of caving equipment a suggested test is to simply hang the ladder or belay from a beam and load it with three heavy people ie say around 36 stone (2881bs or 130kg). This figure is in the order of 10% of that which will cause the wire to fail. The wire tails should be observed during the process and any perceptible movement of wire in the ferrule should be regarded as indicative of faulty construction and the item immediately rendered completely unserviceable - by cutting the wire for example.


Press: CCL Talurit 250 kN portable press Model HG 6 5/9

Swaging dies: Straight- through INTAL 4.5/A4 9mm dia (one set)

Ferrules: CABCO-TALURIT Intal Code 4.5 (for 3.7 - 4.5 steel core wire rope)

Thimbles: standard 4mm wire rope thimble available from boat/marine suppliers at approx 30p (GI) or 90p (SS). For belays the larger 9mm or lOmm thimble is recommended so that a lOmm Maillon can be attached for pulley work.

Wire: 4mm x 19 preformed steel core, galvanised, steel rope with steel centre strand, to British Standard (BS) 3530. (Sometimes incorrectly referred to as 'Bowden cable').

C-links: Short link chain for general engineering purposes, non-calibrated - 3/8 inch (9.5mm); 1 7/8 inch (48mm) overall length - to BS 6405/1984 Type 1. Proprietary galvanised C-links are available at greater cost.

Recommended reading

"A guide to the construction of ladders and belays", S E Warren. In this publication

"Ferrule secured eye terminations on CPC tackle" A C Hardy. CPC Record 27.

The original version of these two articles was written by Steve Warren and published in the CPC Handbook 1992. Amendments to the articles, made by the current tackle master in order to incorporate changes in practice and material which has become available since the original article, are shown in italics.

BCRA Public Liability Scheme

The CPC has participated in the BCRA insurance scheme for some time now and in order to acquaint members with some details the latest information from BCRA is summarised below: it does differ a little from previous details and so should be read carefully. Please note that the cover applies only to fully paid up members (which includes Probationary Members within the six month trial period). The premium paid by the Club is [[sterling]]1 for each member.

The Scheme gives cover for the year running from 1 October to 30 September, the renewal date being the 1st. of October each year. Clubs must declare how many members they have in total (both active and inactive) when applying for cover. Persons who join the Club during the period of insurance are automatically covered, without the need to pay any additional premium. Written membership records must, however, be maintained. The insurers have the right to inspect these records to satisfy themselves that membership totals have not been understated.

The policy provides cover world-wide, with the exclusion of North America, for the Club and for Club Members against legal liabilities in the areas of:

The cover is very wide and includes:

All landowners are automatically covered against claims by cavers or by members of the public which arise from the actions of cavers and fall within the provisions of the Occupiers Liability Act. Furthermore, the legal use of explosives is automatically covered, provided they are stored and used within the terms of the current Home Office and other statutory directives, as are self-employed caving instructors who are members of insured Clubs. In neither case is it necessary to provide individual details or to issue a separate certificate. Profit making enterprises (as distinct from solely the recover of costs) undertaken by a club are probably outside the scope of the policy.

The limit of indemnity is [[sterling]]2,000,000 for any one event.

Based on information provided in Caves & Caving Issue 66, Winter 1994

Data Protection Act 1984

In order to remain within the Data Protection Act it is necessary to formally advise all members that details of their names, addresses and telephone numbers (where appropriate) are maintained on a computer record which is used to generate address labels for mailing purposes. The same computer file has been used to generate the list of members incorporated in this handbook which is normally only available to members, probationary members, and persons expressing an interest in becoming probationary members.

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