Grampian Speleological Group Newsletter
Number 105, June 2000


Taigh nam Famh Open Day

The GSG Committee have decided to host an 'Open Day' at the Elphin chalet to provide the general public - particularly Assynt residents - with information on our underground activities. The date chosen is Saturday 15th July, running generally from 10am to 5pm (with possible overspill at the latter time if a barbecue is running outside).

This venture is an excellent opportunity to build on public relations - which took a small dent recently when a dog from the chalet killed some local sheep - and sell ourselves at a time when caving as an activity nationally is in slight decline and still labours under a misunderstanding of what we are about. The day follows a talk being given by Goon to the Assynt Field Club in Lochinver on Thursday 13th July which is a good chance to promote the event. A small piece has been sent to Ullapool News to advertise it as well.

The format will consist of static displays, probably a slide and/or video show, commentary tours of the chalet and the provision of refreshments throughout the day. Obviously, it will be necessary to spruce the place up beforehand and assistance to provide a thorough spring clean on Friday 14th would be greatly appreciated. Any time consuming repairs or re-painting can be achieved between now and then. Members wishing to stay at the hut should note that the bunkrooms, particularly the front one, will be used to house display boards, so sleeping bags etc. will need to be stowed away tidily. Assistance will be required, and that means BEING THERE, not sloping off to go caving until the event is over!! Your support will be welcome.


Do you care enough about caving and the GSG to help raise and improve our profile in Assynt? We need help to tidy the place before the event, talk to visitors during the day, and return the place to normal (or tidier than normal) afterwards. You may have your own idea for an exhibit, demonstration, or other contribution. Contact Goon now and let him know that he's not alone.

Mining Museum Faces Closure

The Scottish Mining Museum at Newtongrange near Edinburgh is threatened with closure due to lack of funds. A 5 million pound redevelopment was completed there only last year. This won a five-star visitor attraction quality assurance from the Scottish Tourist Board in April and has led to visitor numbers doubling, but it needs another 200,000 now.

It is a victim of the present funding system which relies on the local authority. A national centre such as this would be better funded from central government. The outlook is bleak and it will close at the end of June unless rescued. Some staff (mostly ex-miners) have been paid off and the administration block housing the library, photographic archive, and mining artefacts has already been put up for sale.

This is the Scottish centre for the near extinct coal industry and deserves better treatment. I encourage you all to visit it before it closes. Roger Galloway and I went on 11th June, and spent a leisurely and very informative three and a half hours. That included chatting to the ex-miners acting as guides. It is open from 10am to 5pm seven days a week. Admission is 4.00 and you are recommended to arrive by 2pm if you want to see everything. It has a tea room and book store.

For more details:- tel:- 0131 663 7519,




Smile Please!

Speed cameras have recently been installed on the A9 north of Perth. So far four of the 'offset grey box on a square column' type of camera have appeared since the New Year between Perth and Blair Atholl. A couple are obvious but two are hidden behind large road signs. When heading south a particularly sneaky one is hidden at the start of the 60 limit at the end of the Pitlochry dual carriageway.

There is also a camera on the level crossing at Garve. This is to catch vehicles crossing after the stop signal has been given. No mention has been made of it also being a speed camera - but who knows?

Meghalaya 2000 - Caving in the Abode of the Clouds

Between 7th February and 10th March this year a number of GSG members took part in the Meghalaya 2000 expedition to North-East India, building on the success of previous years. Cave exploration has been taking place in Meghalaya since around 1992, with over 150 kilometres of cave explored and mapped. Much of this success is due to the excellent partnership developed between British and German cavers and the local cavers of the Meghalayan Adventurers Association led by Brian Kharpran-Daly. Having people who speak the local languages and organise the logistics of the expedition locally saves a huge amount of time for visiting cavers and the warm, friendly nature of the Meghalayans adds greatly to the whole scene.

Roger and I broke journey in Calcutta, staying in the Fairlawn Hotel - in some ways a remnant of our colonial past. Run by Ted and Violet Smith since the forties it is an interesting blend of cultures and tends to be a magnet for European and American visitors to Calcutta. At the front is a beer garden where a strangely eclectic mix of people relax surrounded by bougainvilleas and fairy lights. The following day we journeyed on, slightly hungover, first by plane to Guwahati in Assam and from there to Shillong a taxi ride of 120km.

