The Club Rules, Constitution and related matters are incorporated in the Craven Pothole Club Handbook. The Record is 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. The views expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of the Editor or the Craven Pothole Club
Dr. R.A. Halliwell, Academic Office, The University, HULL, HU6 7RX
Tel No: 01482 465948(W) 876544(H) 466441(FAX)
Deadline for material for the next Record
Please ensure that everything reaches me no later than Monday 14 June. Thanks
Thanks to Len Cook this Record continues the history of the CPC begun by Don Mellor in Record 53. Len's article covers the post war-years through to the mid-sixties when the combined impact of wetsuits, electron ladders and more easily available personal transport led to major change in the potholing "scene". However I still need a volunteer to continue the history of the CPC, including this second "Golden Age" of discovery, and I am hoping that someone will contact me soon.
One of the tasks of the Editor is to try and keep abreast of the news and thinking of other clubs as well as our own in an effort to provide the best service I can to CPC members. My interest was raised by a article by the Chairman of a Kindred Club asking about the future direction of his Club, he asked whether or not they were being too complacent in thinking that they were the best caving club in the world (we know they are wrong on that one) whilst the world was passing them by. Later he admitted that he had received a mixed response to his deliberately thought provoking article but there had been some common themes. These were, (1) the need to pick a speleological problem which will interest and involve a lot of people such as an expedition (we have the annual winch meet, the Berger in 2000 and a number of people going out to France this summer). (2) The need for a local project to concentrate minds at weekend (we have some digging going on but that involves only a small proportion of members and many of the diggers are working on different projects). (3) The need to publish a Journal (we have the Record which is consistently receiving good reviews in the caving press but what about the proposed Explorations Journal or a well produced history of the Club for our 75th Anniversary?). (4) The need for an interactive Web site for members (We have a Web site but what about a members only mailist, I am sure that it would be used by those members with email access). (5) The need to link more closely with other Clubs whilst maintaining autonomy (It is my belief that in the past the CPC has been bad at this but I think the situation is improving) .
So how does the CPC fit into these musings, we appear at first sight to be doing rather well and meeting many of the targets our Kindred Club is setting itself. However I don't believe that we can be complacent. We have had problems with cliques in the past and we need to remain vigilant to avoid this. We are looking at greater use of technology with a computer based library system. But what about the more basic questions? Should we be trying to achieve an even larger membership than we have or are we already too big? What do we need to do to persuade younger members to both join and take a more active role in running the club. Should we be going for a higher profile in the caving press or are we happy not to publicise our activities? The last major review of the future of the Club was over 10 years ago when the decision was finally approved to accept female members. Maybe after a decade it is time to review our organisation and aims to make sure that we are still going the right way to ensure that the Craven Pothole Club remains a, if not the, premier caving club. What do you think your club should be doing, what needs changing, let me know what you think even if it is "don't change anything".
President's Meet 1998 29 November 1998
Sunday morning was a bright crisp day. The car park at Whoop Hall alive to the sound of chilly motorists scraping thick ice off their car windows before setting off through a few foggy patches on their way to Kettlewell.
Parking space at the foot of Park Rash (How did it get its name?) is a bit sparse but at 10.30am you could have taken your pick! Brian Varley was another early bird having already visited the car park in Kettlewell.
The sun got brighter and the sky bluer and it was obvious that the great outdoors would be the winner in any competition with the underworld. By 11.00am it looked as if Brian and Len would be the only ones in Dow Cave and we set ourselves a deadline of 12.00 noon. Don Mellor paid us a short visit to check who had turned up. By noon we set off and at a quick reckon up half way through made our number to be eight or nine. At this point Brian said "Who was that standing there", pointing at a patch of mud. The rest joined in pointing and saying "There?" - we hadn't a clue!
Some looked at the start of the Dowber Gill Passage and then at Hobson's Choice. Four of the party (Patrick, Perce, John and Harvey) went in but soon appeared again. Photographs were taken and Mars Bars eaten. We were out by three to a still bright day and there was eight of us not nine. Who the heck was it standing there?
Don't worry no one was left behind after a leisurely trip; just right for an after the Dinner Meet.
Those present - Karen Lane, Brian Varley, Patrick Warren, Ted Wood, Perce and John (PM), Harvey Lomas (YRC guest) and Len Cook. Apologies for not getting the names at the time.
Notts Pot 30 December 1998
Present: J Allonby(L), A Davey, P Gray, N Gymer, N Blundell, S Allonby, A Mackie, N Lucas, T Thompson, R Halliwell, K Lane.
As the leader was feeling ill, he supervised proceedings from the surface. RH and PG went digging, although the later failed to live up to conflagratory expectations. Adamsons and Centre routes were both tackled and descended. The two parties met and held a discussion about how the next traverse should be rigged. It duly was, and everyone went down the next pitch. NB, NL and TT went down the final two pitches. Everyone else heard and saw the water and set off back out. (SA discovering the correlation between Christmas cake consumption and girth when trying to get back on to the traverse). The SRTers emerged 7 hours after descending, after a very enjoyable trip.
Sell Gill 9 January 1999
Present: Steve & Barbara J Pickersgill, Steve Kirk, Dave Johnson, Neville Lucas, Tom Thompson, Tracey Beasley, Peter Farnell, Glyn Tomkins.
Sitting in the cottage, no interest being shown, then Peter and Glyn arrived, closely followed by Steve Kirk. So, with a promised detackling party of Karen Lane and Neville, off we went to do the dry route. On arrival at the hole we found it already rigged and the water levels a lot lower than anticipated.
So as not to over rig the party in the dry entrance plans were changed and we set off down the wet entrance to do Goblin shaft. Four made it to the main chamber, then light and memory failure caused the rest to retreat towards the surface.
The party who had been down the dry way were now coming down Goblin, over rigging us! However, they only got as far as the ledge after the bedding plane when they met us coming out. Karen had miraculously transformed into Tom Thompson, who had used yet another party's ropes to come down the dry way, started detackling. The effect of this was to strand the over riggers for about an hour or more.
In the meantime Neville had met the dry way party detackling and attempted to come down Goblin, only to find us on the way out.
BJ comented to the probationary members that not all meets were this chaotic, some were even worse!
Notts Pot 23 Jan 1999
Present: Martin Holloway(leader), Alan Davey, Steve Kelly, Keith Wright, Bob Jenkins, Dundee Mike, Kate Corcoran(G), Rob Evans(G), Carla O'Malley(G)
A perfect number of participants to rig three routes and bottom in comfort - in theory,
Steve, Bob and Keith down Left Hand Direct to exit via Central. Martin, Kate and Alan down Central, rig to the bottom and then exit derigging Left Hand Twilight. Mike, Rob and Carla down Left Hand Twilight, derig from the bottom via Left Hand Direct.
I had forgotten how nice this cave was, especially the bottom pitches. How much easier this place is to rig on P-hangers, it really does take out all the hard work. I shall take up crochet next.
Unfortunately due to a slight hitch in the execution of the plan, the deriggers decided to exit, feeling sure that the bottom riggers would pull the rope out with them. Unfortunately not, so Alan had to do his manly hero bit and go back down with Mike to pull out the bottom ropes. I was delegating at the time.
We had expected to get very wet, but the whole place was decidedly dry. Nice Time had by all. Where were all the people who wanted start their Berger training on this meet?
Lancaster / Easegill 6 March 1999
Lancaster to County
Mike Baslington, Andrew Brooks, Heather McQueen(G), Simon Parker, Andrew Dopson, Steve Godwin, Dave Ball
Howard Beck, David Robertson, Peter Barnes, Joanne Reaney(P), Paul Warnes(P), Keith Wright
Cow Pot to/and County
Terry Instone, Peter Hamilton, Patrick Warren, Sean Kelly
First I will explain why I led this meet instead of Tom Thompson. Tom arrived at the cottage and prepared all the gear required for a Lancaster - County exchange on Friday evening but he was taken ill on Saturday morning and unable to lead the meet. Before you all jump to the obvious conclusion, this was not self inflicted alcohol poisoning but something more serious requiring a trip to Hospital.
In addition to the official trip a break-away set of SRTers intended to enter the system via Cow Pot and inevitably on Saturday morning some people did not fancy the complete through trip or the Lancaster entrance pitch so Howard volunteered to take a shorter trip into County. He would leave the top pitch rigged for the through trip from Lancaster which could now be done as a pull through.
A group of ten set off towards Lancaster Hole but only seven arrived. Somewhere between Bull Pot farm and Lancaster Hole we had lost three people. We walked back to the gate, checked the path back to the farm and assuming they had missed the left turn followed the small path on for quarter of a mile but did not find them. As they where still above ground somewhere we assumed that they would be safe and continued the trip without them. It turns out that they had a frustrating morning searching Easegill beck for the entrance before taking a trip into County Pot.
At the bottom of the entrance pitch we had the inevitable discussion on the merits of ladders and SRT. Six out of the seven agreed that this would have been much more pleasant on string. The odd one out was Heather. This was her first caving trip and she thought descending 110 foot ladder pitch was fun.
We found some entertainment at Fall Pot where Patrick was swinging at the end of his SRT rope about 1m from the floor. As he was nice enough to give us direction for the way on we resisted the temptation to laugh or throw mud at him.
The trip through the upper series was straight forward. The only problem we had was heat exhaustion. We didn't get lost (much) and we didn't lose any more cavers. We admired the large caverns, the formation, the strange passages at the Minuets and the mud. Yes the mud, Heather took a small sample of clay to cook as part of her ceramics course.
On reaching Main Line Terminus we followed the tortuous route through the Manchester Bypass. Heather still thought it was fun.
In the rift section we met Sean and Peter coming the other way. They had got cold waiting for Patrick to rig Cow pot and came down County instead. Somewhere around here the second screw up occurred. I will try to explain but this gets very complicated so if you don't watch Jonathon Creek I suggest you skip the remainder of the report.
On the way into County Sean and Peter had met Howard and told him that they would go into the bypass to meet up with the through trip and return with us. By the time we met they had changed their minds and planned to do the loop down Stop Pot and up the Wretched Rabbit. As they knew that Howard was heading out we could remove the ladder from the top pitch in County. They had also dumped their SRT kit in the entrance of County (that's important).
After Patrick had failed to reach the floor in Cow Pot he and Terry de-rigged and headed for County as well. They can't have been far behind because they also met Howard who passed on Sean and Peter's original plan to return with the through trip. Patrick and Terry took the ladder for the Poetic Justice pitch from Howard and continued down County. They realised that there was a danger that we might de-rig the top pitch before they returned so they hung some slings down to assist if the pitch had to be climbed. (good move that) They went all the way down to the streamway and up to Stop Pot but did not meet up with Sean and Peter.
Now the through trip leaves County, de-rigging the top pitch. We were a bit puzzled about the slings hanging down the pitch but figured they were nothing to do with us and left them there.
Next Patrick and Terry return up County to find the pitch de-rigged so Patrick climbs the slings and rigs the pitch for Terry using the ladder from Poetic Justice. They de-rig the pitch and return to the entrance where they find Sean and Peter's SRT kit. They now have a problem because Sean and Peter are still underground. Had they missed the through trip or had they changed there minds and would be coming out of the Wretched Rabbit? An early quote from Sean of "I'm not going out through Wretched Rabbit yet again..." decided it so Patrick and Terry went back to re-rig the top pitch.
Eventually, after retrieving the tackle from Lancaster Hole, I met up with Patrick back at Bull Pot farm and told him about Sean and Peter's change of plan. Patrick made some unprintable sounds then headed back to County Pot to retrieve the ladder. I was left trying to puzzle out what the hell was going on.
Nidderdale Meet 29/31 May 1999
Further details are not yet available, please contact the leader, Dave Milner.
Lake District Camp 25/26 September 1999
This will be based at Turner Hall Farm Camp-site, Seathwaite in Dunnerdale (Duddon Valley). There are good walks of all lengths starting from the camp-site, and scrambling and climbing, both within walking distance. The pub is very good and 5 minutes from the camp-site. More details in the next Record.
Annual Dinner 1999
The Annual Dinner will be held on Saturday 27 November 1999 at the Black Horse in Skipton. The Chief Guest will be the local historian Ian Dewhirst. Those members who have heard Ian speak at previous dinners will need no reminding of his superb dry sense of humour. Those of you who have not heard him should ensure that you do not miss out on one of the best after dinner speakers in the region.
Cryptic Quiz Answers
1.Ingleborough 2.Oldham lamp 3.Psilomelane Pot 4.Single rope techniques 5.Pikedaw Calamine 6.Pirate 7.Ladders 8.Oversuit 9.Batty Wife Cave 10.Nick Pot 11.Spice Gill 12.Neoprene 13.Fountains Fell 14.Belt 15.Swinsto 16.Maillon Rapide 17.Ammo 18.Pillar Holes 19.Helmet 20.Riverside
Mount Kenya Ä Hakuna Matata
Mount Kenya Ä who cannot have wanted to see for themselves the diamond glacier and the evocatively named gate of the mists described in Eric Shipton's famous book Upon That Mountain, or make a pilgrimage to the site of Felice Benuzzi's wartime escapades in No Picnic on Mount Kenya. Quite a few years ago I got talking to a fellow caver in a pub and we discovered we liked mountains as well as caves. Sean Kelly has a simple approach to these things: "Let's jump on a plane to Nairobi and go climb the bugger!" was his suggestion.
Mount Kenya at over 17,000 ft is the second highest mountain in Africa after Kilimanjaro. It lies literally within a few miles of the Equator. The twin summits, Batian (17,054 ft / 5199m) and Nelion (17,022 ft / 5188m), are separated by a cleft Ä the gate of the mists. The third highest point is Point Lenana (16,355 ft / 4985m). Point Lenana can be climbed by fit and acclimatised hikers, but either of the main peaks requires technical rock climbing at altitude: the easiest way is a route on Nelion of about 1300 ft of climbing with pitches allegedly up to Hard V Diff standard.
Batian was first climbed by a party led by a gentleman explorer, Halford Mackinder, in 1899. Nelion did not fall underfoot until 1929 when Eric Shipton started his explorations of the mountain. Shipton is a particular hero of mine, his maxim "travel light, travel far", and the idea that the only expeditions worth going on are ones that can be planned on the back of an envelope with a few hours notice, are both appealing ideals (unfortunately, the idea of planning the 1953 Everest expedition on the back of even a large envelope probably cost him his chance to lead it).
