Number 45, January 1997
Published by the Craven Pothole Club, Ivy Cottage, Horton-in-Ribblesdale, North Yorkshire. Copyright - Craven Pothole Club. No part of this Record may be reproduced without permission from the Committee of the Craven Pothole Club.
Contributions to this publication are welcome in any form and can be accepted on MSDOS disk. (ASCII or Word preferred)
Dr. R.A. Halliwell, Academic Office, The University, HULL, HU6 7RX
Tel No: 01482 465948(W) 876544(H) 466441(FAX)
But enough of the last year, the current CPC-year got off to a memorable start with the first underground President's Meet for some time. Approximately twenty percent of the membership turned out to support our new President in his wish to traverse the Calf Holes/Brow Gill System. The numbers, and possibly the caving skills and attitudes of the people present, appeared to cause some amazement to an outdoor pursuits group who failed in their desire to traverse the system in the opposite direction to our juggernaut. The antics necessary to beat the wind and snow in order to ensure that all the vehicles made it back to the Cottage also helped to make this an unforgettable start to "The year of the Harpic".
As announced at the AGM the Club members who have been helping Geoff Workman with his dig near Stump Cross were rewarded in October when the dig finally went. A full history of the dig can be found later in this Record and a detailed description and survey will appear in the next Record. Although a final agreement has yet to be signed the landowner has said that he is willing to allow access to the new cave under a leadership scheme involving the original diggers. The reason for this restriction is that the new entrance allows access to the Stump Cross streamway which until now could only be entered through the show-cave. Both the show-cave and the club received welcome publicity in the form of a full back-page spread in last month's Yorkshire Post. All we need now is for some of the Club's many and varied other digging projects to go.
A few members have said both to me and to some of the older members that they would like to know more about caving in the past. I hope that, with some help, I will be able to meet this demand. As an experiment I have included in this Record a short "What the Journals were saying 50 years ago" article; Hugh Bottomley has also provided two articles with an historical bias. Please let me know whether or not you would like to see more of this type of article, especially the newer members who may not know all that much about the memorable history of the CPC in particular and caving in general.
The closing date for contributions to the next Record is 17 March but if you can get your contributions to me well before that date then it makes my job a lot easier.
Ireby Fell Caverns (15 September 1996) Present: Steve Kelley (Leader), Tony Whitehouse, Michael Whitehouse(G), Rob Dove, John Webb, Ian Woods, Heather Wilkinson(P), Dave Kaye, Simon Parker, Emma Faid, Alec Bottomley, Michael Bottomley(G), Roy Clunie, Edward Whittaker, Peter Whittaker, Emma Carpenter(P), Patrick Warren, Henry Rose, Howard Beck, Paul Massey(G), Karen Lane, Peter Rose, and Andy Roberts
Well it was not the blizzards, hooligan and rain storms I have had on my meets in the past. It was a nice, sunny, dry day. So, expecting a cast of thousands, I set off early only to find Rob Dove already waiting.
By 9.30am, a group of five were sent with ladder and lifeline to rig the cave. As a good CPC Leader I went in the middle with "Bottomleys 2" leaving a small group of SRTers and a group of de-tacklers to follow. The three of us got down to Duke Street in time to meet the tacklers returning from the bottom. We continued down to the sump which was unusually low and dry. As we made our way back I grabbed a quick bite of Pork Pie which stuck in my wind pipe. This was freed by a sharp slap on the back by Alec - thanks very much!!
We met the de-tacklers and SRTers at the bottom of Well pitch. We had a very pleasant trip out and everyone was back on the surface by 4.30pm - leaving time to enjoy some of the sunshine after a very good day.
One point I would like to raise is the new "P" hangers that have been placed in the cave. They are perfect for SRT but, as a lot of cavers still use ladders on this type of trip, why oh why have all the old ladder belays been removed?? This makes the trip very awkward for novice cavers as ladders are difficult to reach and sometimes hard traverses have to be negotiated making safe lifelining difficult if not impossible.
Finally thank you all for attending and making this an excellent meet.
Steve and his wife Christine were recently injured in a car accident and our best wishes go out to both of them for a speedy recovery Ed
Lake District Camp (28-29 September 1996)
Present: Steve Pickersgill, Barbara Jenkins, Ric and Pat Halliwell, Dave and Jan Hoggarth, Jeff Cowling, Alec Bottomley, (camping) Bob, Sarah and Jenny Jenkins, Martin Taylor and Rachel (Saturday only).
Camp was established on Friday evening on Sykes campsite at Brotherswater, Pat asked why there was a sign in the office saying not to leave food in your tent, she was asked if she had ever been camping before! Food left in tents attracted wild animals, in America it was illegal to leave food in tents in some areas!
Saturday morning dawned a typical Lakeland day, intermittent bright spells in between the rain, and windy. We checked to see if the ferry was running on Ullswater, with a view to walking back from Howtown. It was dependent on the strength of the wind. We decided to go high instead as the weather seemed to be improving. We set off along Caiston Glen to Scandale Pass to join the Fairfield ridge on Dove Crag. At the col before Hart Crag worsening weather and several knee problems saw all but Jan and Dave contouring onto the Hartsop above How Ridge, Jan and Dave went over Hart Crag. A steep descent and we were at Cow Bridge and a gentle stroll along Brotherswater back to the campsite.
The weather deteriorated further, and all the rag hut campers dined in the Inn. It rained and blew all evening. During the night we ended up literally camping in a lake, at lam we were rapidly decamping in knee deep water and driving rain, Alec and Jeff went to Conistone while the remainder assembled in the pub car park, Steve and Barbara borrowed dry sleeping bags from Jan and Dave and attempted to sleep in their van, Pat and Ric stayed in their car, eventually leaving around 5am. After dawn Barbara joined a few people searching for belongings and recovered most, if not all, of our pegs and also a bottle of wine. Jeff s credit cards were also found.
After a brew and breakfast it was decided to abandon the Sunday walk due to lack of dry clothing, boots etc and the weather still did not look very inviting.
Car Pot (12 October 1996) Present : Patrick Warren, Gemma Connolly, Simon Ashby, Howard Beck, Tom Thompson, Karen Lane, Andy Roberts (leader)
Peter Barnes was unable to lead this meet because he had to go off on a free climbing holiday in Patagonia or some such place, so I seized the opportunity to lead this fine pot.
For some reason this meet was due to kick off at the unearthly hour of 8.00am from Clapham, I was there and duly settled down to an hours sleep before the arrival of a party from the cottage who took full advantage of the lie in. A jolly hike under blue skies was had even though Patrick's feline friend at Clapdale had stood him up !
The first snag underground predictably occurred at the Baptistry, when Tom's bad head visibly pulsed, causing him to be re-pulsed from the cave. Next to fall was Simon when he discovered that Baptistry Crawl had shrunk since his last visit, must be all that water. Finally, the awkward take-off's, lack of good belays and the oblique line taken by the ladder on the combined 3rd/4th pitch caused further delays. Eventually the milky, clean washed walls of the final pitch were upon us, opening onto the grandiose Craven Passage.
Homage was paid at the shrine of the big dingle dangle, which was in fine fettle, due no doubt to the natural access arrangements. The mud wall was tackled and this speleo shepherd led his flock along an increasingly tighter tube until a total blockage of stal caused the leader to admit that he had gone slightly astray. The next thing I recall was being engulfed in acrid black smoke which rapidly filled the small passage causing me to wretch violently. Whilst manoeuvring back I had allowed my carbide flame to play upon the tackle sack stuffed under my nose causing a small fire to break out, this was quickly brought under control, unlike my respiratory system. On the return, a proddle in the pool at the foot of the big pitch confirmed my suspicions that Car Pot is the finest "pickings" site in the Dales. Apart from writing off my camera in the crawl, the outward journey was uneventful.
Great Douk/Sunset (26 October 1996) Following a day and night of torrential sunshine and howling calm, thirteen wimps lay basking in the shimmering heat in the layby above the Hill Inn. There were great clamorings about "let's get going", " We can't wait", etc etc. Everyone was anxious to get as dry as possible, and Great Douk did not disappoint us. The normal waterfall at the entrance had dried to a sun-scorched dustbowl, so we carefully by-passed it to avoid getting too dry - except Sue Allonby who has extra long legs. We waded through deepening dust to pass below the middle entrance and then sauntered up the slightly dry passage until the wet oxbow was encountered. A brief pause to allow the stragglers to accumulate, then it was a quick dash up the crawl to exit, bone dry, from Middle Washfold. As leader I refused to stop in the crawl because it was far too dry and I would have overheated. By the time the end of the crocodile reached the deep, dry bit, a severe case of aquaphobia had become an epidemic and most retreated because the dryness nearly met the roof.
By the time everone had reached the cars and stripped off their dry gear and got into cold, wet clothes, the offer of an afternoon visit to Sunset Hole was gleefully taken up.
We went to the Hill Inn and Bernie's.
This is a true report (well, some of it .........artistic licence rules O.K.)
Those present: Bob Jenkins (leader-ish), Sarah Jenkins (p), Tony and Sarah Blick (g), Henry Rose, Emma Carpenter (p), Mary and Barry Hunkin, Mike Ashworth (p), Sue Allonby, John Allonby (surface supporter), John's dog , Tony, Emily (g) and Michael (g) Whitehouse.
Short Drop/Gavel Pot (10 November 1996) Present: N Thompson, J Webb, M Hunkin, B Hunkin, H Rose, T Whitehouse, E Whitehouse(G), M Whitehouse(G), J Tudor(G), M Ashmore(P), J Melbourne(P), D Kaye, E Carpenter(P), P Barnes, M Baslington, C Little, J Little, J Allen(G), A Roberts, S Allonby, J Christie, M Stebbings(L), J Campbell(G), E Porter, S Howe, K Lane, R Scott, T Beck(G), H Beck, S Jenkins(P), T Blick, S Blick(G), P Rose, K Blick(L), P Gray. Surface Support R Jenkins.
A beautiful misty, frosty morning. We got our early morning call, left the cottage on time, gear and tackle ready. Pete Rose called "turn left at Ingleton and if you hit Grassington you've gone too far."
Some people were already there when we arrived at Cowan Bridge Car Park. They kept on arriving. Jan and Oggy came to say hello on their way home and the CPC gradually took over the entire car park.
With help from Karen Lane, Pete Gray and Bob Jenkins transport difficulties were overcome and all were driven to the Leck Fell site. In glorious sunshine Emma Porter, Jo and Sean set off to rig the first pitch in Short Drop. Five others left to rig Gavel Pot.
From Rift Entrance to the daylight pitch at the entrance to Gavel Pot is easy, very straight forward and enjoyable - not too much water. With such large numbers, however, the going was rather slow. This left time for those who were inclined to have a good look around. From Rift Entrance we had a short crawl and a nice stretch of walking passage. There was, as expected, a wait at the top of the pitch. Some folk used this stop to investigate the nooks and crannies overhead. The younger people sang to help entertain us. Michael Whitehouse never flinched when a large deposit of mud landed on his helmet and slipped slowly down his neck. Michael can thank those who were attempting to queue jump.
John C and Pete G helped sort the queue out and people began to move swiftly onwards. A few of the party got very wet on the pitch due to the helpers' antics. Tony Blick had a few choice phrases for them, none however, were as bad as his now famous "road rage diatribes."
I was last down the pitch there was time to enjoy a quiet look round before setting off down stream passage. Beyond Boulder Bridge a decision was made to take some of the young people out via Rift Entrance. Margaret S, Tony B, Tony W and Jo C ensured their safe return to the surface. Tony Whitehouse derigged the pitch.
Henry R and Sean H lifelined those of us who came through the climb and the traverse. Pete Rose was also doing a good job lifelining all who came out of the system at the daylight pitch.
Chris and Jan Little and John Allen decided to stay underground and this is their report.
We emerged from Short Drop in the huge impressive shakehole of Gavel and continued down the two climbable entrance pitches. The second of these is a scaffolded walled shaft which looked in dubious condition. Howard Beck and party were ascending the shaft having been through the watery October Series. We met Pete Barnes and Co. at the bottom looking for Howard's lot and advising us to visit Glasfurd's Chamber. We continued on downstream in a wide walking/stooping passage to the head of the first pitch which was too wet to ladder. Back upstream we climbed into a roof passage towards Glasfurd's Chamber. This started as a crawl and led onto a series of beautifully decorated chambers divided by low archways which became lower and lower between the chambers. Each chamber being better than the last. The walls and roof are all covered in pure white calcite and these are decorated with fabulous stals, curtains and formations which we found absolutely breathtaking. John and I progressed with greater enthusiasm between each chamber to find we had left Jan behind trying to negotiate some of the lower archways. We continued to the very end - a muddy boulder choked chamber and returned to collect Jan.
This had taken much longer than expected and we were grateful to find Kath and Margaret patiently waiting for us, after everyone else had long since departed, to ferry us off the fell, thereby saving us from a long, uncomfortable walk back to Cowan Bridge Car Park.
Our thanks to all those who helped with rigging, transport and advice. We enjoyed the meet and there was something for everyone. It was lovely to see the young and the more advanced in years enjoy a good trip. Thanks to everyone who came along. Thirty-five people went down. What a relief when thirty-five people came out.
Kath Blick & Margaret Stebbings
Gavel Pot (10 November 1996)
Present (at various times) Pete B, Dave, John, Andy, Howard, Henry, Karen, Jan & Chris + guest. (many apologies for the lack of surnames or any names wrong, I have an appalling memory for names - which often gets me into trouble! )
I had no real intention of doing Gavel Pot, an easy bimble along Short Drop was what I had in mind when I left home, however best laid plans always change. My first reaction on driving into Cowan Bridge car park was to turn around and find a cave to solo for the day. I was told later that 34 cavers were signed up to go underground but take it from me - it looked an awful lot more! Not having any rope with me was, however, a major deciding factor and I joined the masses for the relay of vehicles up to the top lay-by.
Still convinced that there was at least half of the CPC about to start queuing down Short Drop I was quick to join a smaller group of Dave, Andy Roberts, John and Henry for the trip down Gavel Pot. Gavel has many things going for it, not least of which is a short walk to a spectacular shake hole entrance. Our first task was to rig the exit for the Short Drop mass excursion, not surprisingly perhaps this proved to take rather longer than expected. In essence we had to decide to either provide lots of gear for an easy exit to Short Drop or keep the gear for our own trip. Despite our conscience pricking us (honest!) we kept the gear and left a hand line at the exit - which proved enough in any event. Henry volunteered to wander back along Short Drop to let the others know what we had done.