Megahalaya is known as the Scotland of the East and exhibits a number of parallels - the rainfall, the pine trees, extensive coal mines, the liberal use of tartan, even some local biscuits which are like a clone of shortbread. It is a strange landscape, as interspersed between the pine trees are banana trees, huge bamboos, paddy fields and palms. Around 250 varieties of orchid grow there. One palm of economic significance is the betel palm, Areca catechu. The fruit when chewed with betel leaves and powdered lime acts as a mild stimulant, as some people will attest.

Of particular interest to me were the abundance of megaliths, said to commemorate the dead, which are at least equal in stature to Stonehenge. The age appears to be somewhat younger than our own, estimated at no more than a few hundred years, but I'm unclear whether scientific dating methods have been applied. Nartiang in the Jaintia Hills is particularly impressive with several hundred monoliths and dolmens concentrated in a small wooded area. It also boasts an extremely fine tearoom.

This expedition was mostly based around the Sutnga area in the western part of the Jaintia hills with much work being done along the Shnongrim ridge and its base. Some time was also spent in the Cherrapunji area and (even more briefly) the Ranakor area.

The expedition explored and mapped over 20 kilometres of new caves in four weeks. The longest one found this trip, Krem Shrieh (Monkey Cave) 8.5km long, set a new record for the deepest shaft in India with its entrance shaft of 97 metres, and was characterised by a fine winding stream passage up to 30 meters high. Also of interest was a 'mummified' raccoon. Other major finds were Krem Mawshun, around 3.5km of clean washed 'Yorkshire' type cave; Krem Wah Ryngo around 3.5km of often stooping mixed passages and Krem Sngad, in the upper Litang valley, around 2.5km of stream passage and very complex joint controlled side passages, often of large dimension.

The cave life was extremely interesting and varied. Within the entrance zone there would be a vast array of different spiders, up to 6" span, the occasional frog and occasional evidence of (although not actual) snakes. Further in, true troglodytic fauna included cave fish, crayfish, crabs, millipedes, very large crickets, and other assorted insects.

All in all a huge amount of caving, sunshine and fun. A more detailed account will follow in the next copy of the G.S.G Bulletin.

Peter Dowswell

Meghalaya 2000 - Expedition members

UK - Simon Brooks, Pete Dowswell, Roger Galloway, Tony Jarratt, Kate Janossy, Fraser Simpson (all GSG), Tom Chapman, Amanda Edgeworth, Kirsten McCullough

Meghalayan Adventurers - Brian Kharpran Daly, Betty Chhakchhuak, Neil Sootink, George Nongkhlaw, Lindsay Diengdoh

Canadian Guest - Kevin Garwood

Guides - Paul Bareh, Moon Dakar, Isaiah Sukhliang, Larsing Sulian, Spindro.


The GSG autumn expedition to the Vercors has reached critical mass with 12 GSG members and friends going from September 2nd to the 16th. Julian has booked accommodation a few kilometres west of la Chapelle en Vercors. This is now full but there is more in the vicinity for anyone else wanting to join. Contact Julian for the details.

Julian Walford:- e-mail:- walfords from the East from Kate Janossy (Collated and edited by Pete D.)

Dateline: Sat, 11 Mar 2000 01:44:24 PST Greetings from Kathmandu

As most of you know, I spent February caving in Meghalaya, India. This was brilliant - we surveyed over 20km of (mostly) impressively big, pretty cave and still had time to drink lots of beer and party. The best cave has to be Krem Shrieh - a trouser-browning 97m shaft leading to over 8.6km of amazing cave, including an enormous main passage, a maze of large fossil stuff, a nice splashy streamway and a mummified raccoon. Despite an epic overnight trip on the last day surveying 2.7km, we still didn't finish the cave, leaving several "crawls" (ie can't stand upright) to be done another time.