In February this year we followed in Shipton's footsteps as Sean suggested, got on a plane to Nairobi with a sackful of climbing gear, half a plan on a scrap of paper, and no real idea exactly how we were going to make it all work. Sean revealed he had a combined edition of W E Bowman's The Ascent of Rum Doodle and The Cruise of the Talking Fish to use as an expedition manual. Suddenly everything was going to be all right.
We stepped out of the airport and immediately into the clutches of one of a score of Safari pundits. "Er...how much is a taxi to Mount Kenya?" we asked. More dollars than you could possibly part with was the answer, but for 1000 KSh (about 10) we will take you to our offices in Nairobi and see if we can make a plan to fit your budgets. We walked into the trap. "We want to climb Mount Kenya." "Hakuna matata Ä no problem. You will need porters, a cook and a climbing guide." "We have brought our own food and we know how to climb, we only need porters." "You will get lost on the mountain and we will have to rescue you..." Eventually a deal was struck, which somehow managed to relieve us of nearly all our cash. If we give all our cash to a Safari company we thought logically, we can't be robbed of it (again). Fortunately for us though, meeting up with this crowd (Sanu Expeditions Ltd) was a piece of incredible luck. Not only was it a relatively new Safari company and very keen to make a good impression on travellers so that they will spread the word back home, it was one with a good knowledge of Mount Kenya and excellent contacts among local porters.
So it was that we found ourselves camping that night at the first camp site on the Naro Moru hiking trail up Mount Kenya, after landing in Nairobi that morning. We had three porters Ä Stephen Kamande Mburu, James Babu and Joseph Njuru. Stephen would stay with us all the time apart from the actual climbing, whereas James and Joseph would go back down when we had established ourselves on the mountain. Everything was going according to plan, if, that is, the plan included being chased down the track in the dark by a rogue water buffalo. We had the first of our evening meals. In The Cruise of the Talking Fish one character proposes living off putty and sawdust for the duration of the voyage. Sean hadn't quite gone this far and had compromised with a diet of reconstituted soya protein. For breakfast next morning I got my revenge by revealing ten days worth of plain Ready Brek in a large plastic bag.
As we walked up the trail to Mackinder's camp at the foot of the main summits, we used Rum Doodle to identify the many new birds and flowers. We spotted several examples of the hairy disgrace, and almost certainly made a sighting of the highly elusive East African warple. After lunch, I became convinced I was being followed by a lurking suspicion. Or was it last night's soya?
Mackinder's camp consists of a large bunkhouse and camping area at 14,000 ft at the head of a valley directly below the main peaks. Sean, who knows about these things, suggested we should spend two nights here to acclimatise. I was too much out of breath to disagree. The next day therefore we hauled most of our gear up to a hut known as the Austrian hut or top hut, jumping off point for Point Lenana, and for climbs on the South face of Nelion including the route we hoped to do. On the way back down we scrambled onto a ridge terminating in a beautiful but little visited point known as Shipton's peak, directly above the head of the Teleki valley and Mackinder's camp.
The following morning we packed up completely and moved everything up to the new campsite next to the Austrian hut. In the afternoon we wandered up Point Lenana. From the Austrian hut the bottom half of the route up the SE face of Nelion looked impossible. From Point Lenana the top half looked even meaner. I was beginning to have secret doubts whether we would even get off the ground.
Next day therefore, another acclimatisation day, found us crossing the Lewis glacier and up some very loose moraine below the SE face to have a closer look at the start of the route. The first two pitches were scrambling, then the true nature of the face was revealed. Very steep rock for sure but crucially the grain was lying into the face. This meant any steep pitches would hopefully be interspersed with good ledges. The way on was obvious too Ä a rising traverse brought you to the foot of an 80 ft chimney that could only be Mackinder's chimney, described by Shipton as the key that unlocks access to the upper reaches of the mountain. Reassured, we dropped off a pile of kit here.
On returning from our prospecting we found the Austrian camp had been invaded by a commercial outfit, "OTT Expeditions", complete with "OTT" baseball caps. We decided OTT referred to the amount of gear they had insisted on bringing with them. "Hello, what are your climbing plans?" we asked, fearful of a cast of thousands on the route up Nelion. "We've come to climb Kilimanjaro." "Aren't you on the wrong mountain, mate? This is Mount Kenya." (needless to say this didn't go down very well). "We're climbing Mount Kenya to acclimatise for Kilimanjaro...' they patiently explained."
Our plan for the next day was to climb Nelion, spend the night in the well-appointed Howell hut on the summit, cross the gate of the mists to Batian the following morning, then return to Nelion to follow a rappel route back down the SE face. We got away at 6.30am but were delayed whilst a guided party of four threw stones from Mackinder's chimney onto the first pitch. Once they were out of the way though we were soon roping up at the start of the rising traverse reached the previous day. The traverse went smoothly in two halves until we found ourselves looking up Mackinder's chimney to the remains of a 100 year old rope, left over from the first ascent. The modern route continues around a corner which left us both impressed by the standard of the climbing. A struggle past a strenuous roof followed. Eventually we found ourselves on a comfortable scree ledge essentially at the top of Mackinder's chimney. We were on our way! We made rapid progress up several pitches on easier ground until we arrived at a curiously placed tin shelter just below the SE ridge: Bailey's bivvy is either "not recommended" in the climbing guide, or marked as "ruined" on the map. From the look of the place we agreed: what idiots would want to stay there? Us it would shortly turn out.
On the ridge we noticed copious amounts of cloud had built up unusually early in the day to the SW. A rumble of thunder floated across to us. As yet undeterred we traversed under a large pinnacle known as Mackinder's gendarme on a series of icy ledges and turned up towards the nick between the pinnacle and face. More thunder and the clouds were now surrounding us. After thrashing about on a steep corner we fell back to consider our position. We certainly didn't want to get caught in a thunderstorm on the exposed ridge above, neither did we want to withdraw to the base of the climb Ä we wouldn't have time for another attempt. A closer investigation of Bailey's bivvy was called for.
The bivvy was a ledge with a roof and outer wall of tin sheeting anchored to the rock, and an entrance opening sensationally over the SE face. Once inside, there was crouching room and enough space for one person to lie down. It started to snow and we resigned ourselves to our fate. The guided party, looking cold and miserable, abseiled past shortly after. Listening as the snow turned to hail clattering on the roof, time passed slowly: "What on earth are we doing in a hailstorm at 16,500 ft in half a tin shed bolted to a cliff face. It's times like these I wish I'd listened to what my mother told me..." "What did your mother tell you." "I don't know, I didn't listen." One thing was sure, if we were going to survive a whole night there we had better improve our stock of jokes.
After a pretty rough twelve hours, we looked out next morning across a sea of clouds to an angry red dawn. Fortunately the sun climbs rapidly at these latitudes, soon warming the air. We stiffly sorted ourselves out and hatched a new plan: dump as much kit as we dare in one rucksack and continue upwards 'climbing light' with the other. Our high point of the previous day was duly reached and the awkward corners overcome. The next pitch was supposed to be the crux of the whole climb and we had been told it went at Severe. I found myself nervously at the sharp end. But it was perfect climbing: good friction, excellent protection, warm rock, fresh air Ä in fact I was doing my best to ignore the several thousand foot of fresh air beneath my feet. After about 70 ft I landed on a comfortable ledge and brought Sean up. Above us the "ridge" continued extremely steeply to a blank wall of red rock. A precarious traverse suspended over another awesome abyss followed. Finally we could relax a little as the route climbed into a gully and up to a spacious ledge of white scree. A short chimney then two pitches of easy ground and we were on the top!
By this point we had been caught up by a specially-imported american Big Wall Man leading one of the OTT clients, and travelling very fast. "Thachimwasn-asdffcltsposedbe" he said in Big Wall language. No we didn't think the chimney was that hard either we replied, hazarding a guess at a translation. We took the necessary photographs, ate the necessary snack bars. The cloud parted briefly to reveal the E ridge of Batian mocking us from across the gate of the mists. Hmmm...Yorkshire lads 1 : Mt Kenya 1, we reckoned.
A recently placed series of stainless steel anchors have taken over as the standard rappel route off Nelion, which we now followed. One of the drops was spectacularly free-hanging down the blank wall we encountered on the way up. We picked up our bivvy kit, then followed a seemingly endless series of 25m rappels down the SE face. Level ground was greeted with big grins, and real joy at having climbed such a superb mountaineering route, even if we had missed out on Batian.
After a pleasant night (relatively speaking) in the tent, a cold wind forced us to pack up rapidly. Stephen suggested we walk out the Sirimon trail which was his favourite route. "Hakuna matata. Let's go", not realising we'd just let ourselves in for a twenty mile hike with heavy packs. This route goes around the N side of the mountain, which in February is in its winter condition. Then down a beautiful alpine valley, with sunbirds dancing amongst giant groundsel trees, and the twin peaks of Mount Kenya high above.
Much, much later we staggered into the Sirimon park gate, just in time to catch a lift into the town of Nanyuki where Stephen pointed us in the direction of a cheap but clean hotel. That evening we searched for soya on the menu of the hotel restaurant. We couldn't find it, so had to make do with steak and chips instead.
The special police unit responsible for a warren of tunnels, sewers and other subterranean thoroughfares beneath the streets of Paris was on heightened alert last week after the city's largely unknown underground attractions were featured in a television documentary. The illegal visitors shown wandering around the passage ways are known as cataphiles. The policemen who chase them through the tunnels have been dubbed cataflics. Their main fear now is that the television-inspired interest in sewer-strolling may result in a catastrophe.
Seen in the Sunday Times 31 January 1999
Fairy Cave Quarry Caves
After being closed for over a decade, the three most spectacular caves in Fairy Cave Quarry, Stoke St Michael, Mendip, are to be reopened to cavers.
Lengthy negotiations between the quarry owners, English Nature and a newly formed management committee have finally been concluded with a management plan being put into place with the agreement of all parties.
Due to the fragile nature of the three caves, Shatter, Withyhill and W/L, access will only be open to bona fide caving clubs by writing to the Committee. Party size will be limited and no novices are allowed. For the three caves named above a leadership scheme is in place. A trip fee of 1 per person will be charged to cover maintenance and general conservation. Full details will be given when applying for a leader.
Shatter, Withyhill and W/L have long been considered amongst the finest stalactite caves in the UK. Shatter is over 1000m in length, containing many beautifully decorated chambers and grottoes whilst Withyhill, although shorter at 700m, is equally well decorated. W/L is shorter again at 150m and contains some unusual crystal formations. None of the caves is in anyway physically demanding and are regarded as a photographer's paradise.
Great care is needed in all these caves to protect their unique nature and for this reason tight access controls are required.
Other caves in Fairy Cave Quarry may be visited with permission from the management committee but without the need of a leader. It is hoped that all the necessary work of retaping and clearing entrances will be completed by May.
For further information write to the Fairy Caves Management Committee at "Bryscombe", The Quarries, New Road, Draycott, Somerset, BS27 3SG
On behalf of the FCQ Management Committee
(From a visit several years ago I can only echo the sentiments above; the formations are magnificent and great care is needed to avoid damaging them. These caves are well worth visiting - Ed)
A recent announcement on the Cavers Digest stated that an expedition at the end of 1998 had succeeded in pushing the length of Lechuguilla to over 100 miles. It still remains fifth longest in the world on Eric Madeline's listings but at 160+ kilometres it is catching up on number 4 (the Holloch) at 175Km.
The Club Bus
Getting a helping hand on the way to Bull Pot Farm
By the shooting box on Leck Fell
The Postwar Craven Pothole Club
From rope and wood to wire & alloy
The war was well and truly over by 1946 and the Club still listed over forty members from preÄwar days. Enough to fill a bus, you might say, if they all turned up at once. Pennine buses of all shapes and sizes formed an inseparable part of the CPC. Edgar Smith, one of our founder members, always seemed to be driving and taking us to the most remote corners of the Dales; whether it was Bull Pot Farm or Ireby Fell. On one memorable occasion a stone gatepost had to be removed (it was replaced!) to enable the bus to finish turning round!
The Bus must have contributed greatly to the resurgence of the CPC; few people had cars or motorcycles and petrol was rationed anyway. One way of solving the problem was train and bicycle, but if you could catch the club bus at Skipton you had acquired a mobile club hut to serve as messÄroom, changing room and meeting place. If you were one of the lucky ones to arrive by car there was ample parking near that other Craven Pothole Club institution Ä Waterfall's Shop! Large stocks of maps catered for every activity and Arnold and Sidney passed on the latest news and acted as recruiting sergeants for the club as well as housing an already large library and providing a meeting place for the committee.
The 1947 Meets List included rather surprisingly a trip as far afield as South Wales at Easter. This became something of legend with stories of a journey by a train which failed to stop at Keighley and was caught at Leeds after a dash by taxi! The train arrived at Swansea and their destination at Glyntawe was only served by a bus that would have dropped them off a mile short at that time. A bit of bargaining took the bus the extra mile in exchange for a pint at the Gwyn Arms for the driver and the conductor! During that Easter WeekÄend Ogof Ffynnon Ddu, DanÄyrÄOgof, Pant Mawr and PorthÄyrÄOgof were visited. Some of the party even went down a colliery for a change!
It was probably a talking point whenever members got together during the war; and as soon as the war ended plans were made for the first postwar winch meet & camp at Gaping Gill. The name Jim Hill was inseparable from GG. Sadly he may only be remembered by us newcomers as an old man with a bad cough but a great sense of authority, until his death in 1951. It was common knowledge that he had been gassed in the 1914Ä18 War (hence the cough) but few knew that he had survived machineÄgun fire which by some miracle missed his body but shot him through both arms.
1948 saw an upsurge in membership; some introduced to the club at GG in 1947 and others by invitation to join in on meets. Numbers had trebled between 1946 and 1949! On a few very popular meets a second bus had to be arranged to cope with the crowds!
A 1948 Meets Card might appear a bit sparse toÄday with only twenty events listed of which two were Dinners! The Club ventured further afield than one might expect with two Lake District Meets and one Mendips. Jim Hill was there too with his beloved GG Meet, which some said was one thing that kept him going. No earth shaking events in 1948 but an important year none the less as Jimmy Nield suggested at the AGM that the CPC should have an Annual Journal. This idea was implemented in 1949 with the first of thirty six issues. Albert Mitchell edited the journal for the first five years; producing a first rate magazine.