The next drama was to quickly check our gear to check that we actually did have enough. Sure enough, suspicions were well founded, there was nowhere near enough gear so what we did have was left at the surface unused and we moderated our plans. At least we found out in daylight rather than when dangling in the stream underground.
A handline was dropped down the entrance shaft and the team of four quickly descended. It is amazing how we all managed to convince ourselves that the "certain death - keep out" signs at the top of the shored up shaft were out of date! Needless to say the shaft didn't collapse and we dropped into the Gavel streamway. What can you say about a trip to Gavel? Firstly don't follow Andy he will disappear up some hole that cavers were never intended to enter; secondly the pitch, which we couldn't do, is spectacular and, on the day we were there, very, very wet; thirdly, go with a photographer - you will love their whoops of joy.
The reason for this last one is that Gavel is both spectacular and a photography daydream, a short walk, an easy entrance, very little water where it matters and, most of all, very pretty formations just minutes from the entrance. I can't believe there can be many caves with such pristine stals, straws and curtains just a few minutes walk into a cave, that loose entrance has a lot to be thanked for.
As for the others, Howard and Karen soon joined us having forsaken the crowds in Short Drop and were also suitably impressed. They even accompanied Andy along a pretty miserable crawl into the October series. They claimed afterwards that it was also well decorated, we would have followed them but John's lamp was playing up and when you have your face in the water of a tight crawl it doesn't take much of an excuse to back out!
On the way out we met Jan and Chris plus guest who thus became the only people to have completed the through trip to Gavel from Short Drop, which was derigged by the time we got out. So to sum it all up, it is possible to get down a spectacular cave when the required tackle has been left at the cottage! I do wonder, however, if Gavel should be on our meets list, not only is the entrance shaft an "interesting" place but the cave itself would not take kindly to groups of more than three or so - but if you get the chance get there and see it!
PS apologies to anyone who had expected to be able to give me a hard time on my first outing as a meet leader at Car Pot. I would have loved to be there but I was on an expedition to Patagonia at the time. Seven thousand miles is just a little bit too far to rush back, although I have been told I should have. Thanks to Andy for stepping in.
A little bit of history may help explain why Gavel was on the Meets Card. There were serious problems over 30 years with virtually no legitimate access to Leck or Casterton Fells and this was one of the reasons for the formation of CNCC. The access agreements which were negotiated by CNCC still seriously limit the number of permits available for Leck and the agreement is tightly policed by the gamekeeper. There are not even enough weekend permits to allow one for every club in CNCC and consideration is currently being given to placing a limit on the number of Leck permits issued to any Club in one year. Thus if our members are to gain access to Gavel we have to put in on the meets card, in tandem with Short Drop to allow for the numbers. And yes the two final pitches are wet and miserable and I wouldn't recommend them unless you like diving- Ed
President's Meet (Calf Holes / Brow Gill) (24 November 1996) Present: Harpic, Ric Halliwell, Peter Hobson(G), Jane Rickman(G), Ian Perreti, Hoggy and Jan Hoggy (Press Photographer), Kath Blick, Margaret Stebbings, Nigel Graham, Chris Little and Jan Little, Pete Gray, Nellie, Steve Kelley, Ted Wood, Carol Laffey, Henry Rose, Terry Shipley, Sarah Jenkins, Bob Jenkins, Barry and Mary Hunkin, Rob Scott, Alan Davey, Malc Foyle, Dillon, Andy Roberts, Patrick Warren, Dennis Bushell, Simon Parker, Emma Faid, Steve and Barbara Pickersgill, John Whalley, Lawrence Elton, Judy Clark
The day did not dawn as much as blear in to life. While tackle was being collected, the snow started to fall and people to arrive. The crowd of actors and supporters would have done credit to a Hollywood epic.
All went through, some of them twice. The bold meet leader was persuaded through the thin bit, after some disrobing and exited to a scene from Scott of the Antartic. Eventually, after some minor epics, everyone was safe back in Horton. Unfortunately, because of the adverse weather conditions, some of us could not make the Supper at Settle. Thanks must be given to Bucket Gob for helping your ancient President through the hole, and especial thanks to Nellie for his sterling support with his Landrover. If I missed anyone out of the list attending then I apologise, but there were a lot of you. Thanks for your support, all of you.
Alum Pot (31 December 1996)
When does a meet actually start? For most leaders, when they arrive at the tacklestore to pick up the tackle - or maybe the night before when they check what tackle they need from "Northern Graves"(sic). For me the meet started two months before with the News Report: "We are receiving reports of a fire in the Channel Tunnel". Two days of frantic phone calls by Chris eventually established a ferry ticket from Ostend to Ramsgate. So on 28th December we left Ludwigshafen in the Rhine Valley - snow covered and with temperatures rising to -10C at midday.
Two hours of careful driving (Germany does not believe in salting icy roads) and a brief stop at the Metz hypermarket brought us to Luxembourg - and the end of the snow. A clear run was enjoyed as far as Ghent and then it started snowing again. By the time we'd reached Ostend, there were several centimetres on the roads. In comparison the crossing and the run up country to the cottage was uneventful.
Snow on the 30th did not bode well for the meet. Alum can be a beastly place in snow and cold winds.
The 31st broke with brilliant sunshine over the crisp cold snow. A cast of thousands assembled on the Alum Pot track and a decision was taken to only tackle the Main Shaft - none of this namby-pamby Long Churn stuff for us. The sun glinting off the frozen waterfall was a magnificent sight as we all descended the South side.
Close to the final sump there was a deafening rumble and suddenly everyone's lights failed.
As I rubbed my eyes the deafening rumble continued - it had all been a dream - induced by Norma's sleeping juice. The rumble was the sound of the snow-plough clearing the road outside the cottage. It was 04.30am.
The 31st actually broke slowly with snow laden clouds blotting out the sun. Despite much encouragement (albeit half-hearted) no one wanted to go down Alum. At 10.30 the meet was abandoned. "SNOW stopped play!"
Back at home I consulted Howard Beck's book to find that the characters and clothing were identical to those seen on photographs of The Yorkshire Ramblers' expedition of 1896. This was the year after Martel's descent, on the occasion when the first Englishman (Calvert) stood in Main Chamber. After conversations with Don Mellor, Howard Beck and Ged Campion (YRC) it seems that these photographs might not be available to cavers anywhere else. If this is the case we intend to approach the decorating agency which supplied the photographs (Hedgerow Publishing Co. Ltd., 325 Abbeydale Road, Sheffield) with a view to getting copies for cavers' archives.
If anyone is passing near Castleton it's worth a detour to The Castle Hotel to look at these photographs. Their beer's not bad either!
When my brother asked me if I would join a pot-holing expedition to Leck Fell, I naturally agreed, as he was the leader in all our expeditions. I had then a very faint idea what a pot-hole was or how it was formed or what there might be at the bottom. I had certainly looked down Gaping Ghyll Hole and Alum Pot but that was as far as my knowledge went. The party consisted of five, two of them, the seniors, being married men, the others bachelors; one of the bachelors, Eckroyd, had been to the pot-hole before and knew what the difficulties were, the chief being the ascent of an underground waterfall some distance away from the foot of the big pot-hole, Low Dowk (now called Gavel Pot). Eckroyd got the mechanic at the mill where he worked to cut two lengths of iron piping the height of the waterfall, cord rungs were fastened to them, and kept tight by iron rods fastened to the uprights with nuts and screws both top and bottom. We had also a rope ladder which was needed to descend Low Dowk pot-hole.
Just before the day of departure arrived the wives of the seniors objected to their husbands risking their lives down a pot-hole; they might climb any mountain peak but must not go down pot-holes. That reduced us to three.
A start was made one Saturday in August, 1885, the party meeting at Melling station with all the luggage and tackle. E. had arranged with a farmer to meet us at the station and find us accommodation for the night. A short drive took us to the farm where we got out with our luggage, the farmer taking the tackle up Leck Moor and depositing it by the road side.
After changing into more suitable garments we followed the conveyance and when we were approaching the moor we met a shooting party returning. Eckroyd knew the keeper and stopped to speak to him, but when the latter heard of our proposed expedition he said, "Well, you may come out alive." We found our tackle, carried it to our pot-hole and soon had our rope ladder in position for the leader to descend; then we sent down the rest of the tackle and followed.
Near the foot of the ladder was the entrance to a cave which soon opened out above an underground watercourse, and on the left was a steep slope up to daylight. The stream was about ten feet below us and to get down to it we had to cross over to a ledge on the other side. Here our iron ladder came in useful. It was an easy climb down from our ledge to the stream, each one taking his share of the tackle. A start was made up-stream, we found the channel very lofty and wide enough to make progress easy and as we had not much time we hurried forward until we got to the waterfall and, leaving there our ladder and other tackle, hurried back and were soon out again on the moor.
Next morning we made an early start, the weather favouring us. On arriving at Low Dowk (Gavel Pot) we arranged our packs, leaving dry clothes on the surface to change into. We soon descended the ladder and started forward on our underground journey, having now time to examine the water channel more closely. The roof was at places a great height above us, and the side walls bulged inwards towards each other but allowed ample room for us to walk upright. This formation seems very common in underground watercourses, suggesting that there have been two stages; at first the stream flows along an upper channel, then opens up a fissure and proceeds to make another channel at a lower level, the intervening limestone being ultimately worn away by the carbonic acid in the water.
There was a fair sized stream but it delayed us very little, and on arrival at the waterfall lunch was eaten, the ladder put in position, and soon the whole party was at the top. We were all of the opinion that the waterfall could not have been climbed without the help of the ladder. The stream channel continued still very high, so progress was easy; no survey or measurement of any kind was taken on this expedition. In a little while we came to a junction of two passages, one a dry passage on the left and a watercourse on the right. We decided to take the dry one, why I do not remember, but I expect we thought it was not possible to follow the water channel any further, but I have heard since that it is possible and has been followed several times.
Very soon we came to a very narrow place. Eckroyd leading, got through and my brother followed, only just managing to squeeze through, but try as I would I could not get through and although I wanted the other two to go on and see what was in front, they decided not to separate and so we returned. It has been rumoured that had they gone on they would have come out at the bottom of High Dowk pot-hole (Marble Steps). We decided to return and were soon back at the waterfall, and found no difficulty in climbing down the ladder, which we left there, and so downstream and out of Low Dowk (Gavel Pot). So ended my first pot-holing trip and a very successful and enjoyable one.
Some ten or a dozen years afterwards a party of Yorkshire Ramblers spent one or two weekends on Leck Fell. Descending a pot-hole (now called Short Drop) they discovered a cave and after passing a narrow place without much difficulty entered a roomy water channel which they followed downwards, coming to a waterfall and finding to their astonishment the remains of our ladder; up to then they thought they were the first to discover the existence of this underground watercourse.
[Note by the (YRC) Editor--This determined and almost successful attempt by Messrs. W Eckroyd, Geoffrey and Cuthbert Hastings is shown by the internal evidence of the narrative to have reached within hail of Short Drop, a hole which was probably not open then. The pioneers had no idea that they could get through to daylight. The complete traverse of the magnificent tunnel from Short Drop to Gavel Pot was made by Cuttriss, Swithinbank, and JH Buckley in 1898]
During the summer of 1993 I was digging down into a small stream sink amongst boulders, close to North Pot. This required a considerable amount of timbering to make it safe, and eventually the digging area became too constricted and too deep for a one man operation. This seemed to be a good time to have a look at a nearby shakehole, which had some promising water worn rock projecting from the bottom. I had looked at the hole a few years previously, but had then decided that it looked like too big a job. Diary entry June 29, 1991 reads "An interesting (and promising) shakehole with good fluted rock in the bottom was noted south of North Pot and north of the old YURT dig." During September and October of 1993 work was started at the new dig, which was given the provisional, but uninspiring, name of Big Shake Dig. Digging conditions were very variable, with spoil consisting of everything from mud, through gravel up to large boulders too big to handle. At this point Gordon Hanley's land rover came in very useful. With a rope tied round the boulder and the other end tied to the land rover's tow bar, Gordon just drove away across the moor. The boulders ended up a considerable distance from the hole!
Bad weather and other projects meant that a return was not made until the summer of 1995. Diary 11 June 1995 "Dug in Big Shake 10.30 - 13.00 on my own. Built a new retaining wall and backfilled behind it. After lunch Jed arrived and gave me a hand for two hours. We shifted a lot of soil, clay and rocks; with some interesting bits exposed. We are stopped by 3 large boulders which will need splitting, but it looks promising." At this stage the dig had been excavated for about 3m, with an occasional draught in one corner. The two ends were solid limestone rock but the east and west sides both had to be timbered as the dig progressed. Progress was slow as most of the work was single handed with occasional help from others (I guess most people did not think it would go). One day Martin "Ches" Davies came across to have a look and said that they (i.e. YURT) had had a dig there some years ago, but had given it up after 3 weekends as being too unpromising. They only got down about 2m.
During the summer of 1995 Mal Goodwin came up a few times to drill some holes in some of the big boulders and destroy them with his "theatrical pyrotechnics". This enabled me to keep digging almost uninterrupted, although a little slowly. By the end of June the east side of the dig had gone into solid limestone, so I now had solid on three sides. It was getting better. In July some more large boulders were blown up by Ian "Watto" Watson to help keep things going. One boulder in particular was like a giant limestone "tooth" with an estimated mass of about seven tons. I was very glad to get rid of that! With the "tooth" removed I now had solid rock all round me. I seemed to be in the top portion of a fine water-worn shaft, oval shaped, and about 2m by 1.8m. It was looking even more promising, especially as I could look down about 2m between the wall and some loose rocks.
Numerous creatures were found down the bottom of the dig from time to time. These included large frogs, small frogs, worms, a rather thin lizard, several black beetles and a few flies. On first finding a frog I put it into a bucket and carried it up to the surface and into another shakehole, where I thought it would be safer. On my next visit I found another frog which I gave the same treatment. The next visit was the same. By now I was getting suspicious - was it the same frog that kept making its way back each time I moved it? The next time I found it I carried it very much further across the field to a pond that it might find attractive. I did not find it down the bottom of the dig again after that.
