Grampian Speleological Group Newsletter
Number 104, February 2000


GSG Annual General Meeting, 2000

The first AGM of the new millennium was held in Winchburgh on Saturday 5th February. Fourteen members attended, including 2 day trippers from Inverness! It was a good attendance, but with the steady increase in GSG membership it was only just quorate. The target is 10% of the membership or 13.5 if we take the final figure for 1999. In addition to participating in the vital decision-making processes of the club, members were also able to buy books and T-shirts. Below are the highlights of the afternoon.

Reports from Office Bearers indicate that the club is doing well on several fronts. The income from the hut means that we have few financial worries, and are able to make major purchases in equipment for the hut such as a cooker. However, there was some concern that the direct costs of membership were increasing (ie Bulletins, postage, newsletters and insurance). The Treasurer proposed that subscription be increased by 2.00 per member, but those present felt that it should go up by even more! So it was agreed to set the subs at: 15.00 for full members, 20.00 for joint members, 7.50 for unwaged, and 5 for Junior. In addition, Life Members would be asked whether they would like to make a contribution to the costs of being members.

The hut continues to be well-used, and suggestions for improvements to facilities were requested. Rosemary proposed that we consider hiring a cleaner for the hut, as currently it fell to a few members to maintain it in a pristine condition. The majority of members agreed, so Pete is going to look into it.

Election of Office Bearers. As there were no other volunteers to take over, the existing committee was re-elected en masse:-

Anyone wishing to see the full minutes of the meeting, please contact me and I will send you them.


NOTE:- Copies of the annual report from Alan and the Treasurer's report and annual accounts from Ivan are enclosed. More detailed information is available on request.

Annual Subscriptions 2000

Your annual GSG subscription fell due on 1st January. This was increased at the AGM to 15 for full and 20 for joint members, but remains at 5 for junior. The reduction for students, the unemployed and old age pensioners also stays unchanged at 50%.

This is the first increase in subscriptions since 1993, and the new level should suffice for quite a while unless inflation escalates again. Even at the new level the GSG subscriptions must be among the lowest in the country. If you can't remember whether you have paid look at the label on the envelope this Newsletter arrived in. You will see "SUB DUE" on it if I think you have still to pay. Either tell me if I am wrong or make your cheques payable to "GSG" and sent them to:-

Ivan Young 45 Maitland Road, Kirkliston, West Lothian, EH29 9AP.

Enquiries on subscriptions - 0131 333 3084 (evenings)

Payment by Standing Order

Members who already pay by standing order should complete the enclosed form to change it to the new amount for 2001 onwards. If you don't yet pay by standing order - why not? Please ease the Hon Treasurer's annual New Yearly burden by completing the form. Once you have completed and signed the form take it to your bank and they will do the rest.




ANUSC - On the last day of the 20th century(1) Ivan and Roger Galloway took a brand new Silva compass/clino with beta lights and a tape measure into ANUSC. They surveyed from the Drip Chamber dig to the 'entrance' digs. The Silva worked well and the built in light sources made the taking of readings so much easier. The survey showed that the digs were 15 m apart and not likely to join any time soon. The entrance dig was about 3 m away from the surface stream and 2 m lower so there's more chance of connecting to that. It had self-dug itself a bit more and was left to continue the good work. However now we've seen how close it is to the surface stream perhaps we'll stop - unless we want to turn upper ANUSC into a real river cave!

On the first day of the 21st century(1) Dave Hodgson (Yorkshire Dave) took some friends for a wander through ANUSC. Most others were still recovering from the night before.

In January while the everyone else prepared the hut for the new gas range, Peter Dennis went on a solo thrash down Claonaite investigating most of Capital Series en route. In a fit of enthusiasm he also visited ANUSC and Otter Hole. The following weekend, while Ivan continued with hut fettling, Yorkshire Dave braved the wind and hailstorms to visit Alt a Chalda Mor Stream Cave and the Cripples Canyon group.

(1) Pedantically inclined members do not need to reopen discussions of when a new century starts. I have democratically chosen to follow the majority view and that is the end of it!


After the AGM, Malcolm McConville and Martin Hayes visited Glen Duror and Draught Caledonian to inspect the result of the bang reported in the last Newsletter. However not much damage had been done. Also there were Andrew Ogilvie and Tony Lenehan (our newest member). They all thrashed about in the perched sump and managed to enlarge it as the walls were just packed sediment. There was a good draught in the chamber and it invites a concerted attack in drier conditions.