A lot of fieldwork had already been done and this began to pay dividends. What we know as" The Malham Dig" (although there were earlier ones) began at the end of 1948 and looked promising from the start. That it did not succeed was not due to any lack of effort on the part of the Club. It was only abandoned when the entirely natural pothole reached a depth of ninety feet with the floor area increasing with every bucketful of spoil removed. Dr A Raistrick (our 1950 President) was reputed to have said "We may well be standing in a chamber as big as Gaping GillÄ all you have to do is remove the spoil!" True or not, what do you do next? The Dig was left in 1952 but only truly abandoned in 1964 when steps were taken to fill it in. By then it was only a mere fifty feet deep: forty feet of fill contributed by the general public flinging down stones!
If the Malham Dig was a failure there were successes to balance it. Car Pot, a near neighbour to Gaping Gill, gave up its secrets to Dennis Brindle & Co. and changed by their efforts from a 70ft pot to a real pothole leading into the Craven Passage with its superb formations.
The story of Car Pot may be unknown to many CPC members: Dennis Brindle's article in the Journal dismissed it with his characteristic understatement in just one page, but a crossÄsection & plan spoke louder than words showing the five pitches leading into the superb Craven Passage.
It seems little had happened there since the descent of the first forty five foot pitch by the YRC in 1909 and a CPC dig in 1933. It was one of those places which was recognised as having great potential if only a way through could be found. In April 1948 Arnold Waterfall's enthusiasm set everything in motion. What must have been hours of effort by Arnold, Brian Hartley and Alf Birkett digging at the bottom, convinced them that it could go. It was early May before the breakÄthrough finally came through the efforts of two Nelson lads Ä Dennis Brindle and Ken Wood. It was only too obvious, when a few of us followed in the steps of the pioneers, what Brian Hartley and Dennis as first down had to contend with in the Letter Box. The Crawl was even worse and those who got through must have found the rest including the final 130ft pitch a comparative joy. Of course it was not quite like that and exploration and survey was only completed by the end of August. Other club members were involved and only a few have been named but the honour of descending the final pitch for the first time belongs to Dennis and rightly so. It might be said to be a hole that sorts the boys out from the men and only a select minority reached the Craven Passage at that time. It must be easier now but how many of the Club's present membership have been down?
George Gill at Stump Cross Cavern joined the CPC in 1936 and was a good friend to the Club. He soon persuaded some of us that there really was plenty of scope for new discovery. When he heard that Len Cook was a surveyor it did not take George long to set us the task of relating surface features like the odd shakeÄhole to his underground domain! Club members were soon involved in producing a new survey of the system; for what reason escapes me now as there were already two or three cave plans in existence. The first dividend for the survey party was to be able to add Heaven and Hell to Stump Cross Caverns in August 1949. It was not a hard fought battle like Car Pot but more of a happy chance that brought this breakthrough. It seemed a good idea to start the survey of the lower reaches of the cave at the stream half a mile into the system and work towards the entrance. An even better idea was to take a supply of food and drink and a cooking stove. This was added to the burden of a theodolite and an awkward tripod. On arrival no one quarrelled with the suggestion that we should eat first and reduce the load or at least distribute it amongst the bodies present! A three course dinner followed by coffee made with two pint bottles of milk left the party in no state to start the survey and a reconnaissance was made instead. Only one of the party (WE Rose) had anything new to report and no one took it all that seriously. He had back and footed it up a "chimney" for nearly 20', looked through a rift almost blocked by a rock flake and come away convinced that he was looking into the darkness of a new cavern. In turn, with little enthusiasm, the chimney was climbed. Bill Rose had persuaded some that it was worth a go but the rock flake blocking the crawl would have to be removed. This was achieved the following Saturday before some of the party arrived and they had only a quick look at the new discovery before having to leave. Bill Rose and Len Cook were left to explore Heaven and Hell on their own. It added a fine stretch of decorated cave to Stump Cross and it was soon apparent that it was heading towards the old Shockle Shaft known to have led miners into natural cave. A linkÄup was then a distant prospect but November saw Stan Peckover, who had been one of the first down Car Pot, enter the November Series for the first time to bring us within a few yards of the Shockle Shaft Caverns. Certainly the most attractive feature in Heaven was "The Shawl"; a fine curtain across half the passage Ä it did not survive long.
There was already a keen rockÄclimbing fraternity within the club of which Sidney Waterfall and Brian Hartley were leading enthusiasts. Those of us who looked on such activities with some horror, preferred to do our climbing in the dark with rather more aids against the attraction of gravity.!
Gaping Gill was once again the highlight of the year with Jim Hill still keeping everyone on the right lines in 1949. Things have not changed all that much: the days were longer as the meet was at the beginning of August but this did not guarantee good weather. The club was able to visit the Northern Pennine Club's recently opened Stream Passage Pot with its three big pitches and exchange trips were made.
Perhaps it was an unconscious antidote to potholing that took a party of four led by Dennis Brindle off to France and the Pyrenees. It was a venture that encouraged others to have a go, even if as Dennis admitted their potÄholing consisted of a visit to Labouiche (a showcave) and some highly enjoyable walking and climbing around Andorra.
1950 was the year when the CPC really went further afield with members in Ulster and the Pyrenees. The first was planned and led by Phillip Tyas as a follow up to a YRC meet the previous year when the newly discovered and named Pollaraftra was descended. Phillip had found a tight crawl to byÄpass the sump leading into an extensive series of caverns only to be foiled by deep water and lack of time, nearly a mile into the cave. Phillip had to return and the YRC kindly agreed to him organising a CPC Meet in 1950. TheMaking CPC ladders - 1950's style
Len Cook on the 1950 Irish trip, demonstrating that it was possible to carry your caving kit - and a single 25ft ladder
party of sixteen was provided with an excellent breakfast by Hugh Holgate (our member in Ireland) and his wife on our arrival in Belfast. Lunch was enjoyed at the Northland Arms Hotel in Dungannon and a courtesy call made on the Town Clerk in Enniskillen on the way to our campsite at Mr. Barbour's Farm at Killesher. Transport was provided for the week by Sam Bryant and his pantechnicon: one way of transporting sixteen men and their gear around Fermanagh! The use of a large room with peat fire and dining table and two men from a daily rota to prepare a breakfast and evening meal made life quite civilised.
The party was soon enjoying the delights of Pollaraftra. Once through the seemingly endless tight crawl which Phillip had discovered byÄpassing the sump, the cave opened up into large caverns with superb formations. The pool which had stopped the party the previous year was crossed by wading but the rubber dinghy had to be brought in later. The honour of reaching the furthest point in the cave went to Phillip Tyas and Norman Brindle in 1950, but even these two stalwarts had to admit to being beaten by the wet and cold and the thought that they still had to get out of the cave!
The gear was removed the following day and a vow made to return the following year.
Most of the party were visiting the Marble Arch Caves for the first time, just revelling in the vast size of the place, and then dropping down into the Skreen Hill passage on one of the new alloy (Brindle) ladders. In case anyone should be misled; the CPC did not immediately throw away their wood and rope ladders and change to alloy. Not that there was anything wrong with them, in fact they looked very much like those in use now, the main difference being that the wire passed through holes in metal plugged rungs held in place by steel pins piercing both rung, plug, and wire. One member said, "I reckon they are better than a knotted rope." Others were kinder but relegated them to the bottom pitches of a pothole or places where they had to be carried through a long crawl. One might wonder which hole they had in mind? Another day brought its share of excitement with Dennis Brindle's discovery of a new hole which looked a certainty to connect with Pollasumera. Rocks were soon removed opening up an impressive chamber but the floor of massive boulders & deep fissures yielded nothing to the disgust of all concerned. It was christened Pollabrindle but now more correctly rendered as Pollnabrindle, if you happen to be looking for it.
Whitsun 1951 saw the Craven back in Ulster to get back down Pollaraftra and finish the job. It says something for the tenacity of some of the party that apart from the Leader (Phillip Tyas) others from the 1950 party were prepared to back him up. There were other attractions of course such as the unrationed fleshpots of Black Lion just over the border, and other fine caves and pots ready for exploration and photography. This time the camp site was at Derrygonnelly and catering by courtesy of Mr & Mrs Rogers. Travelling was once again via Belfast with breakfast at the Holgates and transport in Sam Bryant's pantechnicon with lunch at Dungannon.
Time was saved by being nearer to Pollaratra and not having to do our own catering. The rubber dinghy was once again eased and dragged through the crawl and for nearly a mile it was cursed and cosseted as a rather fragile item to the first canal. We had used a rope ladder on the first and second pitches but beyond the crawl alloys came into their own. All the gear was now in place with the unpleasant muddy climb before the second sump laddered to our relief by W Brocklesby. We would return the following day for the final push. By present day standards we were illÄprepared; the nonÄswimmers had a good excuse for letting the more amphibious members tackle the canals. A party of six left us sitting above the ladder pitch to which we had returned and made their way hopefully to the end of the cave. If memory of events that took place nearly fifty years ago will serve, Hugh Holgate was wearing a dryÄsuit (inclined to leak). Phil Tyas relied on woollies, John Frankland had dispensed with such dubious aids but wore a pair of trunks. The other three (Anderson, Willis and D Brindle) were dressed much like the rest of us. The canals varied from being shallow enough to wade, to deep enough to swim. The point came when the dinghy was really needed but six into a two man boat doesn't go and it was agreed that Hugh and Phillip should continue to the bitter end. They might have debated it at the time but at least they were on the move Ä the rest huddled together on their narrow ledge. It seemed like hours before the whole party was united back at the ladder climb and the wettest went out first. John Frankland could at least claim to be comparatively dry!
Nothing much went out of the cave at that time but a return was made to remove gear. Colour photographs had been taken and a simple cave survey completed. Eli Simpson was a great help in making it look quite plausible in the Journal! The underground survey was roughly set out on the surface and headed in the direction of a rising much as anticipated. The exploration was nicely wound up when the farmer at Leglands (whose bullock had made the first descent in 1948) much to our surprise asked to descend with his nephew. They went as far as the crawl and at Mr Flanagan's request one of the bullock's thigh bones was brought up and presented to him on the surface with due solemnity by Alf Birkett.
Whilst we were getting the gear out of Pollaraftra on the third day half the party were investigating Noon's Hole. Nothing new here for us but quite an epic demonstration of how to make a few ladders go a long way. The Pollaraftra party were just in time to help lifeÄline P Tyas up the daylight pitch.
The remaining three days were used to visit Marble Arch and Pollnagollum. The latter was memorable for a lake crossing (in the by now leaky dinghy) and for the sheer size of the place and the formations. Dennis Brindle showed John Frankland, Hugh Holgate and Len Cook a thirty foot cascade climb which led into a beautifully decorated oxÄbow with windows looking down into the river passage below. It may well have been a new discovery as nothing was marked or broken. The climb down, as remembered, was easier than expected.
Earlier in 1951 Penygent Pot had yielded its secrets up to the NPC and other clubs were able to see what they had , achieved. The long entrance crawl followed by twelve ladder pitches was obviously a place demanding respect. Whilst our party was in Ulster a BSA team was exploring Penygent Pot: sadly one of their party died of exposure. This fatality must have been at the back of our minds on many ensuing meets. Dennis Brindle was to lead a CPC party down on June 3rd and this proved to be a nine hour trip with a late exit as the first descent had not been made until noon. Another meet was planned for the following weekÄend. The small party of five should have included two more but all the tackle was in the pot and it was intended to leave it rigged for the following weekÄend. Dennis and Norman Brindle, Roy Swindlehurst, and John Frankland plus John Lovett of the YRC were all very capable potholers and all had gone well.
The bottom reached, they started on the return to the surface in good heart. This was certainly a place for the somewhat maligned alloy ladders but if you have been on an old rope ladder with all its disadvantages you might concede that against rock there is more to hold on to and more to put your feet on. John Frankland had already negotiated three pitches and it was on the fourth from bottom that he fell losing his footing against rock and then his hand grip. He landed in a shallow pool having clouted himself on a rock flake, briefly losing consciousness. His friends did everything that common sense dictated. Norman spread out ropes whilst Dennis supported him. John Lovett had left a sweater behind for John to wear and made as quick an exit as possible with Roy Swindlehurst. There was quite a fashion for dates at the time and John ate a few. He revived sufficiently to stand up from time to time, but he was badly bruised and shaken. It was his own conclusion that no bones were actually broken but any hopes he might have had of walking out under his own steam soon faded. He was kept as warm as possible but inevitably some hours had elapsed before the CRO arrived. Johnny was greatly revived by hot drinks and friendly encouraging faces. He was raised up the pitches wearing an enveloping suit and he told us how Bob Leakey had proved to be a tower of strength. So many took part in the rescue, at some points forming human mattresses to cushion John from the rocks, at others keeping up morale with hot drinks and biscuits. It was characteristic of Johnny that he was glad to be relieved of the warming bandage round his head before he was met by the press photograhers Ä He said "I had no wish to present such an impressive spectacle for them."
It was over twenty four hours after the fall that the rescue was completed. That Johnny survived the accident may well have been due to his high degree of fitness and shoulders developed by forestry work. My first news of the accident (on the meet I had missed) was front page headÄlines in the Daily Express at the breakfast table on the Monday! The thought went through my mind as I rang Arnold Waterfall Ä "would it have happened if I had been there"? I didn't flatter myself for long and Arnold assured me that there were as many helpers as they could cope with. Johnny made a perfect recovery but he admitted that his work as an overhead line surveyor felt a bit hard for sometime. The Craven were back down Penygent Pot the following weekÄend: devils for punishment you might think but they had good reason Ä a good selection of the club's tackle was down there to bring out!
The Gaping Gill Camp was held as usual at the end of July and over the Bank Holiday in 1951. Jim Hill was the Leader and everything was organised as efficiently as ever. We lived in hopes of finding something new; the BSA had conquered Disappointment Pot in 1944, Bar Pot in 1949 and the NPC Stream Passage Pot in the same year. All useful ways into Gaping Gill and more importantly Flood Exit was no longer the only alternative to the main shaft.
No one would have quarrelled with the opinion that there was still a great deal to be discovered and Dennis and Norman Brindle set about increasing the depth of the Old East Passage beyond Mud Hall. They succeeded in opening up a crack in Boulder Chamber which led by the following day into new ground by way of a hundred feet pitch with loose rocks. They gave it the very apt name of Avalanche Pot. Both Dennis and Norman were convinced at the time that there was yet another pitch if some rock. could be removed.