Except in the driest of weather, water flowed down into the dig although most of the time it flowed away quite easily through the gravel. Moving around in the bottom caused the clay to become puddled, so preventing the water to escape. Every morning, before I started work, I had to loosen the bottom with a long bar to drain the water away again. Digging was also slowed down by the stacking space in the shakehole having been all used up, and the spoil needed moving some distance away. In spite of various difficulties the dig had reached nearly 7m by the end of September, 1995. As the shakehole was 4m deep this made the bottom nearly 11m below moor level. There was also a small draught coming out of the north corner which increased quite strongly on the removal of a small rock. A small hole was visible which enabled a small pebble to be dropped down an estimated 4m.
At this stage Ross Hanley gave a hand with digging, Pete Jones also helped. Pete and Alan Weight later became the two most regular and useful assistants. After October bad weather, and other commitments, slowed down the work somewhat although one very important job was completed before the year end. Safety requirements meant that the dig had to be capped to prevent sheep and people from falling in. November and December were used (when weather permitted) to set a number of poles and girders into the rock to span the hole. This was done in the funnel shaped section at the top of the vertical shaft. This was to form the basis of a strong concrete cover. On Jan 6, 1996 the framework was covered by about 12 cm. of concrete reinforced by wire mesh. The working party consisted of Terry Shipley, Ric & Pat Halliwell, Russell & Ben Myers, Alan Weight, Mal Goodwin, Pete Jones, Tom Thompson, and myself. With a good party the work was completed in record time. The following Sunday (Jan 14) saw a further 10cm of reinforced concrete laid by Ric Halliwell, Terry Shipley, Pete Jones, Tracy Beasley, and myself
Thursday 29 Feb 1996 - Ben Mercer and Kevin Page from English Nature came up to Stump Cross to examine where Gordon Hanley wants to extend the Show Cave to include Reindeer Cavern. They then came across the field to look at the dig. Their only concern was - were the deposits being excavated stratified. As they were soon convinced that they were not, then they were quite happy with the organised way the dig was being carried out. Stump Cross is an SSSI and so any cave discovered by the dig will also be part of the same SSSI.
Ben asked "What are you going to call it?"
"I haven't decided yet" I replied "I'll probably give it a proper name after we break through".
"Do you think it is going to go somewhere then?" he asked.
"Oh yes," I said "I have great expectations of it."
"There you are then. Why not call it Great Expectations?"
It seemed to be as good a name as any, so it has stuck.
March was an interesting month. Diary 16 March 1996 "Pete came up to dig today and was surprised to find so much snow! We had to spend 20 minutes clearing snow before we could get down. During the day we lowered the dig by about 0.7m. The south end was dug until a big boulder at the north end could be rolled back, thus giving us access into a draughting hole which we had previously noticed. Crawling in and dropping down 0.3m brought us into a low round chamber about 2m in diameter, but full of more debris. To the left (west) a second shaft is about 5m deep with a very large boulder blocking the top, and a second boulder about 3 or 4m down" Fig. 1 is a rough sketch at this stage.
Wed 20 March - "Alan Weight came up for a couple of hours this evening. An attempt to descend the second pitch only succeeded in sending a couple of rocks crashing down. Clearly it is not yet safe enough."
Sat 23 March - "Joined again today by Pete. Removed loose rocks from second shaft."
Fri 29 March. - "Alan and Ric came to help today. Finished clearing rocks from the top of the second shaft. A safe descent was made to a depth of 3.5m, and below this a further pitch of 2.1m was found. To make it safe a lot more material needs to be removed. The bottom was cleared out for about 1m."
Sun 31 March - "Pete and Tracy came up and we cleaned out more debris to improve safety."
During April we continued clearing out. The floor of the small round chamber turned out to be not a floor at all, but the top of a very large rock that was wedged in. The shaft had been vertical for about 6m and then inclined to the N-NW until a depth of 8.4m after which it went vertical again for a further 3m. After this it descended a few "bucket seats" until we seemed to hit solid at a total depth of 13.5m. Fortunately the solid floor only came forward for about 0.5m, after which it went vertical again. By now we were in the top of a rift going slightly east of north for about 6m. The top was a very nice phreatic tube with a narrow (but negotiable) rift below. Most of the rift was open except for two very large monoliths of limestone partially blocking the main rift. To the left is a crawl which was cleared out for 2m, after which it led to a descending rift, but only about 10cm wide! We later plumbed this rift and found it to be 12m deep. What a pity it was so narrow. As the floor of the rift was still diggable it was hoped that the next major bedding plane might reveal a further route into the rift lower down.
Digging down the main shaft further revealed two features. - a) The first of the two limestone monoliths was actually a large loose block resting on the gravel that we needed to excavate, so it would have to be broken up and removed; and b) About 3m below the first crawl we found a second one. This second crawl was tighter than the first, but the rift at the end appeared to be a little wider (about 15 cm). Both of these crawls give out a good draught, although it is intermittent. It was now May and Pete had left to go on his sailing expedition in the Pacific.
Work continued during the summer breaking up and removing the monolith and then digging down further in the floor until a total depth of 18m had been reached. The second monolith turned out to be attached to solid, so that did not need removing. Behind this other monolith there was a pit about 2.5m deep which went nowhere, so it could be used to dump spoil in and thus save effort in hauling to surface.
By early September we had found a slot in the right (east) wall which also gave out an intermittent draught. By the end of the month another small hole had appeared at the south end of the east wall. Diary Wed 2 Oct - "Water flowing down the shaft and sinking in very small hole in east wall. Removed one medium sized rock and one small one from the edge of the hole. A larger hole was thus exposed (5cm x 10cm). It was seen to go down for 1.3m to the south east, and two small stones that were washed down by the flow of water fell for a considerable distance!" By 10 Oct the small hole had been dug and enlarged to about 15cm x 20cm, but still not quite large enough to get through. It was now possible to see into a larger black space where stones thrown in seemed to drop at least 3m.
The next two weekends saw much chipping with a hammer and chisel to slowly enlarge the little hole. Even then we could not get in because of battery packs getting in the way. Finally Alan Weight said "I am going to try it without the helmet and battery". Entering feet first, after much grunting he managed to get his whole body in. At this stage he was relying on my light which I was shining down the hole towards him. Suddenly he sounded very alarmed - "Pass my helmet and light down; I am on a ledge with nothing beyond my feet!"
Several CPC. members and others have assisted with this project especially Pete Jones and Alan Weight who have contributed the most. Help is also gratefully acknowledged from Tracy Beasley, Mal Goodwin, Ric Halliwell, Pat Halliwell, Russell and Ben Myers, Tom Thompson, Terry Shipley, Rob Scott, Alec Bottomley, Steve Kelley, Ian Woods, Gordon Hanley, Ross Hanley, Greg Hanley, Ian "Watto" Watson, Harry Long, Jed and Adrian and Perry(from Stump Cross). To any whose name has been missed I must apologise - there must be others, but so many have been and helped once that I am not sure if I can remember all their names.
Geoffs Great Expectations diagrams
I was trudging up dale, with my wife Bertha, between high banks of snow in the upper reaches of Dentdale beyond Stone House where Arten Gill Beck joins the young River Dee below Arten Gill railway viaduct. We had travelled by train from Keighley that Saturday morning to Garsdale Station and were lucky that the railway was open before the worst of the snow came. Even so it had been an enormous task to achieve this in such extremes of weather conditions. We then had one of the most spectacular walks of my youthful years.
To say that we walked along the road up Garsdale Common, skirting Cote Wold and Hugh's Moss (no it wasn't named after me) to the high point at 1761 feet near Cowgill Head would be only partly true. We rarely saw the road because the snow was so deep that, for most of the time we looked down on to the top of the stone walls. In other places the walls were completely buried. Then we would come to a patch of bare macadam with the snow blown into huge wave-like drifts way above our head. In one place the wind had bored a hole through one of the wave-like drifts and we actually crawled through this natural tunnel in the snow.
One minute it would be perfectly calm and then there would be a sudden gust of wind to blow powdered snow into our faces; then another calm followed by an even stronger wind, which blowing the frozen particles of snow made a tinkling sound on the frozen surface on which we walked. Such great winds are not uncommon in this part of the Dales. At first we had a wonderful view of the snow-covered hills in the grip of this century's most famous snow. But it was winter and all too soon the sun seemed to creep behind banks of cloud and some most amazing and spectacular colour effects were seen both in the sky and reflecting on the snow to give a sight the likes of which I had never seen before - or since.
We saw no human footprints. We were alone in the solitude of this remarkable scene. We did see tracks made by animals before the snow had frozen hard.
As we descended to cross over the Settle-Carlisle railway at Dent Station it was dusk, and we joined the Dentdale road at Lea Yeat. We had taken a long time through the snow drifts and before we reached the youth hostel at Dee Side House it was dark. At the hostel we were greeted by an astonished hostel warden who said that none of those having booked for the night had arrived and he had not expected anyone. We were the only ones to stay that night.
We had a lot to remember of that days' hill walk. As we were descending into Dentdale and walking up to the hostel I was composing some verse in my mind which I kept on reciting to myself and later put to paper. It has remained in my files unused ever since. At the time the words seemed to come naturally to me as I had a theme - which was the true story of one of our many experiences in the big snow of 1947 and I called it "Solitude at Eventide:-
I stood on the edge of a hill and saw below
The wide expanse of fields of snow.
The wind swept tops were bleak and cold
A story of solitude by Nature told.
The wind had swept the snow in drifts
In crests and waves and banks and rifts
Hard and frozen, crisp and flinted
White at first, then bluish tinted.
A mantle of white o'er hill and dale
Sweeping the fells in wind and gale
A lonely sight it was and yet
'Twas lonelier still when the sun had set.
Many tracks in the snow were shown
partly covered by snow just blown
Across the fells by sweeping gust
Of powdered snow o'er frozen crust.
Different stories were told that day
Of creatures who had passed that way
And left their tracks for all to know
From whence they came, to where they go.
As night drew on and dusk was past
The mountain ridge I left at last
Trudging through the drifted snow
Down to the leafless trees below
By frozen fall and icy stream
No sound of birds, no curlews scream
Just the hush of a winter's night
Under that orb of shining light.
The cold clear light went all too soon
A cloud had passed across the moon
A wind began to sweep the screes
Rustling and sighing in the trees.
Then to the sky I fixed my gaze
And saw the moon in yellowish haze
And shining down the dale that might
It cast a strange and eerie light.
A sudden stillness there seemed to be
As through the trees I could see
That now my journey was almost ended
A white washed house with snow was blended.
A lamp was shining to show the way
To all who came and cared to stay.
I hastened on and in I went
The YHA in vale of Dent.
But that is only one of the many experiences in the winter of the "Big Snow". It all started so quietly. After all one expects snow in February. What we didn't expect was that the Dales would be held in the grip of the severest winter in living memory, for seven weeks before the big thaw set in.
February 2nd had been the date of the Club meet at Elbolton Cave. Only a relatively small party including Bertha and me arrived at Cracoe by bus. It was just as well that the meet was not further up the Dale because the Pennine bus service only took us as far as Cracoe, the road beyond had not been cleared of snow that Sunday morning. We set off along the road out of Cracoe and the snow was beginning to form small drifts. We did not think much of it at the time. As we passed a gateway on our aright hand side, a small drift about 18 inches high was building up against the gate post. In the weeks that followed Bertha and I went again that way on our walk to Linton youth hostel. By then that small drift had grown to completely engulf the gateway. On February 2nd we did get to Elbolton Cave and some of us went down.
Another trip on another weekend Bertha and I made our way in the ever increasing severe weather conditions in the Dales in 1947 to Penyghent. However, by the time that we had travelled by buses from Oxenhope to Settle and walked via Stainforth into Silverdale we came to "the end of the road" where the road was blocked by drifts way above our heads. We took to the wide expanse of snow covered Fawcett Moor but had insufficient time to climb Penyghent.
On another weekend we went with friends to Malham and Gordale Scar. This was something quite extraordinary with a huge icicle similar in shape and size to the big stalactite in Gaping Gill's main chamber hanging from the overhang in the gorge. I tried to climb the frozen waterfall but lost my grip and slid down at high speed disappearing from view into a bank of newly fallen soft snow from which I had to be hauled out by my friends.
Of course the local people at Oxenhope where we lived on the cross-roads thought we were daft. When all roads out of Oxenhope were blocked by deep snow we set off to walk to the wilderness of snow on Cock Hill Moor on the open stretch of road (now deep in snow drifts) that led to Hebden Bridge. Buses could only get as far as our corner where a party from the local chapel were waiting hopefully for a bus as they had booked for the pantomime in Bradford. When Bertha and I turned out in our "snow gear" complete with snow goggles we paused to speak to them. They gave us an incredulous look when we told them where we were intending to go. There was literally no-one else in Oxenhope as mad as the Bottomleys.
So far I have only told of the "fun aspect" of the Big Snow (which later became known as "The Great Snow"). But it was no fun to those whose livelihood depended on travelling by road or to the dalesfolk of the farming fraternity. At first, while most roads were blocked the Settle-Carlisle Railway was kept open - with great difficulty. However the forces of nature became too much for mankind as blizzard after blizzard built up the snow quicker than it could be cleared. The line became frozen up. Drifts of 12 feet deep and half a mile long closed the line for several weeks in spite of continued efforts to clear a way through. The worst drift was at Dent Head just north of the north portal of the 2629 yards long Blea Moor tunnel. At Dent Station (the highest main line station in England) the waiting room on the "up-side" of the line became completely hidden within the drifts. Between here and the Arten Gill viaduct a gang of 500 men worked with pick and shovel to clear a way through, but engines and tool vans became engulfed in more and more snow. Snow ploughs became ineffective. One snow plough was driven at 60mpg into the 20 feet deep drift at Dent Head with disastrous results. It was thrown back and derailed.
Other deep drifts built up between the north portal of the 1213 yards long Rise Hill tunnel just north of Dent Station and Garsdale Station as well as between the highest point on the line at Ais Gill (1169 feet above sea level) and the 424 yards long Birkett tunnel which is driven through the Great Pennine Fault at Wharton Fell.
Signalmen stood at their lonely outposts but were helpless as the signal wires and points were frozen solid and in many places lay below 12 and 15 feet of snow.
Getting rid of the snow was a major problem. Three trains each of twenty waggons were used to take snow south to be dumped in less exposed localities.