Malcolm and Martin were mightily impressed with the results of Andrew and Tony's labours on the resurgence just upstream of the concrete bridge. Tons of boulders and much quarrying of rock has cut a significant trench, lowered water levels considerably and revealed a passage. In drier weather this had been penetrated for several meters before becoming too aqueous. There follows an emailed report from Andrew:-

Stream Resurgence In Glen Duror

Over a few weekends in the last six weeks or so Tony and I have been digging the resurgence above the concrete bridge mentioned in the descriptions of recent explorations in Draught Caledonian.

On our first day we located the resurgence (eventually) and spent a while ineffectually moving rocks in the stream bed. It was clear there was much work to do, though the depth of the pool was by no means apparent at this time. By our next visit a plan had been hatched. The spring waters which currently flowed left to join the stream should be allowed to flow directly down the hill to allow for the fastest drop in the level of the supposed sumped entrance. This required the removal of a blockage of timbers and river boulders. Things were progressing nicely when we accidentally dislodged two massive boulders into the entrance area.

Visit three saw the recalcitrant rocks removed downstream via a linear winch and the stream bed lowered to a level around 3 feet lower than the original, a low arch of rock now clearly visible at the entrance. Day four saw further attempts to lower the level. These allowed the development of a second resurgence left of the original in fractured bedrock below massive river boulders. At the end of the day we were fortified to don masks and lower ourselves into the unpleasant tight entrance, from where we could see the unmistakable reflection from a sizeable airspace about 18 inches in.

Day five (today) saw us return with even heavier sledge hammer and long chisel bar, with which to annihilate the rock plinth forming the lip at the sump. The plinth proved resilient, not so the flakes in the arched roof which had been inaccessible without our 4 foot chisel bar. Airspace created we shimmied through gingerly (and singly!!). The exit was initially a steep mud pile which had collected the stream into a pool perched above the current resurgence. This was quickly removed and progress made removing flakes and mud from the walls of the stream passage a further few metres to another sumped pool. Tony was able to see that a thin roof tube communicated with this and that the sizeable passage continued level underwater for some distance.

We note that removal of debris from inside the cave seems to have stopped the resurgence from the secondary spring, and that our final digging activity seemed to increase the outflow volume at the entrance ( making T's exit a wee bit sporting!!). We postulate that a considerable passage may exist beyond, and hope to return and remove the difficult plinth at the lip and work on the roof of the terminal sump, to create airspace. Failing this it's over to the divers.

Andrew Ogilvie
16th January 2000


The January trip to Lost John's was a fine affair descending and ascending a record number of pitches as both Centipede and Dome routes were tackled and various combinations of route taken by different groups of members. A total of about 9.5 hours of enjoyment preceded the eventual exit and a somewhat late arrival at the pub.


A few days after the AGM Peter Dowswell, Roger Galloway, Fraser Simpson and others flew from Turnhouse airport to India to make this February's Meghalayan expedition a predominantly GSG affair. They took several items of caving equipment that the GSG are donating to the Meghalayn Adventurers - 65m of Bluewater SRT rope, four rope protectors, four carbide generators, and two club ladders that will be replaced. The GSG also bought some video tapes for Fraser to continue the filming he started in 1999. The preliminary results of this were shown at the annual dinner, and the final tape is now ready. Copies are in the GSG Library and with expedition members.



The dates for this expedition are confirmed as the first fortnight in September 2000. So book your holiday time now and let Julian know of your interest.

Julian Walford:- e-mail: walfords
post: 6 Sweyn Road, Thurso, Caithness, KW14 7NW

Forthcoming Meets and Events

See the GSG events page for details.

This list was quickly thrown together the day before leaving for Meghalaya. I'll be expanding it in March on my return. Let me know which caves you want to do in 2000. Contact us at the Cambridge (0131 225 4266) on a Tuesday evening to learn what is happening. There will be many local and Scottish trips that are not included in the list. (Tel home:- 01383 860653)

Fraser Simpson



I am purely guessing but I would imagine the library contains many millions of words on caves, most of them locked up in journal articles with misleading titles, or books many chapters long.

Thankfully there have always been a select few eager to index information. In 1962 the British Speleological Association published a remarkable work entitled 'Speleological Abstracts'. It attempted to list all original speleological work in the UK in that year and was received with derision in many quarters. However the compilers persevered, gradually extending their coverage to the whole world. In 1969 Ray Mansfield took over the labour in a re-titled 'Current Titles in Speleology and by 1972 every country in the world was listed alphabetically, with formatted sub-divisions on subject matter. This phenomenal labour was, incredibly, printed and published by Tony Oldham by February of each following year, surely one of the best track records in any scientific discipline. By 1993 a parallel work, the Bulletin Bibliographique Speleologique, produced by European cavers had merged with Current Titles and from Vol. 32 onwards became one massive publication. From 1989-1996, these references are also available on CD-rom. Breakdown is by continent, country and category, in that order. Ancillary indexes appear at the rear. The club possesses a complete set from 1962 to 1997 (recent years have been delayed due to a vacancy in the English language compilation), and the books are extremely useful when tracking down information for foreign expeditions.