Gaping Gill was somewhat depleted by yet another French expedition which had departed on July 27th. That it coincided with Gaping Gill was not due to carelessness on the part of the organisers but dictated by it having to include the Bank Holiday to make the most of meagre vacation allowances, often tied to this date. Bob Crunden was the organiser although he admitted the idea really belonged to Maurice Hillary who had said; "Why not go to France instead of Ireland?" Bob set about planning the trip. He might have been tempted to commandeer a Pennine Bus in those days of limited private transport but settled on a rail journey. On their return we heard tales of how easy it had been to travel to Les Eyzies via Paris, bivouac in a large barn and combine visits to famous caves such as Lascaux and Padirac with lesser known holes. In fact a great time was had by all with an incredible amount packed into two weeks. No matter if no one could claim much original exploration. This trip might well have set the trend for years to come!
John Frankland was not the only CPC Member to be involved in an accident with a happy ending, as Lewis Railton along with friend Bill Little found themselves trapped by rising water in the already famous South Wales Cave, Ogof Ffynnon Ddu at the end of August 1951. They were both familiar with the cave and were undertaking further survey work. It was typical of them both that they had taken dry clothing to change into beyond the active stream passages and had what seemed adequate supplies of food and drink for an intended nine or ten hours. We got the whole story firsthand from Lewis and were impressed that this "old man" (he was forty four!) had survived. They had entered the cave on Saturday morning and only left it on Monday night when the water subsided sufficiently for a rescue party to enter. They had been able to keep hypothermia at bay by conserving their meagre rations to last for an estimated four days and likewise be able to heat some food and drink from time to time. Being rescued in three days they were able to enjoy the fourth day's ration and walk out of the cave unaided. Lewis was in no doubt that their survival without any ill effects was due to having a comparatively dry place in which to bivouac, dry clothing, a small cache of fuel and food and even the humble candle which provided both light and heat when the cold began to tell. At that time both Lewis and Bill must have been about as tough as they come!
This year was to be Jim Hill's last; he had seen the meet at GG through with his accustomed efficiency, but his battle against his disabilities came to an end when he died in November Ä a loss to the club of one of its earliest and most valued members.
All sorts of plans tend to be discussed at GG and one led to a small party returning in September to descend via Bar Pot. We knew of it as an easy way in from a previous trip in 1950 but this time Len Cook hoped to catch the Main Chamber in flood. It wasn't, so we didn't, but with three of us with cameras and a flash powder reflector on the Sandbank a very successful colour photograph was obtained of the Main Chamber one year before Tex Helm took his big shot in the "Big Room" of Carlsbad Caverns in the USA. The CPC is still using this photograph as a postcard in 1998.
The Great Stalactite discovered in Poll an Ionain
Ireland was beginning to become a habit and another party including some new faces amongst the stalwarts of 1951 headed for County Clare. Phillip Tyas was once again the leader and the Irish Arms at Lisdoonvarna the very height of luxury (the CPC was learning how to do it). Baker's "Caving" gave an excellent insight into what Co Clare had to offer and the dozen members of the party were not disappointed. A lot was packed into a short week with just about all the best holes explored to the limit. Poulnaelva was extended by an appreciable stretch of new passage of the sort that does not invite you to return for more; like every other bit of tight and depressing passage it could have led into something really big. Poll an lonain, within sight of Ballynalacken Castle, did that in very fine style! As is so often the case the discovery was a combination of astute observation and good luck, plus a certain amount of hard work Ä not necessarily in the hole that yielded the result!
All credit must go to Brian Varley and Mike Dickenson who entered a small hole almost hidden by ivy and traversed crawls, mud and boulders to arrive at the Main Chamber with its superb giant stalactite. Those in Fermanagh's Pollnagollum are marvellous, but this single stalactite formation estimated at thirty feet in length in glorious isolation at the centre of a large chamber took some beating. The rest of the party were able to share in the excitement the following day.
It may have been as a mark of respect to Jim Hill that there was not a Gaping Gill Camp in 1952 or that without his leadership it did not go ahead in the usual way. The opportunity to have a Summer Camp at Lancaster Hole must have weighed heavily in any decision as it would give some members of the club their first opportunity of making the through trip to Ease Gill without the earlier cloak and dagger incursions by night in 1949Ä51. The Meet under Dennis Brindle's leadership got off to a slow start but soon there was plenty of activity not only in Lancaster but just about all the associated pots. Mr. Pearson was still at Bull Pot Farm and contributed greatly to an enjoyable camp but it would never take the place of Gaping Gill on the Meets List!
Arthur Butcher, a keen cave diver, was the leader of a meet which would give CPC members their first opportunity to visit an extension to Peak Cavern opened up by diving. The party assembled in the cave entrance on the night of Sept 13th; some of us forewarned of the duck, others less prepared! It proved highly successful and Derbyshire began to appear on the Meets Card.
Anyone caving regularly soon became aware of the destruction caused by the passage of bodies through caves. Curtains were smashed, stalactites broken and even stalagmites uprooted. Boots crushed crystal pools and gour formations under foot. Much of the damage was inevitable but sheer carelessness and vandalism was involved too. The CPC was at the forefront when the Cave Preservation Society was formed in September 1952 with Butcher, Cook, Railton and Mitchell elected to the Council at a Leeds meeting. To-day there is still a recognition that more needs to be done and cavers are more aware of the fragility of many caves. Cave preservation is still one of the Club's objectives.
The CPC has been fortunate in having a willing band of masochists prepared to spend long hours underground in conditions that elsewhere would demand double pay and danger money. It would be invidious to single out one or two members for their efforts because every surveyor needs his acolytes to hold the other end of a tape or carry the bits and pieces needed in this arcane pursuit. Nearly every CPC Journal was accompanied by a batch of cave surveys from 1949 onwards covering new discoveries and known caves. It is the potholers way of planting a flag and claiming a new territory. New technology has advanced the art to even higher degrees of accuracy but as yet some time has to be spent underground!
It was opportune that John Hobson's lone probing amongst boulders in Dow Cave met with success in the Club's Silver Jubilee Year of 1953. Twenty five years gone and now a membership of over one hundred and sixty.
John Hobson's discovery was an example of how much new passage can remain even in a cave known for centuries. It was not a long siege, in fact it was only a few days after his perception that the draught would lead to something that it went! He and a friend armed with a crowÄbar opened up the climb through boulders which was as threatening then as it is now. A week later John shared his find with Alf Birkett, Dennis Brindle, Arnold Waterfall and Bob Crunden. It was soon apparent that the miners associated with Dow Cave had been here too, but all memory lost and nothing recorded. This fine stretch of cave held some superb formations ranging from giant stalactites down to crystalline" gardens". The damage usually associated with caves entered by miners was not apparent Ä perhaps they too were held in awe by the beauty of this part of a fine but comparatively drab cave? The exploration was followed by a survey of both the old and new parts of Dow Cave.
The Club was still venturing overseas. A small party almost did a reÄrun of the Brindle's French Trip and yet another visit was made to Ireland. Led by the indefatigable Phillip Tyas the CPC returned to Mr. Barbour's friendly home and farm at Killesher. This week in June 1953 followed very much the same pattern as before but three cars were used to transport the team across to Fermanagh after yet another of the renowned Holgate breakfasts on arrival in Belfast. The meet was not memorable for new discoveries but much hard work was put into surveys of Pollnagollum, Legacurragh Pot, Peter Bryant's Hole, Black Pot and Pollnaclanawley. Certainly a good time was had by all!
Any honest history has to include the good and the bad. The "victems" of the Lancaster Hole Call Out were none the worse for their adventure when they were helped out at Lancaster Hole after an anticipated four hour through trip to Ease Gill turned into a fourteen hour epic. It was the usual story of a party that got split into two. Of course it shouldn't happen but it does (said with some feeling). This time our friends were embarrassed when the CRO came to their rescue and felt this more than their own discomfort. The CRO members say rightly enough that they would rather find you cold and tired rather than dead or damaged! It would be only human to prefer not to be called out at all. It was not used as an excuse but this had been a memorable day for the rest of us with a meet including members from five other clubs or associations; a roll call would have listed such notables as Norman Thornber, Gordon Warwick, Lewis Railton, Bob Leakey and Arnold Waterfall. Those of us who took the County Pot entrance and surfaced at Lancaster are hardly likely to forget being hauled up by a lifeÄline party obviously keen to get everyone out and away. All out (we thought) and tackle removed by 7.00 pm.
The Club lost two of its early members in 1954 Ä Dr. George Annesley and James Thompson: their contribution will have been recognised in an earlier chapter.
Real pioneering work was being carried out in the Dow Cave area at Kettlewell. Spurred on no doubt by the success of "Hobson's Choice", a sink in Caseker Gill was tested with fluorescein and the flow proved to the Miner's Chamber of Dow Cave. It must have been at the back of Dennis's mind (we were often surprised just how much there was) that a sink in Dowber Gill could also yield important information. Few of us would have shared Dennis's belief in a possible connection between Dowber Gill and Dow Cave! It was tested in the Autumn of 1953 and the green colouring appeared at Dow Cave! The connection was proved but it was only at the second attempt that the true connection was made at the insignificant hole dropping down from the old great Miners Chamber. It seemed logical to investigate what lay beyond The Duck. Only a short stretch of high narrow passage separates it from a blockage with a murky siphon pool below. Norman Brindle attacked it with his usual determination after deciding that it was not much more than a short duck. Dennis followed and the third member of the party Bob Powell managed to squeeze through above water level. The way on appeared open but constricted: certainly warranting a return in January 1954 when Norman and Dennis returned. What appears on the survey as a straight passage, without any complications, was in fact a very frustrating rift in many places too tight to pass at one level and too wide to straddle at another. Gypsum Traverse was the limit of this exploration but an encouragingly strong draught came from the direction of Dowber Gill. This is no place for a blow by blow account but later in January the same two returned accompanied by Arthur Hardy. The siege continued with visits in April and May and on the latter trip it was felt that Providence Pot could not be far away. Norman Brindle and Bob Powell followed up with a survey that proved it to be true.
The attack on Providence Pot, not surprisingly, ran concurrently with the Dowber Gill Passage. Success did not come easily; sinkÄholes were dug out and abandoned until one showed real promise. Even then a succession of determined digging trips only contributed a good sized cavern but no obvious way onwards! Blasting was resorted to before it was decided to give the place (or rather the participants) a rest in the August. The gap had been closed to about three hundred yards: it could not be left like that!
Whilst all this was going on a Whitsun Meet was held in South Wales which included Arthur Hardy and Bob Powell; no doubt resting from their efforts around Dow Cave. Everyone remarked on the generosity of the SWCC in their guiding and generally showing off their superb caves.
Albert Mitchell, the Editor of the CPC Journal, was travelling further afield to the Gold Coast (now Ghana) to take up a new appointment. If there were any doubts about how he could be replaced we need not have worried as Phillip Tyas stepped into the breach to produce an excellent 1954 Journal, ably assisted by Alf Birkett, who after another five years took over the Editorship in 1959.
It is impossible to be everywhere at once! That applies to the potholing world as much as anywhere else. The CPC missed out on Langcliffe Pot after N and D Brindle
Brew Chamber in Dowber Gill
Norman Brindle diving in New Goyden 18 August 1957
(J Batty, R Thorley, N Brindle, C Wade?, A Smith, J Bradley, RG Coe, Unknown)
and R Powell revisited this CPC discovery dating back to 1936. They extended the 120ft pot by an estimated quarter of a mile until it ended in the most depressing way imaginable. I suspect it was one of those places that you vow never to return to! Certainly those who tried their luck in 1968/72 achieving a present day length of over six miles and a depth of 400 feet earned every credit in a pothole described as being no place for a novice and strenuous in the extreme. Some would add "and best avoided"!
Five years seemed to be the stint for an Editor, but it came as a surprise to many of us when Arnold Waterfall retired from office as Club Secretary after twenty years! Once again we need not have worried how the irreplaceable would be replaced as Bob Crunden ably filled the breach. Club members would call in at "Boot's Chemists" in Keighley where Bob was Manager to purchase sundry items such as flashpowder and film to hear what was going on up in the Dales. One such visit led to a midnight trip into Lancaster Hole in 1949: of course Bob came along too. His own concoction of smokeless flash powder was perhaps unjustly christened "flashless smokeÄpowder" although it probably created no more fog than the more famous Johnson's!. Bob Crunden continued as Club Secretary until 1959.
John Hobson had taken a job in New Zealand soon after his success in Dow Cave. We now had a member in the Antipodes sending us regular reports and photographs of what that attractive country had to offer. The potholing interest still continues in his son Peter, a recent visitor to this country who was able to join club members on a number of trips.
The CPC Pyrenees Expedition of 1955 was at least pointed in the right direction Ä La Grotte de la Cigalere, but after taking in the delights of Les Eyzies and Andorra only limited time was left of the fortnight for real potÄholing. Many colour photographs were taken in Cigalere and the fine cave enjoyed as far as the first cascade climb in the river passage. Jack Bradley and Len Cook reckoned it was worth the trip!
Others had travelled down to Mendip at Easter as part of what is now a long association between clubs and enjoyed the hospitality of the Wessex Cave Club, Bristol Exploration Club and the University of Bristol SS. Eastwater Swallet and Swildon's Hole were visited apart from surface attractions like the Cheddar Gorge.
1955 was remarkable as being one of those rare occasions when a descent of Mere Gill was possible! This might give rise to mirth in 1999 but unless drought conditions shrunk the "mere" entry was ruled out. If Mere Gill appeared on the Meet's Card the usual report was that it had proved impossible and the meet diverted to another hole. This time with rather more logic applied, a snap meet was called when it looked possible. The weatherman was kind and what must have been a record number descended the pot. If there is some doubt as to how many reached the bottom Bob Crunden calculated that some three dozen went as far as the third pitch!
It may have been a portent of things to come that in July the bus from Skipton was cancelled for lack of support and cars provided the transport to the Gingling Hole Meet. In fact it was probably no more than the odd occasion when some had gone ahead to camp and others were away on holiday. We did not give it much thought at the time but only too obviously private transport was becoming more common. It was not to be a sudden change; a strong determination to keep the bus, even by those who rarely used it, gradually yielded to the realisation that it would have to go eventually.
It was very much the same story with alloy ladders. We were using them in 1950 as a supplement to the wood and rope but the majority of the club still preferred the latter in 1955. Albert Mitchell's authoritative 1955 article on belays, ropes and ladders completely ignored the use of alloys!