Of course there was another reason for wanting to keep the line open and that was for the survival of the dalesfolk who lived alongside it. Some became desperate for provisions. Postmen had a particularly hard times struggling through deep snow on foot to deliver mail to farms. The Dalesfolk were accustomed to severe weather in winter and usually had a good stock of essential foods in their larders to see then through the winter. But this was different as the big snow would not yield. Larders became empty and shops were without many of the basic essentials. Some dalesfolk became desperately near to famine. The railway became a very important lifeline. The railways created a relief organisation of supply trains. These trains would stop almost anywhere between stations where Dalesfolk signalled for help. They were handed food from the supply trains (when the trains could get through). In some cases supplies were off-loaded at signal boxes which became distribution points for the farmers to collect their needs. One such signal box was at Selside which also became an extra emergency passenger station where passengers would climb the ballast into the trains.
There was also the problem of feeding the farm stock and the supply trains also carried bales of hay and would stop to unload anywhere they received a signal from a farmer.
The farmers and snow clearing gangs told stories of freezing winds which they had to endure and how ice would form on their faces. To a lesser degree I can vouch for such conditions. On some of our walks, particularly the one from Garsdale over the moorland route to Dent icicles formed on my balaclava helmet.
Then at last after about seven weeks came the big thaw which brought the enormous task of repairing lines, signals and points. Once again trains started to move, at first very cautiously over the repaired sections.
So the Great Snow of 1947 came to an end - but then came heavy flooding in the valleys. I wonder if there will ever be another such big snow in the Dales. I can testify to authenticity at what I have written because I was there to see it at weekends. I'll never forget it!
The only poor photographs I could get were using my father's pre-Great War camera (bellows type) and films and developing techniques have much improved since 1947.
There are in fact 4 resurgences for water originating from the Gouffre Padirac (Saint-Georges, La Finou, Les Lombards, Le Gourguet), and until recently most of the work had been on the more spectacular Saint-Georges rising.
The through trip involved a total of 10.5km of passage consisting of 7.5km dry caving and 3km diving. The diver entered the Gouffre Padirac on Friday morning and exited on the Sunday evening. As with most cave diving trips of this nature, his trip involved a large support team (25 cavers and 12 divers from the FFESSM). He passed the first 8 sumps accompanied by other divers then dived the remaining 14 solo (deepest sump was 40m deep and 320m long).
The Gouffre Padirac was first explored by Martel in 1889, and is one of the most important tourist attractions in France, visited by about 400,000 people per year.
What is possibly a new deepest shaft in the world has been found on Mount Kanin in the Julian Alps on the border between Slovenia and Italy. The entrance was found in August 1996 and was descended to minus 250m. The explorers returned in October and bottomed the cave at a depth of 643m in a 15 hour trip. About 300m down the shaft the rope starts to hang away from the walls not touching it again until 115m lower still, from there the rope runs close to the wall all the way to the shaft bottom. The shaft ends in a gravel and mud choke althought there is a possible way on through a window in the side of the shaft. The shaft has not yet been accurately surveyed and all depths are estimates based on rope lengths. However the main vertical drop must be more than 500m which would make this a new world record for an underground shaft. The name of the new cave and shaft have still to be agreed.
It had been established that the water from Malham Tarn (Malham Water) disappearing at Malham Sinks is next seen emerging at Airehead Springs (not at Malham Cove as some of the non-caving public believe). Experiments had revealed that it took 90 minutes for water to pass underground to Airehead Springs. The water which sinks at Smelt Mill Sinks and emerging at the foot of Malham Cove as Malham Beck is underground for 130 minutes.
At the turn of the century two digs were attempted at Malham Tarn Sinks. One was by the British Association and ended at a depth of 12 feet. The other by the Yorkshire Ramblers Club ended at a depth of 18 feet. It was not until 1931 that the Craven Pothole Club started to give the Malham Sinks area some considerable attention. A heap of stones some 150 yards below the Tarn Sinks in the dry valley became a point of great interest and intrigue at a CPC survey meet in 1931. The late Arnold Waterfall (the Club's longest serving Secretary) was very impressed and made many trips to the area on his own as well as with other Club members. The various places where water sinks were recorded.
The next dig was a CPC venture. At a Club meet early in 1946 the various sinks were examined and a dig was started by Bill and James Spencer and Eric Light (who became known in the Club as the "Queensbury Lads"). Other Club members were attracted to the venture. With the consent of the farmer an enthusiastic dig was under way. At first (as is often the case with new ventures) there was plenty of support. However this soon dwindled and the "Queensbury Lads" claimed the dig as their own, spending their weekends removing their "spoil" to reveal a natural shaft. To a depth of 27 feet it was timbered up. Then a problem was encountered. After weeks of bringing out fault debris it started to shutter under an arch in the east wall. After this had happened several times the "Queensbury Lads" knew that they were beaten by the forces of nature and called a halt. Water disappearing under the loose debris below the arch. It appeared that it would mean sinking a parallel shaft to the east with no guarantee that it would be successful. The venture came to an end.
However, Arnold Waterfall was obsessed with solving the mystery of the underground courses between the various sinks and Malham Cove and the rising at Airehead Springs. At the 1947 Club Annual Dinner a photograph was shown entitled (by Arnold) "The Next Malham Dig" but no one was interested, probably due to the failure of the 1946 dig. Arnold didn't abandon his study of the area. In 1947 at the time of the thaw at the end of the "big snow" when the Dales had been covered by several feet of snow, the flood water in the Malham Sinks area was seen to sink at another area of loose surface stones.
Arnold waited until 1948 before daring again to suggest his proposed site of another Malham dig. To his surprise there was a renewed interest. The following Sunday Arnold accompanied by Dennis Brindle and two of the first intake of new members after the war (Brian Hartley and Bill Farrow) went to inspect Arnold's new idea for a dig. Sods were removed around the edge of the area of surface stones and behold there is was: the rim of a natural pot-hole filled with rock debris. Arnold predicted that this would be "the big one". A full Club meet was called and there was immediate enthusiasm for this new venture. I can vouch for the abundance of activity at the CPC's new pot for I was there with my wife and was converted to being a regular digger, week after week.
It should be realised that only Arnold Waterfall had his own transport (and old Austin 10 saloon) the back seat of which was always full of pot-hole gear including wooden runged ladders. Others came by bicycle or bus to Malham and walked up to our newly found pot. It was a time and money consuming trip for me from Oxenhope: bus to Keighley, bus to Skipton, bus to Malham and the uphill walk to the dig, before we could contribute to the dig. Dennis Brindle came from Nelson, Edgar Wharton from Burnley - members came far and wide to help at the dig including: Alf Birkett from Bradford, Tom Jones and Geof Lake from Shipley, Harry Sanderson from Pudsey, "The Lads" from Queensbury; Bob Crunden, Hilton Ackroyd, Philip Tyas, Charlie Whiteoak, Albert Smith, Stan Baldwin and Tim Wood from Keighley. Those from Skipton included: Edgar Smith, Kenneth Adams, Tom Austin, Brian Hartley, Bill Farrow, Arnold and Sydney Waterfall, while I travelled from Oxenhope to mention but a few. Many of these were the Club's pre-war pioneers.
With the farmer's permission we started to remove glacial debris from "the big one" and at that first day's effort we worked at a feverish pace. There was much laughter and a lot of fanciful thinking. One member offered his suggestion as to what sort of boat or raft we should construct to cross the great lake which some thought that we would eventually encounter once we had reached the horizontal passage heading in a southerly direction. The one thing that we did correctly envisage was that we would have to face up to a very deep dig.
It was a long story of endeavour with gradually diminishing support which was largely due to the remoteness of the dig. Almost everyone taking part had no private transport. Hours were spent travelling from home to the dig and possibly more significantly, at the end of a day's digging when we were tired, the journey home seemed to be even longer. Another thing that sapped our enthusiasm was bad weather. If it came on to rain we felt more than ever, the bleakness of the place. There was no shelter and many a packed lunch was eaten crouching under a cycle cape serving as a mini tent against the nearby wall. The day that it began to snow and there were only three or four who had turned up, I for one began to wonder it if was worth all the effort and discomfort. As it turned out it was not worth the time and effort spent. However we never needed to make a boat. We didn't find the hoped for cave passage or the big lake which is probably mythical anyway. Club member John Cordingley and his diving colleagues have since learnt more by underwater exploration from the Malham Cove end. The full account of the descent, of what was encountered in way of encouragement as well as difficulty and disappointment will have to wait for another article in a later Record. Sufficient to say this however: that we created a pot over 100 feet deep. We descend a 100ft rope ladder and then scrambled further down to the working area.
Once more we were beaten by the forces of nature. One week we would dig out many buckets of glacial clay (an energy draining activity) only to find when we returned the following week more debris had shuttered in from what appeared to be a parallel shaft. The bucket was a large one (probably 2'6" deep and two feet in diameter) and was hauled out with similar equipment to that used, in those days, at Gaping Gill - an old winch, petrol engine and steel cable. Steel girders were placed across the pot and left in situ throughout the project. Each week before leaving we put a "lid" over the pot resting on the girders as a safety precaution against anyone or any sheep falling down. The dig had to be abandoned as we could not cope with the weekly movement of clay and rock into the cavity dug out. The pot was named after the instigator of the dig: "Waterfall's Folly" - and was later filled in for sake of safety of unsuspecting walkers.
At this time in the history of the Club two members who joined at the same time in 1945: Bob Crunden and myself were apt to compose verse (probably a real poet would have called it doggerel). Bob's were composed on the theme of well known folk songs such as "Clementine" and "There is a Tavern in the Town". These were sung by Bob at successive Annual Dinners and caused a riot of laughter. Mine were written as parody on well known poems or writings by the Masters (e.g. Kipling, Wordsworth, Browning, Grey, Shakespeare etc.).
With the Malham Dig being the topic of conversation and before John Cordingley and others had started cave diving under Malham Cove I let some wishful thinking get the better of me in the following parody on the poem: "The Burial of Sir John Moor at Coruna" by Charles Wolfe. Submitted to the Editor of the day, Albert Mitchell for my series "Tales from the Masters" however it was too late for inclusion in the magazine of that year and it has remained in my files ever since. As I wrote eight parodies under the general heading of "Tales from the Masters", the following is:-
There's a breathless hush in the cave to-night,
While members stare amazed.
And silently they see the sight
Quite stupefied and dazed.
Not a word is spoken, not a victor's song
And there's no word of praise
For as they know, they may be wrong
Inspite of hopes they raise.
The charge was set, the fuse beside
The deafening roar it came
And as the noise and dust subside
They see what's brought them fame.
A mighty abyss is now revealed
A bottomless pit is there
No longer its secrets are concealed
Expectancy fills the air.
And even as they stand and gaze
Inside that lonely chamber
Through the watery mist and haze
They silently remember
The months of toil and labour gone,
In digging that great hole,
There's satisfaction, a job well done,
At last they've reached their goal.
But all's not well, they seem afraid
And their hopes now dwindle
Oh what a price they must have paid!
For where is Dennis Brindle?
Ahead he'd gone alone that day
Into a crevasse deep
With dynamite to blast the way
Through which they'd hoped to creep.
And now they stand in silent fear,
Inside that awful place
Would Dennis every reappear
And show his muddy face.
But while they stand and dare not move,
And fret about their friend
A face appears 'neath Malham Cove,
He's found the other end.
It was probably the disappointment of finding that the best decorated cave in a valley in which I had explored almost every hole at the age of 13 could only be visited by cave divers (The China Shop, Boreham Cave, Littondale). This had made me decide that cave diving was the next step forward after normal dry caving.
However early contact with people such as Ian Plant, Geoff Yeadon, Oliver Statham and Ian Watson made me realise that there was a bit more to the sport than meets the eye. Finally after 21 years of "dry" caving I enroled in the local diving club to learn the "art" of open water diving. When I enroled in the local club I explained that I wanted to reach a level of "autonomous diver" ie Level II, although I didn't say why at the time. So 6 months later and after weekly and often biweekly training sessions, I reached the required level to take part in a training meet organised by the local cave diving committee. The target was La source de Doubs, in the French Jura. However after a week of diluvian conditions and much time playing what-about, the meet was cancelled due to too much water! Pretty good for a diving meet. So when 4 months later I was invited to take part in a course at Châtillion-sur-Seine, and Villers sur Saulnot, I jumped at the chance.
I should at this point note that I am learning to dive in France and that although generally open water diving in France is very similar to the UK, cave diving techniques differ in a few fundamental ways: two back mounted cylinders not side mounted, thin guide lines (1.5-3mm dia.), wire cutters not diving knives and a 1/5th rule of air usage to increase security margins from the old 1/3rds rule. Some of these differences are due to the fact that sumps dived here are generally larger and clearer than their UK counterparts, and also that there have been more cave diving deaths here than in the UK (3 last year alone).
When we arrived at the "Hotel de la Montagne" at Châtillion we were warmly greeted by the other divers and the family that run the hotel. The following day consisted of a presentation of cave diving (other members of the group were all diving instructors from as far away as Reims, and Neuchâtel, but had no caving experience). It seems that most cave divers in France are open water divers first then start cave diving, unlike the UK where it is normally cavers who learn to dive.
Preparation of cave diving material followed in the hotel garage. As a result of numerous night dives with a local cave diver and discussions with John Cordingley, I was well prepared and my equipment was considered suitable. All except the emergency line reel made to UK Cave Diving Group specs - 15m of 3mm cord was considered too short, thinner and 35m longer I was told!
We kitted up in the car park adjacent to the Source de la Diouix, the water was crystal clear and almost blue. This resurgence had a reputation for remaining clear no matter how many divers pass through. Attempts to remove this first sump had been carried out in the previous few months by the use of very powerful pumps to empty the resurgence pool and hence make the cave accessible to "dry" cavers, however the sump had since refilled. We were told that as a result of this work the water level was dropped by 7m but that enough had remained to leave the passage still sumped and hence still accessible only to divers. So by a piece of quick thinking they excavated a lot of material just in the entrance and discovered a number of Roman objects including a fine statue (justification of all the money spent on the work?).
The first pair of our divers entered the cave (trainee and instructor) and returned after 10 minutes to report that although on the trip in, the water had been clear, as soon as they turned around, the visibility was 15cm and there was a "taste" of petrol in the water. I entered with the second instructor to find that visibility had dropped to about 10cm - definitely not a beginners trip so we quickly returned to surface. It is apparent the excavations and pumping operations have totally ruined what was an excellent diving site, by disturbing the distribution of the sediment in the entrance and allowing petrol to seep into the cave (other cave divers be warned!). Short though it was, I enjoyed every minute of it and considered myself fortunate to have been one of the people to get in to the resurgence that day.