Indexing is essential to trace elusive facts and there has of late been a trend by club librarians to produce complete lists of their publications and contents. Chris Howes (of 'Descent') and I have undertaken the indexing of (some defunct) series of newsletters and journals; in particular mention should be made of Chris's index to Red Dragon, the annual journal of the Cambrian Caving Association, which is packed with information in sometimes indigestible quantities. These are also available from the library. Since many clubs are now putting their whole publication stock onto the internet, opportunities to trace the most obscure reference are legion.

There is one other form of search worth mentioning. Twenty years ago I compiled a card index with one card for every cave in the UK (taken from the published guides). Each card carried references to all articles and surveys held in the library. Sadly this great scheme has not been kept up to date, due to the huge amount of work involved, but it does carry essential information on the major caves visited by the club and if I ever find the time, revision will be attempted.

Indexing and cataloguing may seem to be something of a specialist entertainment, but there is no denying the usefulness of the end result. I could go on by referring to the large set of cave guides held in the library - not only for the UK dating back to 1947 - but for many of the world's finest karst regions as well. They form in themselves indices of tremendous use.

If you have a query or plans for a visit to foreign parts do consider the above information. It could make your researches much easier and more fruitful.

Note: Coming shortly: An index of the club Edinburgh logbooks 1966 - 1999 with some short annotations as to content.

Alan L. Jeffreys, Librarian.

Review - The Town Below The Ground

Edinburgh's Legendary Underground City

In December I received an email from GSG member Norman Murphy who'd just been left a present by Santa. It was a book titled "The Town Below the Ground" and subtitled "Edinburgh's Legendary Underground City". It is written by Jan-Andrew Henderson, who mentioned that he was working on the book when he led the GSG tour of Underground Edinburgh in April 1997.

It is a reasonable read and contains a wealth of historical detail - for the first two thirds of the book. The rest concentrates on the paranormal occurrences that were so much a feature of the commentary during our Underground Edinburgh tour. While I might consider it a waste of paper others no doubt would disagree. I expect it makes the volume more marketable.

The book is illustrated by a 1647 plan of Edinburgh plus reproductions of 20 old drawings. I say old because there were no credits and all of them must be long out of copyright. For a book on the underground, I was disappointed that all the pictures were of the surface. There were no underground or interior drawings, no plans or cross-sections of the architecture described in the text, and no recent photographs. We're still waiting for the real Underground Edinburgh caving guide.

So go and buy and/or read it, but don't expect it to be a guide. You won't learn how to navigate any subterranean mazes from this book. It's a light read and you, like me, will probably learn something new about Edinburgh and its inhabitants from the 14th century onwards.

Henderson, Jan-Andrew (1999); The Town Below the Ground, ISBN 1-84018-231-8; Mainstream Publishing Company, 7 Albany St., Edinburgh, EH1 3UG; 172 pages, paperback 5.99, Available from Edinburgh booksellers eg Thins, Waterstones et cetera.


Elphin Caving Centre

The latest enhancement to hut facilities is the replacement of one of the 4-ring hobs in the kitchen with a gas range. This has an eight burner hob over twin ovens, a grill and a storage drawer. It has just been connected to the gas pipes by a local CORGI registered fitter. He also did a safety inspection for us and pointed out a couple of deficiencies The main one is that we need to increase the gas pipe diameter to the new range. At 23 kW, it plus the 4-ring hob, plus gas fires overstretch the present 15mm gas pipe. I've asked him to send an estimate for upgrading and until that is done you could experience low gas pressure if you have too many burners on simultaneously.

At the AGM a proposal was accepted that we look at hiring somebody to clean the hut at regular intervals. This would have advantages for regular visitors who begrudge the time spent cleaning up after less conscientious guests. We'll start investigations during our next Assynt visit.

Confirmed Taigh nam Famh Bookings

Date (nights)   Group                                           Size 
April   22->    Mendip Migration 2000 - GSG have exclusive use   20
May      -> 6
        12/13   Ferranti MC - provisional                        12
        19/20   Malcolm McConville                                9
        26/28   Jacobites MC                                     15
Jun     2/3     GSG Spring BBQ                                   12
        22/24   Douglas Wood                                      3
Aug     25/26   Campsie Hillwalking Club                         15

Hut fees are 4.50 per night for non-members and 2.50 for GSG and BEC members. Reduced to 3.00 and 2.00 for children, students, unemployed and OAPs. Camping is at a reduced rate of 2.00 only when the hut is full. Rates for the Knockan hut are 50% of these.