The Club has always contained a strong climbing element but this is not the place to recall such activities any more than regular potholing meets can go down in history other than in the "Journal" or "Record". Such accounts always made fascinating reading: it would be sad if no record had been kept. We all enjoyed a vicarious thrill to hear that the CPC had contributed four rope ladders for the 1955 Kanchenjunga Expedition. As the third highest peak in the world it was a place few of us were likely to visit even if we wanted to! Something much more suitable came along the following year.
We were invited to send a member to join the International Team tackling the Berger in 1956 and Bob Powell proved to be just the man for the job, not only taking a full part in the expedition but being in the party that reached the sump at 360O ft.
It can only be natural to find news of a discovery in your own backyard more exciting than one found abroad. Especially when it filled a gap in the Nidderdale Mastercave. Some might quarrel with the title but the Manchester Hole Ä Goyden Pot Nidd Heads series takes all the drainage of the Upper Nidd valley although the upper levels of the cave system survive only in small remnants not easy to find or recognise. Goyden Pot gives the impression of being deeper than it is and it was thought that the difference in level between the last sump in Gaskell's Passage and Nidd Heads gave little scope for open caverns. A very faulty analysis as logic would tell one that a river passage at its present level with only a small gradient could still contain massive caverns above the water-level: if you could find a way in! In the December of 1955 something practical was done when N Brindle, R Powell and N Clarkson measured the depth of Goyden Pot to the final sump as 115ft leaving a further 65ft fall to Nidd Heads. This must have encouraged our friends to follow the river bed down valley where the best prospect was found at the Dry Wath sinks below Thrope House. They were back again at New Year with the extra support of Arthur Hardy and Steve Warren to start opening up one of the sinks. Logically the one chosen was the most northerly of the sinks which was taking one of the Nidd feeders down to what could well be the sought after cavern. This guidance may have been very encouraging but the presence of icy water was not! They persevered and digging soon opened up a 15' fissure; blasting extended this to 25' but more remained to be done. Good sense prevailed and a return was not made until March. Conditions were still pretty horrendous, with loads of gravel to remove under a continual showerbath, when Norman, now accompanied by brother Dennis, returned. Success seemed to be within reach when it proved possible to crawl through to a parallel fissure. A further crawl led to the top of what looked like being a 40ft pitch!
It was not going to be all plain sailing on the next visit at Easter but before long they were looking down into the superb river passage. That both ends terminated in sumps came as no surprise but it added a considerable stretch of magnificent railway tunnel sized passage to the known cave. On other days the Brindles were joined by Arthur Hardy and Jack Bradley to make the entrance safe and continue the new exploration. This was only completed when with the addition of Arnold Waterfall and Boyce Sharp to the party it proved possible to lower the floor level and reduce the upstream sump to a duck with a minimal airspace. The naked duckers were able to restore their circulation round a bonfire on their return. That a bonfire was possible showed foresight on the part of one member of the party! Some avens were investigated, one of which would later be linked with a new drier entrance.
The survey showed a cave, which when followed down stream went due south, due east, due north and then east before turning south again at the downstream siphon! We did not have to wait long for the new entrance and the tight wet entry was replaced by Norman Brindle's discovery of the present bedding plane entrance (about 150 yards lower down stream) which after a few hours work opened the way down to the river via the largest of the south avens.
The club was still active on Greenhow but there had not been a great deal to report since 1949. The 1950 survey had given a clue to a connection between the Chamber of Pillars in the Show Cave and Raistrick's Cavern on the way to the stream. A quick look had given hopes of something but Len Cook and Jack Freeman did not even dare to mention to George Gill what was on their minds. Jack would sneak in and remove a few rocks when George was out of the way and it was November 1955 before he heard about it. He not only approved but joined Jack with great enthusiasm! They were joined by P Sanderson and G Holmes who had been helping George with work in the Show Cave. This Sunday proved the way through was by working upwards rather than through the boulders and it was left until the following weekend. Jack and Len were not due to return for a fortnight but George had promised to keep us posted on further progress. This came sooner than expected by all concerned! After an hours work on Sunday Dec 3rd aided by a small charge of explosive a way through appeared. Beyond a massive roof fall was the continuation of the Show Cave Ä a beautifully decorated cavern some 15ft high and 20ft wide extending for 120ft. We set about surveying the new cave the following Sunday with the luxury of electric light by way of an extension from the Show Cave lighting. This should have been easy but not being used to working under such ideal conditions Len got his figures mixed up and left Jack Bradley at the other end of the tape down a hole with little to do but gaze at the floor. He came out with a piece of bone and calcite: the first find of this sort in the whole cave! George had professional contacts and a small herd of reindeer was excavated. The report said they dated from the end of the last Ice Age but it was difficult to see how they had been washed into this corner when the cave was sealed with glacial drift! Later discoveries and dating has pushed their origin back to the beginning of the last Ice Age when a stream still swept through the present Show Cave. It is nice to be proved right even if you have to wait for nigh on forty years!
Apart from the regular club meets members were finding new places abroad. Lewis and Majorie Railton in a party of six journeyed to Slovenia in two cars ( a Ford Consul and a Morris Minor). The caves they visited might have been classed as show caves but they were still pretty wild and without too many amenities. Quite exciting boat trips were involved in some caves, and one might wonder why Yugoslavia did not immediately become a CPC haunt: a three and a half day car journey probably put us off! A journey across the water to Ireland would remain the most popular destination for most of us in search of pastures new.
No meet had been held at Gaping Gill since our old friend Jim Hill died in 1951 and it would take a brave man to get it going again; fortunately one was available in John Frankland who took on this onerous task in 1956! He must have regretted it more than once but Tom Jones led the fettling of gantry and gear and Bob Crunden ably arranged transport and other vital items. Everyone rallied round only the weather failed to coÄoperate: nothing changes! The meet would be remembered by many as their first chance to go down but Dennis Brindle is unlikely to forget his long spell in the chair half way up the shaft when the engine failed. It is said that he was completely forgotten as our mechanics struggled to bring the engine back to life. Dennis was brought up eventually. John put it beautifully when he said, "Dennis made no comment but, it may have been that he could not, rather than that he did not want to!"
It would have been a pretty safe bet that in any one year apart from having climbers on the more local crags some would be enjoying the Cuillin Ridge in Skye: 1956 was no exception with a party there and another member WJ Anderson taking part in a circuit of Monte Rosa on the Swiss/Italian border.
The Three Peaks Walk twice within 24 hours may be an idea that delights or appals but NG Nicholson did just that in the company of two like minded friends in 1956. Of the four who started the walk only one dropped out after the first round. The others finished well within the twenty four hours. Purists would not approve as they used the railway for part of the journey; albeit on foot!
Greenhow was still yielding up its secrets but it was proving to be hard work. Countless holes were tried before one of two probables in Mongo Gill showed promise and what is now North Shaft was dug out to a depth of 47ft in 1957. Before it broke through South Entrance was opened up leading into the new cave and the unsuccessful North Shaft was filled in to placate the farmer. Mike Dickinson soon produced a report and survey which with names like The Maze and The Shambles gave some idea of the complexity of the place. It was one of those holes that was sure to go eventually but no one could have guessed how long it would take.
Few of us would have aspired to taking part in a Himalayan expedition to the Jugal Himal but Andy (WJ) Anderson, known to many of us as an able potholer was one of the Yorkshire Rambler's Expedition in April 1957; their objective being the summit of Great White Peak at over 22,000ft. Sadly tragedy struck when all seemed to be going well. An avalanche swept away a party of four into a crevasse burying the Leader Crosby Fox and two sherpas: by some miracle the forth member of the party George Spenceley survived. Andy was only too well aware of the risks as he said, it was not going to be an Alpine Holiday!
John Frankland with Tom Jones as joint Leader returned for another Gaping Gill Camp. Not surprisingly a return was made to Avalanche Pot but further progress only allowed a view of the noisy water flowing down a "drainpipe" rather than another pitch. The meet remains in the memory as something of an idyll with hot sun and clear blue skies. Some even complained of the heat: of course every day wasn't like that! Time moves on and even an artifact like the Holden Gantry could not last for ever. Some of us mourned its demise, after all it was beautifully simple, all of a piece and tailor made for the job. It says something for its quality even in old age, that a farmer handed over five pounds for it! A tidy sum in 1957.
The climbing fraternity seemed to get further afield and a party of four ventured as far as Okstindan in Norway in the July under the leadership of MP Jackson. It must have sounded like an unspoilt paradise for all fellow mountaineers.
Irish Meets were still proving popular and so the CPC were off again in 1958. This time a different route was taken by the short sea crossing between Stranraer and Larne Ä no pantechnicons these days just three cars for a party of a dozen under the leadership of Arthur Hardy. The Central Hotel at Manor Hamilton proved a good choice and would be used by other parties in later years. Some progress was made at Teampol Shetric and two of the Largy Rifts were descended. Far more promising was Barytes Pot at Gleniff. Any one who has been there will remember the long. climb up from Glencar Lough and the eventual arrival beyond the old mine at a valley very much like one in the Dales. A stream fell down a small shaft and offered an exciting prospect of what might lie below. This venture ended with the frustration of an 80ft deep hole leading to a passage and a pool where a massive boulder allowed one to look along but not enter another 40ft of cave. Thus ended the second day: a return was not made until 1970!
Birksfell Cave appeared from time to time on the Meets Card but, although a sporting and attractive hole, its length of only a third of a mile did not take up a lot of time. It was one of those places that had to go, but another sixteen years had to pass to find just how much lay beyond the Bradford Crawl. It was on one of these meets that Paul Garland and Brian Hartley sought for something new and found Kirk Gill Pot just above Hubberholme. It was opened up the following week when Paul was joined by Arthur Smith who made the first descent into what proved to be a fine stretch of cave. That it proved to be a through route exiting down stream at Kirk Gill Cave was an added bonus.
PL Tyas's spell as Editor ended when Alf.(AS) Birkett took over In 1959; a position he was to hold for eight years. The Club has been fortunate in having members available not only to take on the varied tasks of running the club but also helping to put on record what has been achieved. It is doubtful whether much would have been recorded without urgent reminders to send in that meets report or promised article on a favourite subject.
Greenhow was still slow to yield up its secrets and North Pot was one of those holes that any digger might have sold to any interested party for a pint or even given away free. We had more or less written it off in 1949 as one of those holes that had potential but anyone able to extend it beyond its depth of 35ft would have earned every inch. The challenge was taken up by David Judson, aided by John Ross and G Blenkhorn. The bottom of this tight and awkward pot was reached at 90ft. A pothole like this is a rare item on Greenhow and of course it could have led into something big.
Mongo Gill was still promising and another breakthrough occurred in the process of carrying out a resurvey to check a discrepancy. Entry was made into another series of caverns beyond The Shambles when John Holding broke through. Further survey work led to the realisation that North Shaft had been within three feet of breaking through! The feeling of impending doom when using the South Entrance was sufficient to encourage the reopening of North Shaft, inspite of the many tons of rock to be removed. Soon after this work was completed Alex Bottomley and Jim Nurse broke into the Luckstone Level and cavern 358. There was still a long way to go before the link between Mongo and Shockle!
Boreham Cave in Littondale has intrigued potholers for years with its fifty yards of passage ending in a clear still pool. What lay beyond the pool was a matter of conjecture for most of us: the odd brave soul stripped off, held their breath and ducked under. It was reported that a series of ducks led to a dry cave followed by a siphon. Both Norman and Dennis Brindle tested the cave in 1958 and returned in 1959 equipped with an aqualung to penetrate beyond the siphon. Norman was able to report reaching a dry chamber a hundred yards long ending in a choke of pebbles.
There had not been a Gaping Gill Camp in 1958 for a very good reason Ä we had sold the Gantry, but steps were in hand to replace it. It was not a cloak and dagger exercise when Brian Varley was sent equipped with camera to record the Bradford PC Gantry at their Whitsun Camp. The Bradford were very helpful in providing specifications and a list of what would be needed. A CPC party was able to join the Bradford at their 1959 Meet and get handsÄon instruction on erecting a gantry from scaffolding. The whole exercise paid off and the Club had a functioning gantry and winch for the Meet although it must have been an anxious time for the Tom Pettit and Tom Jones as joint leaders. A very youthful Alex Bottomley and Jim Nurse were already taking an active part in fettling the winch and overcoming problems with that most important device Ä the brake. Jim stayed on for a week's spell as Leader. Everything was back on course for regular annual meets at Gaping Gill
There was a bit more excitement in the Hubberholme area when Arthur Hardy, who had spotted a likely prospect in the Spring, finally persuaded D Brindle, J Batty and Randy Coe to join him in investigating it in the Autumn! It was not the sort of place to attract hoards of visitors unless they were addicted to low wet crawls and a not too generous airÄspace above water level in a stretch of canal. The unpleasantness was mitigated by a chamber of reasonable dimensions and some attractive stalactite formations including a four foot long straw. One wonders if it has survived? The cave was surveyed to 250 yards and left as a future prospect for digging in the rather confined space at the far end. It was named after its surrounding vegetation Ä Bracken Cave.
Marble Sink, adjacent to Marble Pot on The Allotment, was listed by Thornber in 1959 as 45ft long. It was not the sort of place to tempt anyone other than the small slim and fit to even check whether he had got it right and that it did become too narrow at 40'! John Raw managed to coax David Judson and Norman Haighton to have a go. Their report on how they had pushed it down two pitches to finish at 50Ä60ft in a tight rift could be calculated to keep out all but those dedicated to tight places and loose rocks. It must count as one that got away as it was eventually pushed by ULSA to a a quarter of a mile and 350' deep, parallelling Marble Pot. It will never be on the list of popular meets!
One of the saddest events in the Club's thirty years existence was the death of David Priestman in the Dowber Gill Passage. He was only eighteen when his life was ended in an instant by a fall of rock in the so aptly named terrible traverse. Having overheard him and his friends discussing their plans on a club meet a few weeks earlier somehow made it all the more poignant. It was some consolation that it was pure chance and no blame could be attached to any member of the small party.
No history would be complete without a mention of BM (Monty) Grainger and his well organised Gaping Gill survey. 1960 was the year that we saw him in action and he also became a member of the Craven. We gained a distinguished member almost at the time that we lost one in EE Roberts, an honorary member of the club since 1948, who died at the age of 86. He was always ready to relate his latest experience on how he had pushed some hole to the very bottom and was certainly active well into his seventies! He had already been a member of the YRC for forty years when he became an honorary member of the CPC.