So plan A hadn't worked (does it ever?) so on to plan B, and a long drive down towards Montbèlliard, from Châtillion. Directly to La Forge d'Isidore (Tel.0384274394) at Villers sur Saulnot, described as a ferme-auberge, they have recently built a gîte d'ètape/cavers hostel and are extremely welcoming to cavers with the advantage that the 3.5km long Grotte de la Baume (Gonvillars), is only a 20 minute walk from the hostel.
The program included a presentation of diving on mixed gases and closed circuit systems (rebreathers), followed by an excellent and inexpensive meal in the auberge.
It was decided that a small group of us would explore the Grotte de la Baume in the morning whilst the others dived the Resurgence de Lougres (5km away). So after a short trip down this easy beginners cave, we went round to the resurgence and kitted-up. No crystal clear pool this time, it was more like a limpid earth brown pool enclosed by trees. After a few minutes it was my turn. Down to the bottom of the pool and along the guide line, following the instructor finning ahead of me. We continued to -24m and went only 100m in to the cave before it was time to turn around and for me to lead the way. Visibility was reasonably good away from the entrance - about 1m. So this time I could see a lot more, the bedding plane nature of the passage, the gravel floor, the short "chimney" to "climb", and finally daylight.
So that was the end of my "baptême de plongèe souterraine". We all returned to the gite and wolfed down an enormous meal, during the course of which those that had not already been in the Grotte de la Baume that morning decided that they would like to visit it before leaving to return home. A half hour later we were all stomping down the fine streamway (for most people this was their first real caving trip), and after swimming, and climbing in various corners we exited prior to the long drive home.
I enjoyed the diving immensely but was glad that I had taken plenty of time open water training prior to doing it. With all the double security and personal equipment required it must be about as near to space walking as I will ever get! Someone said to one instructor that just about the only thing that he didn't have in double was a mask, and he promptly got one out of his stabilising jacket pocket where it was hidden.
If you're thinking of getting involved in cave diving do plenty of open water diving first to build up confidence/experience then contact some of our club's experienced divers.
Old Dog Goes Down Hole --- Learns New Tricks? Ever since I first read about them, as a pre-teenager or "boy" as we were called in those far off days, I have been interested in caves and cave formations, stalagmites stalactites etc.
As a teenager I first got to see them "in the flesh" on a cycling trip which included the "show" caves at Cheddar. I have often visited "show" caves since then, where the greatest personal risk was usually from irritation at the rubbish some of the guides dish out.
I never actually went caving or pot-holing. I was sure that I didn't have the nerve, and I would suffer panic attacks from claustrophobia. Reading books about the narrow passages, low crawls and flat out squirms needed to get into many caves, and more importantly back out again, put me right off. Dank, dirty, dark, and dangerous. No thanks, not me! I would stick with the show caves and arm-chair caving.
Then my son Aidan, and later my daughter Colette, took up real caving. For several years they tried to get me to have a go. This year they finally succeeded. I was talked into taking my grandson Clayton Clarke to the winch meet at Gaping Gill, to camp for a week and maybe try going down on the winch myself.
They told me to wear my grottiest old clothes and wellies with steel toecaps, and a waterproof top. They stuck a hard-hat on my head, with a little headlight on it and a huge battery on my waist. They marched me onto a gantry with a solid feeling floor. They put me into a chair which looked and felt more like a cage, locked a steel bar across my front to prevent me escaping, and a big strap between my legs locked on with a "crab" or karabiner. (Cavers apparently share with rock climbers a liking for crabs in their crotches.) The chair was suspended on two steel cables, with a third one as a guide wire.
Then someone took the floor away, and down I went. Rock faces covered in ferns and mosses but hard as iron underneath, whizzed past a few inches away from my knees. That's OK., no-one needs more than an inch, they had said. It got darker, and the plants petered out. Just as the main cylindrical shaft became visible, a dark, grey, wet, pock-marked hole, a small waterfall somewhere on one side started to hose me down. I was glad of that waterproof. No sooner had my eyes adjusted to the darkness and a small triangular ledge with a forlorn pop bottle rushed past, than suddenly I could see nothing. Just a vast blackness. Then below me I saw several searchlights shining straight in my eyes. Almost before I could make out that they were headlights on the helpers and other visitors, the chair stopped and I was being released.
Once my eyes were properly adjusted to the dim light, I could just make out an enormous cavern looming over me, with a small patch of daylight glimmering way above. Three water falls cascaded down one side; the little one which had hosed me down, another similar closer to the wall, and 30 yards away a much bigger one where the beck which normally runs straight down the hole had been diverted to. Good idea that.
After the usual "tourist" trip around the main chamber, Aidan took Clayton and me off for a little "walk", with Roy Tempest and his son David. A bit of a scramble up some boulders, and easy walking through a water-worn tunnel in the solid rock. When it got lower, we had to stoop; then onto all fours. After a while it was too low for this, so it was down onto the belly and crawl. After ages, we came to the low bit. A narrow ridge of rock came down so low that we had to squeeze to get under it. Once through, and standing upright again, Aidan says casually "That is called the portcullis." This was one of the bits I had read about, and decided that I would never even attempt! And we still had to go back the same way.
He dragged us on further, through Sand Cavern and on towards Stream Cavern. We stopped to photograph some fine stalactites etc. in the Great Fissure, and then my light went out! Back through the whole lot, Portcullis and all, with Roy behind me with a light, and Clayton and David racing away in front with their lights. It encourages you to keep up. Into the Main Cavern, and up into the daylight on the winch.
I now knew that I could manage some of the less attractive bits of caving, but I was not yet hooked.
The next time down, Colette took me and another friend to see Glover's Chamber. First I had to promise that I would not reveal its whereabouts to anyone. It is too fragile to take many visitors, they said. They were not kidding! After a very tight squeeze (I must try slimming a bit) we entered a tiny chamber crammed with thousands of straw stalactites, some of them over two feet long, and a few millimetres thick, pure white, suspended over a bed of the most oleaginous mud you could wish to wallow in. Scattered amongst the straws were some which had started to fatten up into more conventional 'tites, and several fantastic helictites, i.e. stalactites which have no sense of gravity and grow every which-way. It was a wonderful sight, and I was hooked!
I had one more trip down the hole that week, and used up the rest of my film in Old East Passage and Mud Hall. When I came up this time the tourists waiting for their turn on the winch recoiled in disgust at the mud oozing from me. I assured them that it was optional, but I am not sure if they believed me.
So, there it is. This old dog went down a hole and came up covered in mud with a brand new hobby. I can't wait to get some gear together and get down another hole. Mud and all.
Seán Karley (neophyte troglodyte)
Free to a good home. Pile of European Space Agency Magazines and Pamphlets. Contact Geoff Workman if you are interested.
I found a total of 73 species of plants. I limited my recording area to the actual pot and the beck valley nearby, as far upstream as the last tent. I ignored the moor itself, although in fact I did not see anything there which was not also present in the valley. I only recorded "vascular" plants, i.e. flowering plants, ferns etc., excluding mosses etc. Quite a few of them were not in flower, just to make life difficult for me, but I am confident of the identification of most of them.
The first list is of plants seen either in the actual pot,. or close to it, downstream from the booking tent:-
Blechnum spicant Hard Fern
Phyllitis scolopendrium Hart's-tongue Fern
Asplenium trichomanes Maidenhair Spleenwort fern
Athyrium filix-femina Lady Fern
Cystopteris fragilis Brittle Bladder-fern
Dryopteris filix-mas Male Fern
Dryopteris dilatata Broad Buckler-fern
Polystichum aculeatum Hard Shield-fern
Flowering plants :
Ranunculus auricomus Goldilocks Buttercup
Arabis hirsuta Hairy Rockcress
Geranium robertianum Herb Robert
Oxalis acetosella Wood-sorrel
Trifolium repens White Clover
Filipendula ulmaria Meadow-sweet
Rubus fruticosus Blackberry
Potentilla reptans Creeping Cinquefoil
Fragaria vesca Wild Strawberry
Geum urbanum Wood Avens
Alchemilla xanthochlora Intermediate Lady's-mantle
Sorbus aucuparia Rowan
Epilobium montanum Broad-leaved Willowherb
Epilobium brunnescens New Zealand Willowherb
Chamerion angustifolium Rosebay Willowherb
Heracleum sphondylium Hogweed
Calluna vulgaris Heather
Vaccinium myrtillus Bilberry
Galium saxatile Heath Bedstraw
Lonicera periclymenum Honeysuckle
Tussilago farfara Coltsfoot
Leontodon autumnalis Autumn Hawkbit
Taraxacum officinale Common Dandelion
Juncus squarrosus Heath Rush
Juncus effusus Soft Rush
Juncus conglomeratus Compact Rush
Dactylis glomerata Cock's-foot grass
Agrostis capillaris Common Bent grass
Total at the pot :- 36 species
The following plants were seen in the beck area, below the level of the moor, but upstream from the booking tent. Some at least of these will no doubt be found near to or in the pot with closer study.:
One horsetail :
Equisetum palustre Marsh Horsetail
Ranunculus repens Creeping Buttercup
Ranunculus flammula Lesser Spearwort
Cardamine pratensis Lady's Smock
Viola reichenbachiana Early Dog violet
Cerastium fontanum Common Mouse-ear
Cerastium glomeratum Sticky Mouse-ear
Stellaria media Common Chickweed
Sagina procumbens Procumbent Pearlwort
Sagina nodosa Knotted Pearlwort
Linum catharticum Fairy Flax
Alchemilla filicaulis vestita Common Lady's-mantle
Rumex acetosella Sheep's Sorrel
Lysimachia nummularia Creeping-Jenny
Veronica serpyllifolia Thyme-leaved Speedwell
Euphrasia officinalis Eyebright
Thymus praecox arcticus Wild Thyme
Ajuga reptans Bugle
Plantago lanceolata Ribwort Plantain
Galium palustre Marsh Bedstraw
Bellis perennis Daisy
Achillea millefolium Yarrow
Cirsium vulgare Spear Thistle
Cirsium palustre Marsh Thistle
Hieracium aggregate Hawkweeds
Crepis capillaris Smooth Hawk's-beard
Triglochin palustris Marsh Arrowgrass
Juncus articulatus Jointed Rush
Luzula campestris Field Woodrush
Carex viridula oedocarpa Common Yellow Sedge
Carex panicea Carnation Sedge
Lolium perenne Perennial Rye-grass
Cynosurus cristatus Crested Dog's-tail grass
Holcus lanatus Yorkshire Fog grass
Aira praecox Early Hair-grass
Anthoxanthum odoratum Sweet Vernal-grass
Nardus stricta Mat-grass
Total in the beck valley, above the pot :- 37 species
One species which I was particularly asked about, outside the area was at Slit Pot. This turned out to be :-
Trifolium medium Zigzag Clover
Visually this was the most attractive plant seen in the area, with large red clover heads. It was dangerously positioned at the top of the limestone bed over the pot, and quite un-approachable for a solo novice without gear. I had to fish with a bit of rusty wire to get some to check it!
I have checked this list with Howard Beck, who agrees with it. I am sure that there are other species to be seen at GG, especially earlier in the season. If you know of any others which should be on the list, please let me know. If you want to know more about any other plants you see, I will try to help.
(SSB - Soft Southern Botanist)
I recently had the chance to see some excellent old photographs of the Craven taken in the 1950s. These had been picked up by a local dales photographer at a car boot sale for a few pounds. His interest in them was only slight although he had done some research on them to find out which club they came from.
This leads me to a point that I would like to make. We as members of the Craven Pothole Club are very fortunate to have an excellent club library (probably one of the best collections in the country) maintained by a librarian who has dedicated many years work to this collection. It seemed a great shame to me to find old club documents in the hands of a person who does not know their historical value to our club. These kinds of documents should have been placed in the library to enhance the historical records of the exploits of such folk as Albert Mitchell, Bill Spence, the Waterfall brothers, etc.
So perhaps some of our more senior members should think to the future, if you don't want to see your priceless records of our club's famous history getting sold off at such venues as car boot sales by well meaning though non caving relatives, why not donate them to the club library for future generations to see and be inspired by.
(or put a specific codicil in your will stating that your caving books, photographs, equipment, etc, should be donated to the Club - Ed)
The YRC also reported on their Gaping Gill Meet.
"1946 Gaping Gill August 2nd to 6th. Owing to the exertions of Fred Booth, Armstrong and Eddison the tackle was overhauled and refitted. The head-gear was erected and the dam made with assistance the weekend before the Bank Holiday. We suffered from rain and cloud night and morning but the days were pleasant. Everyone had to bring his own food. Sixteen were in camp; Chubb and others came for the day but passers-by were very, very few. South Passage was done thoroughly on the Sunday, but though a crowd who knew little of the cavern were put in first, they stumbled upon nothing new. Conditions prevented a real examination of the new entrance through Disappointment Pot."
Other major discoveries being reported included Ogof-yr-Ffynnon Ddu:- "August 1946. Messrs Nixon and Harvey sank a 15ft shaft above the rising and found a half-mile passage carrying a swift stream and a dry upper system with very fine stalactites." However no details are given of the newly discovered Notts Pot and only scant description of Disappointment, Grange Rigg, Simpson's Pot and many major extensions to existing systems.
The newly established Journal "Cave Science" published by the British Speleological Association carried detailed descriptions of the exploration of Mossdale Caverns, Lancaster Hole and Oxford Hole (now Pot) which led into Easegill.
The UBSS Proceedings report on the discovery of Longwood Swallet whilst the Wessex reported on the discovery of Cuckoo Cleeves. The latter also mentioned that drilling and blasting were being used in an attempt to extend the cave even further.
The Wessex seemed to be pre-occupied with establishing their new headquarters.
"Most members will be aware that the club has lost the use of the "Grange" as HQ. G Platten has kindly given us a small hut now at Springfield(Chewton Mendip). This hut will be erected on a more suitable site in the near future, and it is hoped to obtain a larger hut so that the club may possess a permanent headquarters on Mendip.....by mid-46 the new hut had been erected at Eastwater.....members will be interested to know that after a protracted search we have at last been successful in securing a permanent headquarters. Conveniently located at "Beechbarrow".....the building consists of a modern stable, is clean, dry and in good repair."