If you are coming to any GSG event please tell the Hut Warden - Peter Dowswell as soon as possible (01592 202627) [Note:- During February contact Ivan as Pete is in India 0131 333 3084]


Pete and Ivan spend one January weekend in the kitchen hacking out one of the 4-ring hobs and the saucepan cupboard below it. The saucepan stock was rationalised and the remainder distributed between the other cupboard and a couple of empty bookshelves. Measurements were taken for a new saucepan rack to be fitted above the work top and the floor was painted. Meanwhile Rosemary Jones helped clean and Bob Jones painted first the walls then the woodwork in the area outside the toilets.

The gas range arrived during the following week and stalled in the porch as it and its packing wouldn't fit through the next doorway. Ivan arrived for a second weekend, took the door off, and with Yorkshire Dave's help soon had the range carried through, unpacked and in its place. A socket was added to the wall and more paint spread over the wall. As already mentioned the next step is to uprate the piping to cope with the vast increase in prospective gas consumption. I'm also going to investigate fitting an extractor fan/hood over the range and hob.


Membership News

Welcome to new member:-

Tony Lenehan - Who made the mistake of visiting the hut at New Year while the Hon Treasurer was around. Tony has featured in these pages several times. He's Andrew Ogilvie's digging partner in Appin and almost made the breakthrough into the Farr Series. I'd tell you more but he hasn't filled in an application form yet!

The latest membership address list is being distributed with this Newsletter. Please check it and let Ivan know of any errors or omissions. I rely on you to keep it up to date.

Assynt News

Shellfish - The latest map of the area closed to scallop collecting shows the north west to be clear, The toxins in the scallops that cause amnesic shellfish poisoning (ASP) have been slower to clear from scallops than expected and there is concern that with summer approaching a resurgence is possible.

New Year - With many other hostelries closed the Alt had to introduce a strict ticket-only regime to prevent overcrowding. The Alt was smothered in millennium decorations including some helium filled balloons that didn't last the night. Apologies to Eric on behalf of the (high pitched) miscreants. With a firework display, bonfire, food, music and dancing a great time was had by all. Roger took the precaution of installing some hut mattresses in his van. Mid-day Saturday saw him and Ivan waking up in the Alt car park as did John and Julie Christie (BEC) in their van and Derek Pettiglio in his estate. Yorkshire Dave and friends chose to walk back to the hut.

A great night and don't read too much into the news that Eric and Christine are about to replace the carpets in the bar!

Caption Competition

Which brings us to the GSG Millennium Caption Competition. There is a prize of an ANUS T-shirt or a club tie (winners choice) for the most side-splitting suggestion of what Roger and/or Yorkshire Dave are saying in the picture to the left, or what Dave's friends hiding behind all that drink are saying, or thinking, or thinking of saying or... I'm sure you get the idea.

Send your suggestions to Ivan by April 1st 2000. The result will be announced in the next Newsletter and the Editor's decision shall be final.

Internet Caving

The Speleoclub Avalon (Belgium) web site was spotted by David Robinson and is a good example of what a caving club web site can be:- Full of details of the club's discoveries and caving exploits, and well illustrated with photographs. If you want to go caving in Belgium this is very good place to start collecting data.

Remember the GSG site maintained by Andrew Brooks is at:-

Email for the GSG can be sent to:- ivan
Email for the Bulletin should be sent to:- goon90

This Newsletter was emailed to all members with a known current address. All you have to do to receive it is to send me an email, and I'll add you to the distribution list.


This is a never to be repeated chance to purchase high quality GSG T-shirts and sweat shirts at a much reduced and below cost price. Once the present stock has been sold that will be it. Buy NOW while you have the chance.

T-shirts - reduced from 10.00 to 8.00 !!!!!

Sweat Shirts - reduced from 26.00 to 16.00 !!!!!

These are of excellent quality with an embroidered club crest (approx 10 x 7 cm) on the left breast. There is a choice of colour - wine, blue, green, red... all in XL size. Contact Goon to hear what choices are available and to buy. (Tel:- 0131 661 1123)


Tell Pete Dowswell (or Ivan) as soon as possible of any other hut bookings. Remember it is first come first served. And don't forget to pay afterwards!

Tell Fraser of any caves you'd like to see on the meets list

Send address list changes and corrections to Ivan

Send contributions to Goon for the next GSG Bulletin!

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