Some might wonder why the departure of Joe Coates from the Station Inn at Ribblehead should be recorded, but anyone who remembers him or actually enjoyed his unusual hospitality will agree that it was the end of an era. If you went into the bar you moved back a few decades to a time when lighting was a Tilley Lamp and the ale was dispensed from a jug. How Joe kept the score was a little baffling. Some may have a recollection of Joe inspecting them at the back door before being regarded as suitable to stay the night, perhaps in that double bed with a ridge down the middle, and enjoying a breakfast which included a generous slice of Joe's home cured bacon. Joe moved into Skipton where he kept in touch with the Craven.
South Wales was the venue for the Whitsun Holiday and a small party including CL Railton, J Nurse, D Hodgson, Len & Sylvia Cook, under the Leadership of Alex Bottomley enjoyed an eventful trip. Visits were made to Ogof Ffynnon Ddu, PortÄyrÄOgof, Pw11ÄyÄRhyd and Town Drain, but the highlight of our visit was Agen Allwedd The cave was new to most of us and the rumours of a chamber 5,000ft long was really no great exaggeration as a passage of such dimensions could well be classed as one.
A meet in South Wales cannot be mentioned without noting that the Craven were once again in Ireland where a small party of J Batty, A Bottomley, R Coe, J Nurse and D Judson journeyed from Dublin in the July. They took in both the Old and New caves at Mitchelstown, Killarney and on to Lisdoonvarna and the Cliffs of Moher. Now the most exciting part unfolded with a visit the two risings which combine to form the Fergus River. One was marked as Poulnaboe, the other was unnamed and inaccessible but a small dry cave was found nearby. One can never be sure that no one else has found your new discovery but here it was evident that although the cave might have been entered no one had penetrated very far. It soon changed from an ordinary small passage into something really fine with large chambers and unspoilt formations reached by a climb into the roof to bypass a boulder choke that had otherwise signalled the end of the cave. The cave was surveyed to a length of a third of a mile and given the impressive name of PollÄnaÄClochÄGreanta with a view to changing it if any other name was known. Colman suggested that it should be named after the Townland as Ballycasheen Cave. A case of trying too hard perhaps?
Another worthwhile exercise was a descent of PollÄnaÄLeprechauns which had been partly descended by the YRC. The removal of some boulders enabled a descent to over 275ft (with 300ft of passage) to be made with six ladders. A plan and crossÄsection was made. The area offered a choice of many open shafts but all seemed to choke at about a 100ft.
The club was back at Gaping Gill at the end of July. One cannot say it was notable for its bad weather (it was anyway), which would be remembered by Hugh Bottomley and his party down from Glasgow. They returned wet and frustrated never having set foot in the deluged Main Chamber! This meet under Brian Varley's leadership, inspite of the bad weather proved surprisingly successful. It was the first time members had been able to avail themselves of the new MudÄHensler's connection with Disappointment Pot. Another welcome arrangement was the sharing of Flatts Barn with the Bradford PC as a storage place for much of the GG gear. John Frankland was to remember this meet as the one where he was chased round the Main Chamber by the guide wire girder after releasing it before his intended ascent in the chair. Those at the top would recall the shock of the arrival of an empty chair dragging up a tangle of wire and no Johnny! All sorted happily by lowering the chair again.
The CPC had never had a club cottage. We looked with some envy on other clubs that possessed one and the matter was raised at AGMs. It was not a simple matter of raising funds and buying one or even renting suitable premises. It was generally agreed that ideally it would be centrally placed, have easy access, and be easily maintained. The question of where it should be sited was dictated by what might be on offer. At one time the club could be said to have two cottages on Greenhow rented by individual members; but this could in no way be regarded as central. A general look out was called for and sundry properties considered. The years rolled by and it was 1961 before the tenancy of No 2 Foredale Cottages was taken on by the club. It was not the idyllic Dales Country Cottage but a three story house in a row above Helwith Bridge. It could in no way be described as commodious with only two bedrooms but it had a magnificent view. It was rented but without too much expense it was adapted to accommodate eighteen men plus a few more in the attic! It was to serve the club for the next four years.
Ireland was still calling our members back; this time for a week in Co Clare and a second week in Co Leitrim. A great deal of time was spent following the map to see what marked features were actually caves or potholes. A return was made to Poll na Cloch Greanta but little added to the 1960 exploration. There was more excitement to be found at the Cullaun series of caves where new ground was broken with the discovery of Cahermaan Cave which was surveyed to over half a mile and a connection made to Cullaun 5. The cave ended, as so often happens, partially blocked by calcite and demanding a return
Another hole named on the map as Poulnagollum near Kilfenora fell into the same category with a calcite barrier at the end of its surveyed length of about one hundred yards and a depth of fifty odd feet it had promise.
The Club Bus was still a feature of many meets with Edgar Smith at the wheel:(Was he always there?) The question raised was how long could it continue. The Pennine Bus Company had provided us with transport from the earliest days of the Club; they had got bigger over the years but could still be classed as "small". There was no longer a place for these in general service and their replacements at thirty feet long and eight feet wide would prove over large for the routes we frequented! How long would it be before the Club Bus became a thing of the past? We had been warned but the bus still appeared on the Meets Card for about ten occasions each year up to 1966 and it was not until 1968 that a subtle change occurred; now an asterisk indicated those meets with a bus rather those without one: such meets had dwindled to seven by 1969. It was 1970 before the bus disappeared from the Meets Card!
John Frankland was once again Leader for the Gaping Gill Meet in 1962. This was to be the year of the new winch and the old Lister engine was replaced to complete the modernisation. All did not go smoothly as any teething troubles had to be dealt with over the meet; by one means or another everything was kept going to a successful end.
Monty Grainger's party were in residence continuing their mammoth task of resurveying the Gaping Gill System. Ron Pringle and Len Cook combined efforts with two types of Tilley Lamp Floodlights to illuminate Gaping Gill in the process of each producing a colour cine film. The Main Chamber was seen to great advantage and the group of large stalactites lit up to great effect. The weather was in no way remarkable with storms and floods and the planned schedule for dismantling the gear was only achieved by Ron Pringle's floodlight permitting work after dark for the first time.
John Hobson (our member in New Zealand ) was taking part in the exploration of some superb potholes with great depth potential. We could never claim other than a vicarious share in their exploration but he might have started a mass emigration of CPC Members to the Antipodes!
Not so far afield, but far enough for most of us, were the mountains of Northern Spain. Los Picos de Europa was the destination for Mike Walker, Jeff Cowling and Stephen Craven in 1962. They spent their holiday walking and logging possible new holes, surveyed several small caves and on the last day (of course!) located a small opening that could well prove to be a deep pot. An excuse to return in 1963.
The Craven were back down the Berger with David Judson following in the steps of Bob Powell in 1956. He was part of an all British team which reached the sump at 3700': a fine achievement on ladders! David mentioned that at least one of the party had abseiled down most of the big pitches which surprised us at the time.
One reason for a number of notable club members being missing from the 1962 Gaping Gill Camp was that it coincided with an Irish Meet centred on Co Fermanagh. It was a good opportunity to make a descent of 300ft Reyfad Pot and worth recording that it was laddered entirely with one length of alloy ladder and descended solely by. N Brindle. All agreed that the YRC had opened a fine hole; perhaps something equally good lurked out of sight around Reyfad?
The discovery and exploration of Pollnacrom proved to be quite an epic from start to finish; all the more so as it had come early enough in the course of the meet to give everyone a chance of getting to the bottom and the very end at over half a mile and two hundred feet deep. The survey gave an excellent record of the pot and some idea of the difficulties to be met with on the way to the sump. Randy Coe as Leader could look back on a most successful meet. No doubt the other members of the party, which included Hugh Holgate, Richard Holgate, D & N Brindle, M Daniel, C Hodgson, R Hodgson, C Holt, D Juson and N Platts, would have agreed!
Many members of the Craven will recognise the name Eli Simpson, if only as a shadowy figure from the early days of the Club; few of us can claim to have known him well. He was a member for all too brief a period in the 1930s until he departed to start not only the BSA but to produce a superb potholing magazine" Caves & Caving". There can be no doubt about the debt owed to him by potholers in general when he died in 1962 even if his views could rouse as much resentment as enthusiasm
We lost a very different character in the death of HW Rhodes: it always seemed to be as HW and never Herbert that a lot of us knew him. He was a member of the club for twenty seven years which is something of an achievement for a man who joined at the age of fifty three! His contributions were many and the club's collection of photographs owes much to him both in starting the fund to compile it and by his own contributions. Even a letter or postcard from HW was something to treasure; always beautifully written in copper plate handwriting. We were often a little amused, but not unkindly, at his inability to join us on Sunday Meets: his duties as a local preacher tended to demand his attention!
Swarthgill Hole may not be everyone's ideal pothole but with a depth of eighty feet and a length of over 500yds. it was a valuable find. The first dig dated back to the Austin's and D Judson's efforts in 1959 and ended in what was presumed to be a sump. More progress was made higher up, but D Judson returned to the "sump" and found a small airspace, probably due to "drier" conditions. The very unpromising passage beyond led to a comparatively large chamber 30' long and 10'Ä15' wide rising to a dizzy height of 25ft. The new pothole included a canal and a fifty foot aven due to Tom Austin's efforts and Norman Haighton added a very wet extension Ä the "Upstream Passage" which he probably had reason to regret when he and David Judson carried out the survey of what can be a treacherously wet hole in bad weather.
Gaping Gill was back to being a regular event. 1962 had proved that it could still be held although it ran parallel with an Irish Meet and fears that bad weather one year might prejudice the next, proved unfounded: you do not become a potholer unless you are a supreme optimist with a bad memory! The weather just has to be better next year, but the 1963 meet led by Pete Leakey was probably as wet as ever and the camp dogged by low cloud. Numbers in camp would seem very small by toÄday's standards.
Rigging the tackle for Pillar Pot
Geoff Workman did not have any weather problems during his one hundred and five day stay isolated down Stump Cross. When he returned to daylight we wondered what damage he might have done to himself and whether he would regret undertaking such a venture. We need not have worried as Geoff is still an active member of the Craven finding new wonders under Greenhow.
The Craven were represented by D Judson and M Walker on the continuing saga of exploration in Northern Spain; this time with a joint Oxford University/Derbyshire team. A return to Picos de Europa was an essential follow up to the work of previous years. They were well prepared with 1500' of ladders and 2500' of rope: not over optimistic in an area where a 200ft pot is regarded as a disappointment! What promised to be the highlight of the expedition, which they had named Alphonse's Hole, proved disappointing at a mere five hundred feet! Only understandable in the context of an expectation of another 1000'. Pozo los Texos proved to be a 600' hole marred by rotting carcases. About 300yds away and 400' higher up a small opening promised to make up for the disappointment, but this fine 460' hole ended in a completely flat scree floor.
If the name Arnold Brown is mentioned some older members may say "he used to be the guide at Ingleborough Cave", even fewer would know that he was a member of the CPC. You would not have found him down any of the holes on the meets card unless it happened to be his much loved show cave but here he was in his element. A call on him at his cottage, if the cave was closed, would more often than not be followed by him opening the cave to even the smallest of parties. Later he had the chance to rent the cave at thirty shillings (1.50p) a week! His death at the end of 1962 could quite rightly be called the end of an era.
Mere Gill seems to figure in Club's history either as a source of frustration or the occasional success when the "mere" has proved low enough to permit access. There was a hint that this could prove to be a thing of the past with the discovery of Little Mere Gill by Tom Jones, Tom Pettit and Edgar Smith. Fred and Tom Austin forced the small tight crawl and only retreated when it was obvious that more work was needed. It was left for Randy Coe to try his luck on yet another aborted attempt on Mere Gill and force the hole down to a small rift where the sound of crashing water could be heard. The actual connection was made by ULSA three years later. It is only recommended to very slim contortionists!
The Craven in 1963 could boast a world wide spread of members with Alex Bottomley in the Antarctic, Jeff Cowling in Tanganyika, Steve Craven away for three months in the USA, and John Hobson in New Zealand.
We were back in Ireland again under the leadership of Neil Platts in 1963 and if nothing new was found it was not for want of trying. A great time was obviously enjoyed by the whole party.
Was this the momentous year when the announcement was made at the AGM in Skipton that "no more rope ladders will be made": future meets would be on alloys. Several of those present might have felt like saying it but it was left to Edgar Smith to announce that "if that was the end of rope ladders it was the end of potholing for him"! The demise of the rope ladder was a little premature as they were still being used selectively in 1966. In fact the 33ft Courlene ladders had proved useful on the first two pitches of Mere Gill in 1966 and a useful standby down Bar Pot on Gaping Gill Meets as a much more acceptable climb for trapped customers than any alloy ladder. In fact Edgar led the way down Bar Pot with me and three novices sharing one lamp to avoid the queue years later!
Steady work on Greenhow since 1949 had added both to Stump Cross Cavern and to Mongo Gill Hole. It was reasonable to expect a connection between the two holes: the question was when? David Judson and Pete Jack managed to extend a dig pioneered by Alex Bottomley and Jim Nurse by blasting out more rocks in January of 1964 and broke through into the legendary caverns known to the miners of a century or more earlier. The cave was to yield such evocative artifacts as a ladder left leaning against a wall (its rungs turned to dust at a touch) and a handsome wooden wheel barrow preserved by being regularly submerged in the stream passage. The survey showed an almost certain connection with Shockle Shaft dug out by the NC&MRS to a depth of 62ft in 1961. A dig from below and a more prudent inspection from above proved that a another ten feet or so would have done it! Such is the luck of the draw; you win some and lose some. This fine discovery was in fact linked briefly with Stump Cross which enabled the surveys to be joined in one length; the two caves making an impressive sight spread out on a table top.
David Judson, Graham Wright and Peter Jack represented the Craven on an official party visiting Czechoslovakia in 1964. They had the opportunity to visit some of the superb caves and venture into the High Tatra mountains as well as getting to know the Czech cavers for whom a reciprocal visit was planned.
The 1964 Gaping Gill Meet was very much the mixture as before but underground a great deal of effort was put into Mud Pot, Avalanche Pot and Queensbury Pot; only the latter showed any promise and this was via a narrow crack overhung by threatening boulders.
Inspite of the long crawl in Penyghent Pot it was considered worth while using four of the courlene and wood ladders on the big pitch. There was now an abundance of alloy ladders for the rest of the pitches.
The CPC venture into Corsica under the leadership of Randy Coe was never intended to be much more than a short reconnaissance. Lessons were learnt on how hot it can be and the importance of transport and local knowledge.