The WCC also reported "A full Swildon's was run on Sunday June 30th; 13 people attended and 6 of these with the aid of a 'Landor' pump and service respirator, passed the sump to Swildon's 2"
The Trou de Glaz (which was visited by CPC last Summer) was reported as both seventh deepest in the world by the YRC (1401ft) and deepest in the world (2159ft) by the BSA.
BSA Cave Science Vol 1 Nos 1 and 2, 1947
Proceedings of the University of Bristol Spelaeological Society Vol 15 No 3, 1946
Wessex Cave Club Circulars Vol 1 New Series Nos 1 to 9, 1946-47
Journal of the Yorkshire Ramblers Club Vol 7 No 24, 1947
The full list of nominations is given below. Some are obviously special to the person who nominated them whilst others are more generally popular. The favourite book was The Darkness Beckons by Martyn Farr which received six out of a possible seven votes. This was followed by A Gemmel and JO Myers (Underground Adventure), D Heap (Potholing Beneath the Northern Pennines) and H Tazieff (Caves of Adventure) all with four votes. With three votes there was Jim Eyre's The Cave Explorers and Tony Waltham's Caves and Limestones of NW England. The only other nominations to receive more than one vote were N Casteret (Ten Years Under the Earth), P Chevalier (Subterranean Climbers), J Lovelock (Life and Death Underground) and D Robinson (Know the Game - Potholing and Caving).
It may be a reflection on the people who replied but two things struck me about the choice of books; their age with very few from the '90s and many from the 50's, and the number about caving outside Britain. There are some of the real classics of British caving but many of the books are about large, presumably inspiring, caves from around the world.
If anyone else wishes to let me have further nominations then I will be quite happy to update the list in a future Record.
Balcombe,FG et al(Ed) Cave Diving - The Cave Diving Group Manual Mendip Publishing, Castle Cary, 1990
Beck,H Gaping Gill - 150 years of exploration Robert Hale, London, 1984
Bonnington,C Dead Man's Handshake in Quest for Adventure pp399 to 413, Hodder and Stoughton, London, 1981
Brook,D et al Northern Caves Dalesman Books, Clapham, various volumes and dates
Brucker,RW & RA Watson The Longest Cave Albert A Knopf, New York, 1976
Cadoux,J One Thousand Metres Down - A journey to the starless river George Allen & Unwin, London 1957 (Originally published in French as Operation -1000 in 1955)
Casteret,N Ten Years Under the Earth JM Dent & Sons, London, 1939 (Originally published in French as Dix ans sous terre in 1933)
Casteret,N The Descent of the Pierre Saint-Martin JM Dent & Sons, London, 1955 (originally published in French as Trente ans sous terre in 1954)
Chevalier,P Subterranean Climbers - Twelve years in the world's deepest chasm Faber & Faber, London, 1951 (Originally published in French as Escalades Souterraines in 1951)
Coase,A and D Judson Dan Yr Ogof Transactions BCRA Vol4 Nos1&2, 1977
Coe,R Birks Fell Cave Extension CPC Journal Vol4 No2 pp111-119, 1968
Courbon,P et al Atlas of the Great Caves of the World Cave Books, St Louis, 1989 (Originally published in French as Atlas des grandes gouffres du monde in 1986)
Cousteau,J The Silent World Hamish Hamilton, London,1952
Cullingford,CHD (Ed) British Caving - An introduction to speleology Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1953
Davies,P (Ed) Pictorial History of Swildon's Hole Wessex Cave Club, Priddy, 1975
Eyre,J The Cave Explorers The Stalactite Press, Calgary, 1981
Eyre,J The Ease Gill System BCRA Speleo-History Series No 1, 1989
Eyre,J & J Frankland Race against time Lyon Equipment, Dent, 1988
Farr,M The Darkness Beckons - The history and development of cave diving Diadem Books, London, 1991 (2nd Edition)
Frankland,J The Los Tayos Expedition Caving International No1 pp11 to 17, 1978
Franke,HW Wilderness Under the Earth Lutterworth Press, London, 1958 (Originally published in german as Wildnis Unter Der Erde in 1956)
Gemmell,A & JO Myers Underground Adventure Dalesman, Clapham, 1952
Heap,D Potholing: Beneath the Northern Pennines Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1964
Judson,D Ghar Parau Cassell, London, 1973
Lovelock,J Life and death Underground G Bell & Sons, London 1963
Marbach,G & JL Rocourt Techniques de la Spèlèologie Alpine TSA, Choranche, 1980
Meredith,M et al Giant Caves of Borneo Tropical Press Sdn Bhd, Kuala Lumpur, 1992
Mitchell,A Yorkshire Caves & Potholes (2 Volumes) Craven Herald, Skipton, 1951
Monico,P (Ed) ULSA Explorations Journal II University of Leeds Speleologiacl Association, Leeds, 1989
Murray,RK & RW Brooker Trapped GP Putnam's Sons, New York, 1979
Palmer,R Deep into Blue Holes Unwin Hyman Ltd, London, 1989
Pearce,K The 1967 Expedition to the Gouffre Berger BSA Monograph/Report, 14 Pages, Undated
Robinson,D Know the Game - Potholing & Caving EP Publishers, 1967
Rose,D & R Gregson Beneath the Mountains - Exploring the deep caves of Asturias Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1987
Simpson,E (Ed) Caves and Caving (BSA) Vol1 No1, 1937
Taylor,MR (Ed) Lechuguilla - Jewel of the Underground Speleo Projects, Basle, 1991
Tazieff,H Caves of Adventure Hamish Hamilton, London, 1953 (Originally published in French as Le Gouffre de la Pierre Saint-Martin in 1952)
Thines,G L'evolution regressive des poisons cavernicoles et abyssaux Mason et Cie, Paris, 1969
Waltham,AC The World of Caves Orbis, London, 1976
Waltham,AC (Ed) Limestones & Caves of North-West England David & Charles, Newton Abbott, 1974
Yeadon,G The Gaping Gill to Ingleborough Cave Connection Caves and caving (BCRA) No21 pp2 to 6, 1983
Yeandle,D Langcliffe Pot - Gasson's Series ULSA Review No8 pp15 to 19, 1971
Yorkshire Ramblers Club Journals These started in 1899.
Whilst I have not checked with the Librarian I believe that most, although not all, of the above will be in the Club Library and therefore available for loan to members.
They enter the underground via an extinct volcano (smoking, of course)
"We're down 100 miles - you'd better pull up"
"It isn't safe for a man to be alone down here"
TOXIC GAS appears at -110 miles......
"It's too late to turn back now"
"We may never find water again. We've only a chance in a thousand"
Shots of ladder climbing at -240 miles. The CYCLOTRAM follows.....
"There! (a puddle - is it water? - no it's)..OIL!!"
Running water is heard - "behind that wall - it could be an underground stream!"
They break through - hiss - it's steam.....
"We've gotten nowhere - deeper and deeper into nowhere"
They travel upwards, through a lake at -1100 miles.
"Here doc, how about this fish - it's a rare species"
"We can build a new life here"
They continue to explore the passage, followed by the CYCLOTRAM, and then THE PASSAGE FORKS......great consternation.."Which way shall we go? We will have to explore BOTH channels"
Having climbed a polyprop. rope, it breaks....
At -1640 miles, "Look - it's like daylight!" and they ascend a ramp to emerge on a brightly-lit ledge facing a huge waterfall. "A vast and radiant cavern. That's not sand - it's volcanic ash."
They explore the wonderful underground lake, complete with beach, sand and smoking volcanoes in the background.
But then, upon checking their experiment animals they discover "All animals born here are STERILE. The human race cannot reproduce itself in this underground region!"
The distant volcano begins to erupt. There is thunder, lightening, molten lava and storm waves. The floor gives way and the CYCLOTRAM gets pulled beneath the lake, to a depth of -2500 miles "Maximum reading recordable". It then rises at about 1 mile per second to surface on Earth, opposite a tropical island.
Many sequences were shot in Carlsbad Caverns, using real cavers. Mixed with studio shots and a really well-informed script (!) and inspirational actors (!!) the film is unmissable. Have a hankie ready. Most of the quotes, however, ARE applicable to British caves/cavers - aren't they?
Any right-minded caver would avoid caving politics like the plague but unfortunately the ensuing apathy then leaves the situation wide open to manipulation by the zealous few. Such is the case with national caving politics.
Attempts over the last few years to restructure the NCA and make it more democratic have resulted in the creation of a monstrous bureaucracy which threatens to become more monstrous and bureaucratic in the future. I am afraid we have been party to this situation by standing on the sidelines, not wanting to get too involved in case it sucked us in too. However, enough is enough and growing concern this year fuelled by a debacle over the ballot on AGM Constitutional amendments together with the frustration experienced by our Treasurer in processing financial claims prompted a call for a Special General Meeting of the CNCC which was held on 7 December 1996.
A lengthy debate and discussion took place out of which the collective feeling (if not unanimous) was that changing the NCA structure to one of individual and club membership was too bureaucratic, unnecessary and open to manipulation. As a consequence, the meeting passed the following resolution unanimously:
"This meeting has no confidence in the current NCA structure. The member clubs of the CNCC propose that the CNCC Treasurer's model for financing and structuring the NCA be expanded upon and presented to the NCA as being the desired method of financing and structuring the NCA."
The general feeling of the meeting was that member clubs of CNCC did not wish to be individual member clubs of NCA and that they would be quite happy being represented at national level through CNCC representation.
Quite clearly the message was that the Clubs and individuals had little enthusiasm for politics particularly at the National level and even to some extent at regional level as one representative took us to task for calling the SGM in the first place!
The Treasurer's model is a reversion to the old style structure of the NCA with regional councils having the "clout" but also encompassing some of the better points of the new structure. Whether or not there will be any acceptance of this proposal is debatable but an open meeting has been called on 4 January 1997 for all interested parties nationally to "air the subject". By the time you read this it may well have been a bloodbath so expect the next report to be written in red! It's at times like these when caving politics almost starts to stir the juices of excitement such as when finding some new cave or dangling down a Jib-sized shaft - I don't think!
I continue to serve.
The NCA Open Structure Committee Meeting took place on 4 January 1997 and started lukewarm with a detailed agenda which got progressively more muddled as the day wore on. The CNCC proposed model structure had received limited circulation due to the short time interval in which to produce it. A number of copies were circulated at the meeting and as more representatives read the document there was a distinct shift and polarising of views as the implications sank in. Phil Parker (CNCC representative on the National Council and the Structure Committee) handed me his resignation from both positions towards the end of the morning. Lunch break allowed more people to read our proposal and the re-convened meeting debated it with clearly polarised opinions.
The Structure Committee representatives were clearly aghast, likening the move as back to the bad old days. There was some support particularly from the Welsh and Wessex CC although most seemed pretty wary of embracing the ideas whole-heartedly. As might be expected the proposition was absorbed in the general run of things with arguments against pushing ahead too quickly and allowing time for the ideas to be digested.
Looking at the rules, we realise we could push the recommended changes into this year's AGM timescale for March and hope to keep a hot potato burning.
Russell Myers, Chairman CNCC and CPC
Here are details of the next international speleological congress, which will take place at La Chaux-de-Fonds (Neuchâtel, Swiss Jura) between 10-17 August, 1997. This is the first time that this conference takes place relatively close to the UK since Sheffield in 1977. The location and timing of this congress makes it ideal for those wanting to combine a congress with caving trips to the French Jura, Vercors and Swiss Alps.
It is been organised by the Swiss Speleological Society, with the participation of a large number of Swiss research organisations and companies.
The congress will cover all aspects of speleology: limestone hydrology, cave archaeology and palaeontology, speleology and mines, applied speleology, mapping techniques, physical speleology (micro-climates and palaeoclimates), karst geomorphology, speleology and exploration, and biospeleology. There are the usual post and pre congress speleological camps, in Switzerland, Germany and France. The languages for conference are English and French.
The basic congress fee for 10-17 August is 120 CHF-swiss francs till 31.12.96, 160 CHF until 31.5.97, and 200 CHF after 1.6.97. The price of the congress camp-site is included in the congress fee and is situated 3km from the conference centre. Other accommodation is also available.
Immediately preceding the congress, from 6-10 August is the Spelemedia, international multi-media festival for speleology and underground images. This will also take place in La Chaux-de-Fonds, and registration for this event can be made at the same time as for the congress, and at preferential rates for the two events together. Congress souvenirs include conference chocolates, knife, watch and wine!
It looks like being a busy and well organised event not to be missed. Further details, and registration for the congress can be obtained from:
Postal address: SubLime, P.O.Box 4093, CH-2304 La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland.
and E-Mail: email@example.com
This year the annual Lecture is to be given by our own Len Cook on Friday 7 March 1997 starting at 7pm in the Middleton Hall of the University of Hull. The title is "A Flash in the Dark - Half a century photographing caves in colour". Admission to the lecture is free but if you wish to attend the informal buffet after the lecture there is a charge. Contact either Pat or Ric Halliwell for further information.
Some time ago there was a spate of tackle being stolen from cars and caves, including the ropes being used by the Sell Gill digging team. Fortunately the culprits were caught, summary justice executed and some tackle including our own recovered. However there have been reports more recently of tackle again being removed from pitches, especially Kingsdale Valley Entrance. CNCC have asked that if any tackle is stolen then it be reported to then, together with any notes on distinguishing marks, so that they can monitor the situation. Maybe we do need to go back to the dictum dating from the early explorations of Car Pot, "Always belay your ladder at both ends!"
At the Divje Babe (Wild Women) cave site in the wall of the Idrica canyon in north-west Slovenia archaeologists have been working for a number of years on the cave deposits. As part of their work they have dug a 20m deep pit which has yielded various bones, Neanderthal tools and even fossilized bear fur. Amongst the Mousterian remains and artefacts has been found a femur, from a young bear, with four holes. The holes are all on one side of the bone and were originally thought to have been made by gnawing animals. However Dr Ivan Turk of the Institute of Archaeology in Ljubljana has established that their straight alignment means that they must have been made by early man. Thus the bone is thought to have been an early flute dating from a time when, according to anthropologists, music was unknown. Electron spin resonance dates the layers and the flute to between 57 and 82,000 years old.