Monty Grainger was leader of the 1965 Gaping Gill Meet and by all standards it was probably the wettest yet. Even the Main Chamber was seen in flood conditions and it was something of an achievement that nearly two hundred descents were made over the meet. The Brooks Brothers' ten feet long and four inch high connection with Car Pot from the East Passage prompted another visit. The first pitch was laddered with a single 33ft Courlene/Wood and the rest on alloy ladders but the connection remained elusive.
Number 2 Foredale Cottages had been home to the Club for only four years but it was needed for a quarry worker and we had to seek pastures new. These were found in Snaizeholme in the shape of Crook Farm. It seemed an outlandish sort of place but in fact no more than 200yds. from a tarmac road. It was taken on a one year tenancy which it was hoped to extend but it lacked the security of owning our club cottage: never the less it served well for the next two years.
David Judson carried the flag for the CPC on the British Expedition to Edelweisserhuttenschacht in Austria. (no apologies if the spelling is wrong). He was one of a twelve man party which hoped to extend the known 555' depth by at least another 400'. The pot in fact finished at the bottom of the unclimbed pitch at some 600ft! By way of a consolation prize they were able to descend another shaft offering new prospects on the side of the Fieberhorn. This ended in a rather similar way with a huge boulder choke at some 700'. This Fieberhohle sounded a first rate pot with eight pitches after the first 120ft rubble slope. No return was planned to dig in the boulders!
It was a pity that more club members did not seize the opportunity of a stress free trip to South Wales on a Pennine Bus; after all those of us that had been there never ceased to extol the virtues of Ogof Ffynnon Ddu and Agen Allwedd. However seventeen members and guests came by bus to be joined by the Leader D Judson, L & S Cook, R Thorley and D Barker who had to make their way separately. The highlights of the meet were Ogof Ffynnon Ddu and Pant Mawr. It demonstrated how much could be packed into a weekend.
The Craven was well represented in the British Speleological Expedition to the Cantabrian Mountains by Jeff Cowling and Mike Walker. This was a change of plan from the intended return to Los Picos de Europa but it held out real prospects of new discovery. Rumours of a Berger like pothole called Valtorquero with a 1000ft potential depth and a length of 3miles proved to be quite a handy hole 200ft deep and not much over a mile long! Jeff discovered Fly Pot and Mike was able to contribute Ghyrrt Cavern. Both fine holes by our standards at 200ft deep and 400ft but ending suddenly at those depths. The team had their main success in a hole called Jon Cabou where it was pushed to a new depth of 800ft. There was a certain disappointment that they had not found another Berger but even with these few snippets it does not sound too bad by most standards!
Mike Scratcher enjoyed the unusual experience of snow and glaciers on the equator by climbing the 17,000ft Mount Kenya. Although neither he nor his three companions reached the very top they all reached high points only 700ft short of the summit.
Tot Lord was one of our revered older members and when he died in 1965 we wondered how old he was. Some put his age in the seventies as he had served in the First World War. It was only when we heard that he had been in such a hurry to join up in 1914 that he was in the trenches at the tender age of fifteen, we realised that he was probably no older than his midÄsixties. Many were the tales told of Tot (never Thomas) and his archaeological digs and his museum and one felt that he had led a full and satisfying life.
No mention has been made of an on-going saga of digs and exploration on Fountains Fell above Darnbrook. It will come as no surprise that the name Brindle appears but as Dennis said a great many other club members were involved in the ten years between 1955 and 1965. Cherry Tree Hole and Darnbrook Pot were not easily won but both very worthwhile pots. There is a story of Brian Varley's first sight of a hole resembling Bar Pot on a moonlight walk and how the tantalising roar of water could be heard below. The rest of the party followed him there and agreed that it was worth a dig. They planned to return the following day and find a way of getting down to the stream. By daylight the hole had vanished and it begins to sound like an Irish Story: it was dark when it appeared again! If you have not guessed; this was to be Cherry Tree Hole and it is possible, but not easy to find it in daylight!
It seems likely that 1966 was the last year of the rope ladders on Club Meets. Len Cook had requested a set for the President's Meet at New Goyden in November 1965 to the amusement of some members (they probably enjoyed the experience otherwise denied them) and some courlene ladders may have been used on one or two other meets. A mixture of ladders is not a good idea and it was time to standardise on the alloy ladders although a set of courlene and wood was kept for use in Bar Pot over the Gaping Gill Meets as long as they remained serviceable. If you have not climbed on wood you have missed something; perhaps it was like climbing a flight of stairs and they were safer against rock, but to be honest that goes with recollections of staggering along the ledges in Lost Johns with one in each hand or trying to make a compact bundle out of sodden frozen ladders takes a bit of the nostalgia away.
Postscript: The 1946-1966 history of the Craven Pothole Club has been compiled using a good but not infallible memory, odd diary notes and the Club Journals. Inevitably a great deal will have been omitted and stories that should have been told left untold. Names and recollections may have been misplaced, so any corrections will be welcome for inclusion possibly in a future copy of the Record.
A few more words on "I" inscriptions around the Dales
My notes in the last Record (No 53, page 50) about the "I" character in the Dales and Peak District mention that it can mean "I", "J", or the number "1". Most examples given show its use as either of the two letters, though none illustrates it being used to mean the number 1. Whilst walking round the old part of Stainforth village recently I noticed two door lintels on houses built over 300 years ago. One is dated "1697"(i.e with the "1" written normally) and the other is dated "I684". Only 13 years elapsed between the construction of these two buildings yet the two inscriptions (which are carved in different styles - presumably by different people) have used different characters to mean the same thing. However in Mongo Gill Hole the "I" character was still being used 122 years later. As Martin Davies states (in the above reference) "it can take a long time before changes become an accepted part of common usage."
In case anyone is interested I have sent all the notes and photographs in connection with the Peak Cavern (and other) inscriptions to the BCRA library. There will also be another short article about them in "TSG 18" (the journal of Castleton's Technical Speleological Group) later this year or early next year.
A long day at Gaping Gill
It was the Craven Pothole Club's first post-war Gaping Gill Meet in 1947. I was one of the new intake of young members immediately after the war. We counted ourselves lucky to be doing our potholing with the pre-war pioneers who had returned to resume regular attendance on Club Meets. Indeed my sponsors into the Club were some of the Club's earliest members: Charlie Whiteoak, Frank Sunderland and Hilton Akroyd all of whom were friends of my father although he was not himself a potholer. The regulars on club meets in addition to these three were: Stanley Baldwin, Alf Birkett, Jim Hill, Edgar Horner, James Spencer, Eric Light, Albert Mitchell, Jimmie Nield, HW Rhodes, Edgar Smith, Bill Spencer, Rhodes Thompson, Philip Tyas (Pekoe), Arnold and Sydney Waterfall - plus us newcomers: Bob Crunden, Brian Hartley, Tom Austin, Bill Farrow, VJ Wood, Dennis Brindle, WJ Anderson, Bob Hyde, Tom Jones, Pete Schindler and myself. These were the regular potholers of the day but a number of Associate Members of pre-war days also supported the Club Bus and enjoyed their days on the fells, including John Knowles, George Hurst and Tom Hodgson whose special interest was geology. Most of these put in an appearance at the camp and some twenty camped.
Alf and I had attended the South Wales Meet at Easter and had invited one of the South Wales Club to make up a trio who camped together upstream at Gaping Gill. Of course none of us gave a moment's though as to what future years would bring and that 50 years on CPC Gaping Gill Camps would resemble a "village" of tents in the hills covering both banks of Fell Beck and stretching upstream for three hundred yards. In 1947 we were a small gathering but one thing was the same in those days and that was the wonderful comradeship of Club members of all ages. I don't recall any ladies being at that camp except perhaps one or two day visitors, but the years ahead saw some members including myself bringing their wives to stay in camp and go down the pot.
There was an atmosphere of excitement and anticipation as we established camp with Jim Hill as Meet Leader housed in his huge square bell tent which was where he was based and stayed throughout the camp, always in sight of the pot. The pre-war members enjoyed the nostalgia and were keen to revisit the then known passages as well as to show us new members what there was to see. So we were all happy together.
In those days the Club did not advertise the meet to the public, so we were on our own with plenty of time every day to explore and that is what we did.
The first night in camp Arnold Waterfall took the youngsters including me for a whistle-stop trip along the passages assisted by Alf Birkett and Bill Spencer. In very short time we scampered along the old East Passage as far as Mud Hall, then into the South Passage through Sand Cavern and Mud Pot to the foot of the waterfall from Stream Pot, then back to T Junction and along South East Passage as far as the foot of the big pitch from the Flood Entrance Pot (which some of us were destined to use later that summer when we went down to investigate what turned out to be the rotting remains of a human corpse). I have to admit that I was feeling tired as we scampered back crab fashion to T Junction and the Main Chamber. But Arnold would not let up and we followed him up to the roof in North Passage where he encouraged us to dig (but we had no time for that in 1947). Finally before allowing us out of the pot we were taken up West Slope and down into West Chamber where Arnold showed us where we could get up into Pool Traverse and thence to Pool Chamber. Back into the Main Chamber where Arnold gave us young members a 6 inch by 9 inch photograph of the survey of Gaping Gill as it was at that time. We were told that we were now "guides" but if we lost our way to use the photograph and look for arrows on the walls all of which pointed the route to the Main Chamber. I was exhausted, Arnold was not! We had had a quick look at some of most of the passages and we now had a week to explore them at our leisure.
It should be noted that we had no beer tent and no beer in camp, so on more than one night we did the six mile return walk for our drink in Clapham. Also the daily milk supply had to be collected from Clapdale Farm and carried in a special harness on our backs. Alf and I made this a happy chore for we were always given a handsome breakfast at the farm. One day will always stick in my memory and I call it
"Our Longest Day"
We were up early and soon preparing for another trip down the pot, Alf and I taking our friend from Wales with us. Our breakfast that morning was a hurried affair seated at the stone table which we had build on the first day of the meet. We were down the pot for about four and a half hours and came out feeling pleasantly tired. However, after a good evening meal we felt revived and I jokingly said "What are we going to do for the rest of the day?" Alf said "We could climb Ingleborough!" So we did! If our Welsh friend could have known what was in store for him I doubt if he would have joined us. On the summit of Ingleborough he asked "Are we heading back to camp now?" whereupon I said "The day is yet young and I know a place in Ingleton that would serve us a good meal before we walk back to Clapham thence up to Gaping Gill". So down to Ingleton we went. As we neared Ingleton we worked out a schedule. First of all we would check the bus times on the time table near where the bus started. Then we would go for a drink and visit Rock Cottage at the top of the hill out of Ingleton, on the Ribblehead road. There I was well known to Mrs Walker who ran a bed and breakfast service and rough and ready overnight accommodation on three tier bunks. I could rely on a late evening meal. Checking the bus time table we found that the bus was mythical. It ran only on Tuesdays and Saturdays. It was Wednesday. Now you need to know the type of person Alf was. He spoke slowly, never became ruffled and could make his pot-holing stories last a long time. He was quietly philosophical.
Alf said "We'll have that drink first and then go to this place of Hugh's for a meal before walking back to camp via Clapham". Our Welsh friend stood the drinks and in his change was a ten shilling note which he stuffed into his pocket. Then to Rock Cottage where we helped Mrs Walker to make the meal under her instruction. After we had washed up we turned out into the night and Alf said "Well we have all night in front of us so which pot shall we do now?" Our Welsh friend thought that he was joking but he wasn't. Storr's Cave was suggested as it was close by but of course we had no lamps with us. Our only means of making light was Alf's box of matches. Obviously we could not go far that way. I suggested that we used any paper in our pockets such as a paper bag that had contained sandwiches or anything else that we could twist into spills and light them. So three intrepid and foolhardy pot-holers entered the cave. We couldn't go far of course and soon headed out again into a starlit night. We all lay on the ground and stared at the stars. I said "What a wonderful warm night it is". Then our Welsh friend let out a mournful "Oh no! That piece of paper that I burned in the cave was the ten shilling note that I got in my change at the pub." Alf and I were highly amused. Our friend was not!
At last we set off along the back road to Clapham in no particular hurry as Alf pointed out that we had all night. There were no problems to Clapham and up to Clapdale Farm. Then we became aware that it had clouded over and we wouldn't have the advantage of a star lit night when crossing the open moors beyond the Plantation above Clapdale. After leaving the sheep fold by the stile I took the lead quite confident that I could walk straight to Gaping Gill. After a while our friend from Wales began to feel ill at ease and was sure that I was off the route (Although he had never done it before in the dark). He asked Alf for his opinion and we made the mistake of stopping to discuss the situation. Alf finally said "I think that we should let Hugh continue to lead the way". Then of course it occurred to me that when we stopped I had turned to those behind me. I broke the news that I did not know which way I had been pointing before we stopped. We were lost! It was 2am.
What followed was a four hours snail pace movement with no silhouette of Ingleborough or Simon Fell to guide us. Whenever we found ourselves dropping steeply Alf would light one of his ever diminishing supply of matches to check if we were about to fall down a pot hole. Obviously we were walking in circles but I concluded afterwards that we had been walking in ever increasing circles for miraculously we eventually heard the noise of running water and headed for it. Then a dark object appeared out of the gloom in our path. It was the drum from which the telephone cable had been unwound and lowered down the pot. We had found our way back to Gaping Gill in the darkness and mist. It was 6am and beginning to clear.
As we crawled into our tent I said "Let that be a lesson to you". Alf's typical reply was "Well there's one consolation, we don't need to go to bed as it is nearly breakfast time - so what are we going to do to-day?" But we did get into our sleeping bags and slept until mid-morning when someone came to see what was wrong. Our friend thought that we were mad. It was foolish but is was fun!
One could say that it is all part of the training by experience for would-be campers at Gaping Gill. Many are the members of the Club who have spent the night on the open fells near Ingleborough trying to find their way back to camp. No-one in camp ever sends a search party out for a Club member. They always assume that every CPC member is capable of finding his way back to camp - eventually. It is all part of life's rich pageant!
Congratulations to Harry Pearman of the William Pengelly Cave Studies Trust on the award of the Geological Society RH Worth Prize in recognition of all his hard work.
Letters to the Editor
If iron oxide reacts with calcium carbonate during the theoretical brief survival of that application in a British cave environment, particularly in the presence of acidic waters, then might there not be some "chemical trace" left of paintings on suitable surfaces. Why do we have no incidents of calcited over paintings? (As in the "Fox's Lair" showcave at Perigord's Grotte du Cluzeau de Villars)
As I've made a pretty detailed study of cave art of the old stone age I've often pondered the question "Why nothing in Britain?" and approached a similar conclusion to the press cutting below. I had a wacky scheme one time to try infra-red photography with "Flash", ie heat a section of cave wall in a habitation zone and photograph it with infra-red film, to see if any chemical changes brought about by iron oxide application might be revealed by "hot light". Anyone fancy trying this out?
Drawing a blank
Maev Kennedy hears a possible solution to the riddle of why Britain has no cave paintings.
At Cheddar Gorge this winter the British climate has been doing its miserable best to solve an archaeological conundrum. On a typical dismal day last week, a handful of tourists shuddered in the chill mist. Inside the caves, the walls were running with condensation, washing away month's of Larry Barham's work. He was delighted. Dr Barham is an archaeologist at Bristol University, particularly interested in the puzzle of why there are no Stone Age cave paintings in Britain. Perhaps because he is a shivering American abroad, he wondered if the answer could be as simple as the rotten weather.
The most famous ancient paintings are the magnificent oxen in the caves of Lascaux in France, over 15,000 years old, but examples are found in a swath across Europe as far north as Normandy. The Continent at that date still ha da land bridge to Britain: hunter gatherers crossed it, yet no paintings or incised decoration have ever been found in any British cave.
"We have to accept that cave paintings were not art as we know it, but served some function no longer required of painting." Barham says. "One possibility is that the paintings were markers for the customs and territory of people living in some stress, at risk of competition for scarce resources. So it could just be that here, at the very margin of Ice Age Europe, the population was so thin that there was no competition, and no need for cave paintings."
The other possibility was that the weather washed them away. Last summer he made red, yellow, grey and black pigments out of iron oxides, minerals and charcoal - identical to colours found in Continental paintings - and painted test spots on the walls of caves at Cheddar Gorge and Wookey Hole in Somerset. The spots are precisely calibrated and any change in colour, shape or size can be measured.
There were certainly people living in these caves over 12,000 years ago, and they were skilled enough to make fine stone and bone tools, some with incised decoration. Cheddar Man was found in the 19th century, and excavation in the 1980s uncovered a group of adult and child skeletons under the entrance tramped over by thousands of tourists every year. All the bodies had been neatly butchered - the first solid evidence in Britain of cannibalism.
Since he painted the spots Barham has returned every fortnight to monitor his pigments. After four months, he was ready to admit his theory had failed. There was no change.
But just before Christmas the picture altered dramatically. A flash flood after torrential rain filled one of the caves to a depth of six feet. A night of hard frost soon followed. The black and grey paint is now flaking and crumbling. On several walls, where the stone became saturated, even above flood level colour has leached out of the spots and crept up the wall. In some cases this has produced a ghostly second image higher on the wall.
By the end of the year he expects the grey and black pigments will have disappeared without trace, and that the red and yellow will be starting to crumble. He now hopes to raise funds to extend the experiment to other British caves, and to compare them with Normandy caves where paintings do survive.
So, did the endless British drizzle wash away a national gallery? "Two months ago I was reasonably sure there never had been any paintings. Now....well, we'll have to see."
Reproduced from The Guardian, Wednesday 10 February, 1999
We would like to submit a proposal to the special projects fund, in support of an expedition to Cornwall later this year to observe the behavior of dark heavy under the conditions of a total solar eclipse. We believe it will provide important data to test a recently proposed wave theory for dark heavy  (we note an excellent precedent for our optimism in the highly successful solar eclipse expedition of 1919 to test general relativity ).
You are probably aware that during the solar eclipse of 1927, the path of totality fortuitously lay across the southern caverniferous region of Craven. We have heard that there are anecdotes from the time reporting the seepage of what can only be dark heavy from local caves and potholes at the onset of totality. No scientific observations of the phenomena were ever recorded though, since in fact the existence of dark heavy has only recently been accepted . We believe that similar effects will be observable in Cornwall later this year, when dark heavy in the numerous old mine workings will seep out during totality. Detailed observations of its behavior, particularly on being suddenly re-exposed to sunlight after only a few minutes, will provide a severe test of the new theory.
We have identified the Driftwood Spars in Trevaunance Cove in the district of St Agnes as an ideal centre for observations due to the numerous shafts, adits, levels, winzes and rises in the surrounding cliffs . We will of course have to spend several evenings in the Driftwood Spars after the eclipse analyzing our data. We hope that any support from the special projects fund will therefore include a suitably generous beverage allowance.
Yours in great anticipation,
Jo + Patrick Warren
 E Reddy, CPC Record 53 (1999) 53.
 AS Eddington, Observatory 42 (1919) 389.
 H Beck, CPC Record 49 (1998) 26; M Goodwin, CPC Record 51 (1998) 21.
 See eg ch IV sec 7 in HG Dines, The Metalliferous Mining Region of South-West England Vol I, (HMSO, London, 1956).
Knowing the intense speculation there has been in the last few CPC Records about "dark heavy" or as the more conservative researchers keep insisting on calling it "dark" matter, members may be interested in details of a rival, and considerably more expensive project than that proposed above. The dark matter experiment down Boulby Mine in North Yorkshire has just received 5.2million to allow it to continue for a further four years. Although the experiment made a breakthrough last year, a rival experiment in Italy also detected a signal and the two groups are now racing to become the first with a definite result.
(Details from the Higher 26/2/99 - of course with the University of Du Racelle having strong links with Italy, the Record is keeping CPC members in the forefront of all the research in this area - Ed)
As we go to press reports are coming in of a new discovery by the Airedale diggers, many of whom are also members of the CPC. Congratulations to them on the success of their efforts and maybe we will have fuller details for the next Record. Of course maybe by then some of our digs might have gone!!
Northern Cave Diving News
It's still raining ... which has been great for the Malham Cove Rising digging project, where we've now pushed the terminal choke for over 13m. A typical dive here involves spending a couple of hours at 14m depth at the end, so nitrox gas is being breathed instead of air. However, with Easter only a few days away, this project has been placed on the back burner until next winter's Malham "season".
Most of the sites where equipment is stockpiled (mentioned in the last Record) have still seen no activity, due to our wonderful weather as usual. However, Rupert Skorupka managed to make a start on his Penyghent Pot project one weekend in February. He successfully relined the first 100m of the Downstream Sump and should break new ground on the next dive if all goes well. He would probably appreciate any offers of help with the gear in this pothole, once the weather finally dries up.
Elsewhere, Phil Murphy and Phil Howson have extended Pool Bank Cave at Witherslack a bit more, though no details are available at the time of writing. Phil Murphy is also currently working on some sediment studies in certain northern sumps and is likely to be giving a lecture about this work at the BCRA Conference in September.
Finally, the Keld Head survey project has seen progress recently when I got the chance of a dive in the downstream Sump of the Kingsdale Master Cave. The through dive from Keld Head was completed and was found to be 1,842m long via the underwater route taken by the survey. A new passage was spotted in the process but without a reel it could only be explored for 30m (the limit of the survey tape carried). Using a medium sized Aquazepp scooter it was found that the through trip can be done inside 60 minutes, though only if the vis is good enough to avoid crashes!
Lake District Hut
Your Committee has agreed a limited reciprocal rights agreement with the Lancashire Caving and Climbing Club who maintain a hut at Torver near Coniston in the south of the Lakes. Because our own Cottage is being extensively used by our own members the agreement specifies that no more than six members of either club may take advantage of the reciprocal rights at any one time and all bookings must be made in advance. The normal charge for guests at the Torver hut is 4-50 but under this agreement CPC members will be able to stay at the same rate as LC&CC members which is 1-50.
Anyone wishing to use the LC&CC hut should contact Mrs Lyn Dyson before their visit. Her address is 79 Whittle Street, Walkden, M28 5NX. Tel: 0161-7996261.
The agreement is for one year in the first instance. Please inform the Secretary if you take advantage of this agreement so that your Committee can monitor whether or not it is proving useful.
What are you doing?
Some members have already volunteered to lead 1 or even 3 meets. The intrepid ones are:
Alan Davey August The Berger
Bob Jenkins February North Lakes
December Gt Douk
Tom Thompson North Wales in April, May or June
Coniston mines and walking
Mike Wilson Mendip
We need leaders for easy meets for novices.
We need leaders for harder trips on both SRT and ladder.
We need leaders for walking and camping meets.
And we need a leader or leaders for Gaping Gill.
Please volunteer a venue as soon as possible to Barbara J Pickersgill, especially those of you who wish to lead a cave which needs a permit.
You may phone me between 6.00pm and 9.00pm Monday to Thursday and almost always catch me; but I do listen to the answer phone messages!
Or you may write.
Or E-mail to email@example.com
Or see me at the cottage.
Thanks to the volunteers so far. I hope some of you who have not lead meets yet have a go and find out how much fun it is!
Barbara J Pickersgill
Neville's view of the Bradford
"Two thirds of the Bradford don't know what the other half is doing!!!"
Access to the Countryside
The Government has just announced plans for legislation to allow access for walkers to 4 million acres of mountain, moor, heath, down and registered common land in England and Wales. Under proposals it is expected that 90% of access arrangements will be made by local access forums made up of a cross section of interest groups, but the Countryside agency, to be launched next month, will be able to arbitrate in disputes and force landowners to open land.
The new measures do not apply to developed land or to agricultural land other than that used for extensive grazing, and access rights are confined to people on foot. The package will be subject to mapping by the Countryside Agency and the Countryside Council for Wales, which will determine where the statutory right will apply, taking the decisions out of the hands of landowners.
NCA had submitted detailed comments on the consultation document issued last year, as had some other cavers and caving clubs (including CPC - Ed), notably Red Rose CPC. These submissions are posted on the NCA website. As yet it is not clear how access for cavers will be affected but the presumption that there is now a right to negotiate access to certain areas should work in our favour. However, it is worth pointing out that many caves are on land which would not be affected by this legislation, so access will still need to be arranged by patient negotiation and goodwill between cavers and landowners or tenants. On such land the current laws of trespass will still apply.
Current Trespass Laws
Many cavers are not aware of the law with regard to trespass. The current legal situation is set out in a letter, written by Jeremy Burrows, MA, DipECL, LLM, Solicitor, which appeared in "The Great Outdoors" magazine for February 1999, pg88 by whose kind permission the following extract is produced.
"The landowner, tenant or licensee, may assert the right to exclude you from the land, and does so with the full backing of the law ...... If you are required to leave the land, then you must do so. If you do not then, after allowing you a reasonable time in which to leave, he is entitled to use reasonable force to eject you from the land ...... If confronted, by all means explain your intentions and politely request his permission to carry on, promising to cause no damage as you go ...... but you have no rights here whatsoever ...... if he refuses, you must agree to leave the land and return by the route by which you came. The alternative is being forcibly ejected from the land - and the more you resist, the more force he will be entitled to use against you, with the full backing of the law.
Where the land is crossed by a highway - that is to say a public footpath, public bridleway or a public carriageway - the only rights you have are limited to the right to 'pass and repass'. If you seek to use the highway for some other purpose, which might include erecting a tent, stopping to have a picnic or even to take a photograph, then you become a trespasser and you may be required to move on and, if you do not do so, the landowner may take forcible measures to compel you.
Trespass itself is not a criminal offence in England and Wales (although the newly invented crime of "aggravated trespass" needs to be carefully watched). However a trespasser is liable to pay compensation for any damage which he causes to the land on which he trespasses."
Reprinted with permission from Speleoscene No 37 Jan/Mar '99
One of our eagle-eyed subscribers, Jack Myers of "Underground Adventure" fame spotted a mistake in the history of the CPC published in the last Record. Albert Mitchell's "Under Ingleborough" was published in 1949 and not 1946. Whilst checking on this Don Mellor also discovered that whereas he, and everyone else, had believed that there was one edition and two reprints of Albert's other book "North Ribblesdale", in fact there are differences between all three and they should really be considered as three editions. The close study that Don undertook to discover this also made him realise that much of the caving described in the book was new exploration by the CPC which has not been described elsewhere. So keep watching in the Record for a future article.
"One of the best-known workers was Jack Dawson who, in 1939, became a sub-ganger with responsibility from a point midway between Blea Moor tunnel to the southern end of Ribblehead Viaduct. He and the family moved into No 1 Blea Moor Cottages. His daughter, Nancy, remembers the earth-closet which in due course was supplanted by a chemical toilet, though when it arrived, her father would have nothing to do with it and continued to go to a nearby pothole."
Potholing at one's own convenience eh!
Spotted by David North in an article entitled "Yorkshire's Loneliest Signal Box" in the Winter 1998 "Yorkshire Journal"
Jottings from the Committee
December: Reported that Gordon Hanley had accepted the offer of Honorary Membership. Reported that UWFRA and Kendal Mountain Rescue Team were both considering the question of Limited Liability and we may be able to take advantage of any advice they receive. Agreed to offer limited reciprocal rights to Lancashire aving & Climbing Club (full details elsewhere in this Record). Noted that the Cottage Carpark had been resurfaced. During a discussion on the computerised library system it was noted that the BCRA Librarian's Group was drawing up a specification but we seemed to be ahead of their thinking.
January: Noted that the Secretary was having difficulty in locating a suitable venue for the 1999 Annual Dinner. In the continuing debate on limited liability it was suggested that the majority of the club's activities were probably already actively covered by existing insurance policies, with the exception of Gaping Gill. It was agreed that the possibility of further insurance to cover the Gaping Gill Meet should be investigated. A new reel of lifeline had been purchased and ladder test pieces were being prepared using a new resin. Agreed that we would print 400 copies of the index of Club Publications, the cost to be met out of the Special projects Fund.
February: No progress had been made on the matter of limited liability or additional insurance for Gaping Gill. Reported that the 1999 Annual Dinner would be held at the Black Horse in Skipton and that the Chief Guest would be Ian Dewhirst. Reported that considerable progress had been made with the library computer system. Agreed that the Club would purchase sufficient SRT rope to rig the Gouffre Berger for the meet in August 2000. In the light of the difficulties with obtaining a suitable venue for the Annual Dinner the possibility of changing the constitution to allow slightly more flexibility in the choice of dates was discussed. A small working group was set up to explore the questions of limited liability and additional insurance.
The drawings of "Mole" in this Record are by SF Collins and are reproduced with permission from the VNU Publication, PCWeek.