The Sunday Times on 5 January included a full page health and fitness spread of which a large part was about climbing on climbing walls. Well you don't want to go outside do you? It also included a much smaller section entitled healthy balance which stated that "Several sports claim to offer a combination of physical and mental challenge that can lead to fitness and spiritual well-being" The listed sports were Aikido (Japanese Martial Art); Judo; Karate; Kendo (Japanese Martial Art); Taekwondo (Korean Martial Art); Tang Soo Do (an off shoot of Taekwondo); Yoga and Caving. So now when someone asks you why on earth do you go caving you have a much better answer than "Because it isn't there" (sic).
HM Beck, A Blick, A Bottomley, H Bottomley, D Bushel, R Callaghan, K Chappel, J Clark, G Connolly, LB Cook, J Cowling, A Davey, D Eccles, D Edwards, L Elton, R Espiner, E Faid, MC Goodwin, P Gray, PC Halliwell, RA Halliwell, AC Hardy, E Hill, DW Hoggarth, JD Hoggarth, C Humphris, B Hunkin, M Hunkin, MP Jackson, R Jenkins, S Jenkins, SR Kelley, K Lane, C Little, J Little, N Lucas, J Mason, DC Mellor, DL Milner, G Moore, R Myers, P Norman, J Normington, S Parker, A Pedlar, I Peretti, BJ Pickersgill, SE Pickersgill, B Prewer, R Pringle, JA Roberts, I Robinson, H Rose, RW Scott, T Shipley, Edgar Smith, M Stebbings, J Taylor, R Taylor, T Thompson, L Todd, J Warren, PB Warren, J Webb, A Weight, R Weight, EE Whitaker, E Wood, I Woods.
69 in total.
D Allanach, J Allonby, M Fredrickson, N Graham, A Gray, AC Hayter, C Hayter, T Jackson, C Karley, S Karley, R Kelley, J Nurse.
The Chairman reported the deaths of Bill Spencer, Fred Austin, Johnny Frankland and Margaret Bell and the meeting stood in silence in their memory.
The Minutes of the previous meeting had been printed in Record 41 and were taken as read. With two minor amendments the minutes were signed as a correct record on a proposal from R Halliwell, seconded by S Kelley.
1. Insurance of the Horton properties: there was a delay in arranging increased buildings cover because during the N&P merger with Abbey National our correspondence had been lost. The matter was now being chased up.
2. Bosch drills: The drills may be borrowed by prior arrangement with the Tacklekeeper. This will ensure that the batteries are kept under the optimum conditions.
3. Sponsorship: The Committee had agreed that any member wishing to apply for sponsorship should present details of the proposed project giving total cost and proposed contribution by the applicant. Each application would be considered on its merits.
1. T Jackson had written apologising for being unable to take an active part in the Club during the past year but thanking the Committee and meet leaders for keeping the Club running for members such as himself who were able to cave only infrequently.
2. Chrissie Shaw (nee Frankland) had written to thank the Club for publishing the appreciation of her father and for making her family so welcome when they had visited GG this summer.
It's been an OK sort of a year.
The Club had been represented at dinners of Kindred Clubs by various Officers; there had been good attendance at most meets including the Chartreuse meet which had replaced the Corchia meet. The Secretary confirmed her intention to retire and thanked the members and Committee for their help during her term of office. The report was accepted unanimously on a proposal from H Bottomley, seconded by R Myers who also proposed a vote of thanks to the retiring Secretary.
This had been previously circulated. There was a minor amendment to the Revenue Account - the number of subscriptions in arrears was 4 not 3. The Treasurer confirmed that not only had the GG meet been successful but he hoped that all had enjoyed it as much as he had. P Warren asked whether any special grants had been made. He was referred to p43 of Record 43 which gave details. These were included in the Revenue Account under Donations & Subscriptions and it was suggested that such grants should be detailed separately in future. The report was accepted unanimously on a proposal from P Gray, seconded by B Pickersgill.
Some ropes have been replaced. Bridon had confirmed that the flaws reported in new ropes were merely cosmetic and did not affect the strength of the rope. They had donated a length of rope in acknowledgement of the trouble the problem had caused. A number of small items had been replaced recently including a number removed during the GG meet from Bar Pot. Members were asked to be more diligent when booking tackle out and in to make the Tacklekeepers' jobs easier. There are currently 2 sets of survey equipment stored at Horton and they may be borrowed as long as details are entered in the booking out log which is stored with them. The Bosch drills are currently stored with the Tacklekeeper and may be borrowed by arrangement. This will ensure that the battery packs will be in good condition when they are required for use. One pack has been recently re-built and one drill/pack are currently in use on a long-term project.
I Woods requested that all ladders be marked with lengths. This has now been done.
T Thompson asked whether all the small items such as maillons were numbered. It was explained that krabs and pulleys are numbered but that maillons/hangers should be booked out on a "how many" basis.
Members were reminded of the importance of using the correct size krab with pulleys.
Members requested the purchase of plugs & feathers and a 3rd drill battery pack. These matters were passed to the Committee to consider.
The report was unanimously accepted on a proposal from T Wood, seconded by J Taylor.
Cottage Warden's Report:
The downward trend on the use of Ivy cottage has continued with 970(1258) member nights, 288(267) guest nights and Riverside used for only 106(166) nights (1995 in brackets). The Riverside booking system has been amended to a rolling six month booking period. Only three bookings outstanding per member are allowed and a deposit equal to the minimum payable (£6 per night) must be paid within 10 days of making the booking.
Outside redecoration of the cottages was completed; major work done on the Riverside chimney; Ivy gas supply system, kitchen sink and drain all renovated. Much of this was done on a working weekend in May and the Warden thanked all who had helped with work during the whole year. There had been a possible problem of CO fumes in the Ivy lounge. A new CO detector had been installed and a section of glass over the door replaced by louvres to improve ventilation.
The end of year debt had stood at £104.00. This had been reduced to £30.00, much owing from previous years. The names of the debtors was read out and it was agreed to publish it in the next Record.
T Thompson requested that the cooker in Ivy be replaced by a new one. It was agreed that the Committee consider this request.
P Norman suggested that the security of Bridge End needed improving; it was pointed out that the matter was in hand.
The report was accepted unanimously on a proposal from R Halliwell, seconded by J Normington.
16 members made use of the library during the year (increased by Committee members who read recent acquisitions during meetings!). 125 items were borrowed during the year of which 55 are still on loan. More than 230 items were added to stock, 20 by purchase, 95 on exchange (from 24 other clubs etc.) and almost 120 items donated by 11 members. Work on an up to date list of the Library started well but was temporarily held up by lighter nights and holidays etc. Work has now recommenced. Members were invited to visit the library between the end of the meeting and the dinner.
The report was accepted unanimously on a proposal from D Milner, seconded by L Cook.
In recognition of 30 years service as Hon. Librarian & Recorder the Chairman presented DC Mellor with a statuette of a caver.
A total of over 200 pages had been published in the Record, written by 41 members. The Editor thanked S Pickersgill for producing the July Record. The Record now costs approximately 40% of the subscription (including postage). Members who have not yet written for the Record were encouraged to put pen to paper in the forthcoming year.
I Woods reported that a Red Rose member had thought the Record the best caving club publication for some time. The YRC had also reviewed it favourably in their own publication.
The report was accepted unanimously on a proposal from B Pickersgill, seconded by J Clark.
Conservation Officer's Report:
H Beck explained his resignation during the year due to personal circumstances. He passed on his best wishes to the new Conservation Officer.
Election of Officers & Committee:
The Chairman explained that there were two nominations for the post of Conservation Officer: David Edwards and Elaine Hill. They were both invited to say a few words to introduce themselves and to outline the job as they saw it. It was suggested from the floor that as both were enthusiastic, they could share the job. It was explained that the Constitution allowed only one post although there was nothing to prevent the Committee co-opting the other person at a later stage. D Milner and P Norman were appointed tellers and the vote was taken.
While the votes were counted the following were elected/re-elected unopposed:
President: Richard (Harpic) Espiner proposed by RW Scott, seconded by PC Halliwell.
Senior Vice-President: Ron Pringle proposed by PC Halliwell, seconded by DL Milner
Junior Vice-President: Ken Chappel proposed by RW Scott, seconded by RA Halliwell
Chairman: R Myers;
Secretary: J Warren;
Treasurer: RW Scott;
Membership & Assistant Secretary: BJ Pickersgill;
Editor: RA Halliwell;
Librarian: DC Mellor;
Cottage Warden: SE Pickersgill;
Tackle-Keeper: JA Roberts.
SRT Tacklekeeper: DW Hoggarth.
J Warren is now Secretary and M Goodwin has resigned; thus there were two places free on the Committee. There were two nominations:
H Rose Proposed by R Myers, seconded by DL Milner
PC Halliwell Proposed by SE Pickersgill, seconded by J Mason
to fill 2 vacant spaces and hence all were elected unopposed.
The Committee thus consists of: PC Halliwell, JD Hoggarth, DL Milner, H Rose, T Shipley, A Weight, EE Whitaker, E Wood.
The tellers reported that D Edwards had been elected to the post of Conservation Officer.
Meets List 1997:
A draft list had been issued with Record 44 and the amended list was read out. All leaders had agreed to lead their meets.
A request was made for an Otter Hole meet. It was pointed out that because of limits on numbers it could not be a formal meet but a group of members could ask the Secretary to write on their behalf for a private meet.
1. Colette Karley (seconded by A Karley) volunteered to lead a meet in the the Long Churn area on Saturday 1st March. Meet at the Cottage at 10am. This offer was accepted.
2. L Elton, seconded by J Clark, proposed that the Club hold some meets each year at which members without SRT experience can get basic training in this skill, enabling them to join in and enjoy SRT meets.
The SRT Tacklekeeper said that a course could be organised within the Club for anyone interested. T Thompson pointed out that there are good professional courses available which enable cavers to gain their first experience of SRT under well controlled conditions. P Norman suggested that members should not necessarily expect to get all their training with the Club or on Club meets. A number of members spoke both in favour of Club-provided training and of external training. It was agreed that any training could not be run as a meet and would have to be provided on a 1 to 1 or 1 to 2 basis. It was agreed on a proposal from A Weight, seconded by D Mellor that any member wishing informal SRT training should contact the SRT Tacklekeeper to make appropriate arrangements. This was passed with 5 voting against. The Committee was asked to look into the legal liability situation for the Club and for members supplying the training.
Any other business:
1. The Chairman asked for a show of hands for the Ham & Eggs tea, to be held after the President's meet in Settle.
2. The Chairman explained the current problems CNCC were experiencing in relation to the proposed revised NCA constitution.
3. The Chairman introduced Peter Hobson to the meeting. His father, John Hobson, is a Life Member of the Club.
4. Edgar Smith (a member of 67 years standing) addressed the meeting, telling of the times he drove the Club bus, and wishing the Club well for the future.
Tom Pettit Cup: Ian Peretti for his article on caving "Somewhere in South Wales" (Runner-up: Patrick Warren)
Meets Report Prize: Alan Weight for his report on the Chartreuse Meet
President's Challenge Cup: Jan Hoggarth
(Runner-up: Peter Gray)
Climber's Cup: Peter Jones
(Runner-up: Jan Hoggarth)
Men of Kent Trophy: Peter Gray
Down Valley Trophy: John Allonby
Philip Tyas Cup: John Webb
(Runner-up: Jan Hoggarth)
JR Neild Cup: Peter Jones
Spirit of Gaping Gill Trophy: Dave Hoggarth
When the youthful Albert Mitchell
Back in nineteen twenty nine
Went up fell, descended pot 'oils
An inspiration filled his mind
He'd start a Club to get together
All the people daft enough
To cycle out to far flung places
And get involved in caves and stuff
He very quickly got it going
Made some ladders, bought long ropes
Rounded up a few eccentrics
Keen to realise his hopes
Forth they sallied up to Girston
Malham, Litton, Gaping Gill
Poking blokes down holes and fissures
From Casterton to Greenhow Hill
Year to year they grew and prospered
Longer caves and wetter pots
Meets cards, dinners, lantern lectures
Albert calling all the shots.
Old men, young men, fat men, thin men
Gasped up pitches, thrutched through crawls
Splutterinq carbide, gleaming nife cells,
Candles, long johns, overalls
Ladders wooden, then electron
Hemp rope, courlene, SRT
Push bikes, club bus, private transport
Yorkshire Dales and ower the sea
Good times in tents, and in Club cottage
Down pot, on crag, on wind swept fell
In public bar, on chipping heaps
Hen hut, sheep fold, Keanes Hotel
The late lamented printed journal
Listed deeds of daring do
Told tall tales of mad adventures
Photos, maps, and surveys too
Modern times are now upon us
Lady members to the fore,
Mere Gill bottomed in an hour
Gouffre Berger, not much more
We've climbed and ski-ed, and dug in shakeholes,
Collected folk lore, supped good ale
Caved in woollens, caved in wet suits
Always lived to tell the tale.
So lads and lasses of the Craven
Get to your feet and drink with me
Good health to all the weird and wondrous
Constituents of the CPC
The BCRA Public Liability Insurance covers the Club and its members for any injury/damage caused to third parties during Club activities. The emphasis here must be on the word members, which includes Probationary Members and all those who join the Club during the Insurance-year. It does not provide cover for any injury/damage caused to third parties by any guests of the Club or individual members. Members are reminded that they are personally responsible for their guests both above and below ground (Rule 12a). The Committee is considering the possibility of establishing temporary membership for guests in order to provide insurance cover. However such a change cannot be introduced with a General Meeting and will require that tighter records of guests are maintained and that a guest fee is collected in order to cover the cost of the insurance. Details of the existing BCRA scheme are given in the Club Handbook, page 47.
The first is Roy "Trailer" Taylor who for many years drove the tractors up to GG with all the winch gear. Anybody who was around in the 70's and early 80's will remember the "fun" of double heading trailers with two tractors, or even putting 50 people on ropes to help get some extra pull to move sticking trailers or tractors on the notorious "Hellfire Corner". The funeral was held in Clapham on Saturday 28 December and the CPC, along with the Bradford PC, were well represented.
The second is Bob Powell who was a member some time ago and was one of the real tiger cavers of his time. This was recognised when he was one of the two Englishmen invited to join the 1956 International Expedition to explore the lower reaches of the Gouffre Berger. His exploits on that trip were described in the CPC Journal for 1956 and were reprinted in the Club's Gouffre Berger 1994 Publication.
My memories of Bob Powell go as far back as the early fifties - careless and carefree days they seem now. I still recall our borrowing Arnold Waterfall's explosives permit, motorcycling down to an ICI depot in Wakefield to buy (over the counter!) sticks of persuader and detonators - the latter in a brown paper bag - and then returning to Skipton to leave most of the persuader in Arnold Waterfall's shop before continuing up into the dales to press on with the then current dig.
In many ways they were "golden" days - very few people were caving, many obvious sinks were still not investigated, and almost every year substantial discoveries were made.
One of these, with which Bob Powell was closely associated, was the discovery and exploration of the Providence Pot / Dowber Gill Passage system in Wharfedale. Following Dennis Brindle's fluorescein test, which showed (to my surprise!) that the stream sinking just below Providence Lead Mine reappeared in Dow Cave, Bob Powell took part in determined onslaughts first from Dow Cave and then at the sink at the mine.
In Dow Cave, a determined push, following the pioneering crossing of the "Horror" by Arthur Hardy, took a group of us, including Bob Powell, as far as Bridge Cavern.
In Dowber Gill, just below the mine, Bob Powell and I were fortunate enough to locate a fissure in the middle of the streambed, which was dug out over a period of several weekends until we met a small horizontal passage leading to the substantial 54 Cavern, named after the year of its discovery.
On a subsequent weekend, Bob Powell dug through the choke at the end of 54 Cavern and entered a dry downstream passage. At the time, Arnold Waterfall and I were surveying the small side passage in 54 Cavern when Bob shouted down to us the good news. Surveying, I'm ashamed to say, was at once given up in our haste to take part in the exploration of the new passage which led to a terminal chamber not far from the Bridge Cavern reached from Dow Cave.
The actual Providence Pot / Dow Cave connection was made some time later following the blasting of the crawl beyond the terminal chamber in Providence Pot when a large number of CPC members including Bob Powell were present. Arthur Hardy I recall coined the very appropriate names of Palace and Dungeon for the large caverns beyond the blasted crawl.
Another of my earliest memories of Bob Powell dating from the early fifties is concerned with Mossdale, when a group of CPC members were very ably led by D Barnes through Kneewrecker to check on the possibility of extending the far passages and rejoining Mossdale Beck. We had no success of course - RD Leakey and his associates had done a very thorough job - but I recall that one of the dry downstream passages ended at a vertical fissure in the floor. The fissure was about 8-10 feet long and 1-2 feet in width. We could see down 10 - 15 feet but then it curved gently out of sight. The walls were quite smooth, and had the width of the fissure increased only slightly where it curved out of sight, it could well have been impossible for a caver to climb back unaided. We had of course no rope.
Bob Powell was nevertheless determined to take the risk no small risk so far into the Mossdale system - and only
our assurance that we would come back better prepared persuaded him to abandon his intention.
After 1955 I saw Bob Powell only rarely, as both of us worked for some time overseas. We did however enjoy a reunion dinner together with Albert Mitchell in Ghana, in I believe 1956, when Bob was working in the Ashanti Goldfields.
Concluding, I often find that distance in time gives greater clarity to past events, in that minor detail is forgotten but the essentials remain. This is certainly the case regarding my caving trips with Bob Powell. He was a very able caver, and it was a pleasure and a privilege to have known him.
I first met Norman in 1951 when he was Hon Secretary of the Oldham Rambling Group, and I was in the Oldham and District Speleological Society. We used to organise a number of joint meets each year between the two groups. Norman was a quiet and unassuming man who was liked by members of both clubs. In 1953 Norman joined the Craven Pothole Club in order to broaden his caving experience, and later became a life member in 1968. Although never one of the caving "tigers", Norman was enthusiastic and just steadily got on with whatever had to be done. He could probably be best described as an all-round outdoor person, with an interest in rambling, climbing and skiing as well as caving. He was a competent caver of the old school, with an interest in trying to help conserve the caves that he so enjoyed. An electronic engineer by trade Norman worked for many years for Ferranti, near Manchester, before eventually leaving to form his own company. He passed away during August 1996, after finally losing a six year battle against cancer. He leaves a wife (Audrey) to whom our deepest sympathy goes. He will be sadly missed by all his rambling and caving friends.
My recent report on the clubs ladder and lifeline tackle made mention of a problem that was occurring with the C-link tails found on the corners of the ladder.
Typically, when a ladder is returned these tails are wrapped around the outsides of the coiled wire bundles and then clipped together via C-links. This causes an un-natural twist to form in the wire tail, which if left, will set permanently. This twist is undesirable, but more importantly, the lay of the wire is opened up, exposing the strands to grit, water and abrasion and consequent early corrosion.
The approved method of storing a ladder after use is to take one tail around the outside of a wire bundle and pass the other "through the rung" and then clip with C-links.
This instruction is mandatory for all ladders returned to store.
Note however that it is perfectly acceptable to clip around both sides to facilitate the porterage of tackle through a cave, but remember to undo the ends on booking back in.
Andy Roberts (Tackle Keeper)
It was agreed that the fitting of new doors and locks on Bridge End was a matter of urgency. In the light of past problems it was resolved that a quote be obtained for a GG Trailer to be built to our own specifications. It was noted that a donation of £300 had been received from John Glover to be used for assistance and encouragement for conservation underground. It was reported that 11 people had failed to respond to a final reminder about 1996 subscriptions and were therefore deemed to have resigned. Because of a potential problem with CO2 in the Cottage living room it was agreed that the ventilation in the room should be carefully checked. After noting that GG had shown that the current charging facilities needed supplementing it was agreed that two 5-way FX chargers should be purchased for use at the Cottage and at GG.
After inspecting the proposed Albert Mitchell Trophy it was agreed that a small stock of the trophies should be purchased for future use. After noting that one half of the "Trenchfoot Arms" roof was rotten it was agreed that a replacement be purchased. The Auditor had written stating that he believed the financial state of the club was healthy. After a report on CNCC and NCA Matters the Chairman was empowered to vote in the best interests of the Club. It was agreed that a replacement microwave cooker be purchased for the Cottage.
It was agreed to replace the upstairs and drying room doors and frames in Bridge End, together with the front door of the Cottage. It was reported that the rateable value of the Skipton HQ had more than doubled and the Treasurer had requested another reassessment. The question of insurance cover for guests on meets was discussed (see elsewhere in this Record). The question of a new cooker for Ivy Cottage was considered and it was agreed that a replacement one be obtained. Agreed that the Club would purchase some plugs and feathers and 200m of new lifeline rope. There was a discussion on the role of the Conservation Officer and he was asked to provide further details of how he saw the role developing.
Mike Baslington, Sarah Jenkins.
The following have been accepted as Probationary Members and will probably be attending meets during the next few months:
John Hampton, Stephen David Horne, Jan Richardson.
SRT Leadership: The following has been added to the list of approved CPC SRT Leaders:
Change of Address:
S Ashby, A Blick, A Bottomley, R Callaghan, A Champion, G Connolly, D Eccles, M Holloway, C Karley, D Milner. J Nurse, P and H Rose, P Seed.
To Steve and Barbara Pickersgill on their Marriage
To Pete Seed and Olwyn on the birth of their son Daniel
Bradford Pothole Club Bulletin Vol.6 No.10 (Feb 1996)
Bristol Exploration Club Journal "Belfry Bulletin"Vol.49 No.1 (nd); Vol 49 No 4
British Cave Research Association "Caves & Caving" No.70 (Winter 1995), No.72 (Summer 1996),No.73 (Autumn '96), No.74 (Winter 1996)
British Cave Research Association - Transactions "Cave and Karst Science" Vol.22 No.2 (October 1995), Vol 22 No 3 (December 1995), Vol.23 no.1 (June 1996)
Cave Diving Group Newsletter No.118 (January 1996), No.119 (April 1996), No.120 (July 1996) No.121 (October 1996)
Cave Rescue Organisation "Rescue '95"
Cerberus Spelaeological Society Journal Vol.23 No.5 (Jan 1996), Vol 23 No 6 (May 1996)
Chelsea Spelaeological Society Newsletter Vol.38 No.1 (Jan 1996), Vol.38 No.2 (February 1996), Vol.38 No.3 (March 1996), Vol.38 No.4 (April 1996),Vol.38 Nos 5, 6 (May, June 1996), Vol.38 No.7,8 & 9 (July-September 1996),Vol.38 Nos10 & 11 (October & November 1996), Vol.38 No.12 (December 1996)
CNCC Newsletter 3/96
Cwmbran Caving Club Journal Vols.1,2,4,5,6,7,8,9,13,14,16,18 (1967 to 1989/90) and un-numbered issue 1991-1992, No.22 (Feb.1996)
Dan Yr Ogof Cave Advisory Committee Newsletter October 1996
Descent No.65 (August 1985), No.82 (June/July 1988), No 127 (December 1995/January 1996), No.128 (February/March 1996),No. 129 (April.May 1996), No.130 & 131 (June/July & August/September 1996), No. 132 (October/November 1996)
Endins No.8 (1981), No.9 (December 1992) (Publicacio D'Espeleologia se Ccio' Balear D'Espeleologia) Mallorca
Grampian Speleological Group Bulletin Vol.3 No.5 (March 1996), Vol.4 No.1 (October 1996)
Gruppo Grotte Schio-CAI Bollettino Interno "Stalattite" Anno X (1974-75), Anno XI (1976-77), Anno XII (1978-79),Anno XIII (1980-82), Anno XIV (1983-84), Anno XV (1985-86)
International Caver 15 (1995), 16 (1996), 17 (1996)
Mendip Caving Group Newsletter "MCG News" Nos 246-55 (June 1995 to July 1996)
Mendip Caving Group Occasional Publications: No.1 Belize '94 (1995); No.2 (1995); No 3 MCG en Chartreuse (March 1996)
National Caving Association "Speleoscene" No 23 (May/June 1996), No.24 (July/August 1996), No.25 (Sept/Oct 1996)
Plymouth Caving Group Newsletter and Journal No.124 (Dec. 1995), No.125 (March 1996), No.126 (August 1996)
Red Rose Cave & Pothole Club Newsletter Vol.32 No.3(November 1995), Vol.33 No.1, Vol.33 No.2 (Aug.1996)
Shepton Mallet Caving Club Journal Series 9 No.9 (Autumn 1995)
Speleo Club Orobico C.A.I. Bergamo Journal "Ol Bus" No.7 (1994)
Speleological Abstracts 34 for 1995.
Speleological Union of Ireland & Irish Cave Rescue Organisation (SUICRO) Newsletter No.36 (February 1996), No.37 (July 1996),No.38 (October 1996)
Sydney Speleological Society Journal Vol.39 Nos 9-12 (Sept-Dec 95), Vol.40 Nos 5-8 (May to August 1996)
Union Belge de Speleologie Bulletin "Regards" 22 (1995)
University of Bristol Spelaeological Society Proceedings Vol.20 No.2 (for 1995)
Wessex Cave Club Journal Vol.23 No.247 (December 1995), Vol.23 No.248 (February 1996), Vol 23 Nos 249, 250 (May, July 1996), Vol.23 No.251 (September 1996),Vol.24 No.252 (December 1996)
Westminster Spelaeological Group Newsletter Nos 12,13,14 (July, October & December 1995), No.15 (March 1996), No.16,17,18 (April, June & September 1996)
White Rose Pothole Club Newsletter Vol.15 No.1 (Feb.1996)
William Pengelly Cave Studies Trust Ltd. Journal "Studies in Speleology" Vol.X (1995)
Yorkshire Ramblers' Club YRC Bulletin No.5 (Summer 1996), No.6 (Winter 1996)
Books and one-off publications
Anon - The World's Largest Ice Cavern -(World Wide Magazine Vol.48 No.288 March 1922)
Mike Banks -Snow Commando
JEQ Barford - Climbing in Britain
BCRA Transactions "Cave Science" Combined Index to Transactions of the BCRA Vols 1-20 (1974-1994) and Transactions of the Cave Research Group Vols.1-15 (1948-1973)
Belfast Telegraph 31.7.1950 - article relating to the CPC meet in Fermanagh donated by the family of former member Maurice Hillary
Photocopy of "Cave Explorers in Co. Fermanagh and Co. Cavan 1908" - H Brodrick, CA Hill, RL Praeger and A Rule.
D.W. Gill & J.S. Beck - Caves of the Peak District 1991
Cave Diving Group Northern Sump Index (1995)
Graham McEwan - Crypts, caves & catacombs: Subterranae of Derbyshire & Nottingham - Sigma Press 1994
Trevor D Ford - photocopy article from Geology Today (May-June 1996) - Speleogenesis: the evolution of the Castleton caves
Le Gouffre Jean-Bernard" Grouppe Speleologique Vulcain 1991
Taras Grescoe - Beautiful British Columbia Vol.35 No.3 (Fall 1996) - article "Notes from the underground"
Guide to Palvolgy-cave Budapest and 2 other Hungarian show cave "flyers"
Hull University Speleological Society Expedition Belgium 1990
Hull University Romania Expedition 1995 Report.
EA Martel - photocopy Irelande et Cavernes Anglaises
Marle Rev R - Photocopy of article from World Wide Magazine XXVIII (166) "Hung up in a cave" (January 1912)
Jules Verne - Voyage au Centre de la Terre - (1995 ed.)
H Vivian - A Tyrolese Salt Mine (World Wide Magazine Vol.48 No.285 Dec 1921)
AC Waltham, MJ Simms, AR Farrant & HS Goldie: Karst and Caves of Great Britain Chapman & Hall 1997 (Geological Conservation Review Series No.12)
Wessex Cave Club Index to Vol.22 (Nos 236-243)
Wide World Magazine - photocopies of 23 "Cave" articles from early issues.
Cave Safe II. Ropework for Cavers - Andy Sparrow
Maps: Two rolled 6" O.S. maps of the Ingleborough/Gaping Gill area (sheets SD77SE and SD77SW)
Donations from: D Allanach, HM Beck, A Butterfield, L Cook, J Helm, A Knight, D Milner, Arthur Smith, T Thompson, P Warren, G Workman.
It is hoped to circulate an up to date list of members' addresses with the next edition of the Record. If the address label on the envelope within which you received this Record is incorrect then please let me have the corrections before the end of February. If you have an email address and would like it included with the address list then please email me (R.A.Halliwell@admin.Hull.ac.uk) with your address.