Kathmandu is brilliant. It's so easy, with many creature comforts - much appreciated after 4 days without sleeping horizontally. You can buy anything here. The thought of lugging stuff across China has helped control myself a bit and I've contented myself with spending vast amounts of dosh on travelling. I've decided to fly to Lukhla to make the most of my limited time and trek to Gokyo, which has great views of Everest. Time is tight though and you have to be really careful with altitude on this trip, so I might not make it all the way. I've managed to arrange a trip to Lhasa, which allows me to travel on through Tibet and China independently

Dateline: Fri, 24 Mar 2000 04:30:08 PST Greetings from Kathmandu (again)

I've just got back from a 10 day trek in the Everest region of Nepal, suffering hardships like prolonged tea-shop festers, Yak jams and frozen toothpaste. The most dangerous part was probably the flight to Lukla. We were taken to a aged motorised hang glider sort of thing. Like all vehicles in Nepal, there was lots of revving of the engines, shaking and general falling apart noises before we moved. No tooting of the horn though, which had me worried. Unlikely as it seemed, the thing took off and survived some interesting turbulence. Just as we were beginning to enjoy the stunning views, we dropped down a bit and flew straight at a mountain with a very short and slopey runway stuck onto it. We only overshot the end by a few feet so that was OK.

The next few days we found out what trekking in Nepal is all about - tea shops. The average day's walk takes about 2-3 hours since you can't ascend too fast, so there's plenty of time to acclimatise (i.e. fester). We usually spent another few hours pottering up a ridge or something but still had lots of tea drinking time. Unfortunately the beer gets rather expensive, so I had to drink Chang, which is fermented Yak's milk or something and tastes like scrumpy mixed with yoghurt. It's actually quite nice if you're desperate. As we got up towards Gokyo, the weather improved but it was still bloody freezing. We walked up Gokyo peak (5360m) on the afternoon we arrived in Gokyo and were very lucky to get clear views from the top. The mountains are stunning with great views of Everest.

The night was clear with an amazingly bright moon over Gokyo Lake, but at 4750m was far too cold to hang around outside. The next day we tried to walk up the "Knobbly View" at 5535m, but almost got blown off the mountain so gave up half way ('cos we're gay lightweight faggots of course). I didn't mind because we slogged up and down moraines for 7 hours and the views were brilliant.

Coming down was much quicker because you can walk for 7 or 8 hours a day without worrying about altitude. Managed a detour to Tengboche Monastery which has an amazing location on a ridge looking up valley towards Everest. The track down to Lukla was packed with gearist trekkers, horribly unprepared tourists and some amazingly crumbly people pottering up as well as the usual trains of Yaks and Sherpas. A Yak shedding it's load caused utter chaos. I'm glad we went early in the season.

Dateline: Wed, 29 Mar 2000 01:01:05 PST Seven days in Tibet

I'm now in Lhasa after a rather interesting journey. After a short drive to the Nepalese border, we hitched a lift on a truck then slogged uphill with our excessive luggage to the Chinese border post. There we discovered that the Lhasa road was blocked with snow so we had to wait in the one (expensive) tourist hotel until our jeep and permit arrived, while our passports were held hostage.

Fortunately jeeps got through the next morning. The plan had been to drive straight to Tingri - ascending from 2300m to 4300m in one day, which is way dodgy for those who hadn't acclimatised. However, it took over 5 hours to drive only 30km of uneven, icy dirt track full of stuck trucks to Nyalam (3700m), so we decided to stay there.

The following day we drove for 13 hours to make up time. The scenery was incredible. The Tibetan Plateau is a 4-5000m high vast barren moonscape surrounded by mountains. Nothing grows apart from stubbly brown scrub grazed by Yaks and sheep. People live in the middle of nowhere, travelling huge distances on horseback to find food for their animals. Long tractor-like things also zoom across the plateau packed with Tibetans, looking exactly like something out of Mad Max. We drove over several passes up to 5200m high with amazing views (including Everest again), then descended to Shigatse - the second largest town in Tibet. Entering Lhasa itself was a bit disappointing at first. It's been spoilt by loads of Chinese square buildings and neon signs and the Potala is dwarfed by radio masts. Today I discovered the Tibetan area, which is great - a huge buzzing market full of friendly Tibetans walking around with prayer wheels. We wandered into a couple of temples where we were welcomed with smiles - presumably because there are too few tourists to have pissed the locals off yet. I'm off to see the Potala Palace, then it's 48 hours on a bus to Xining, which is rumoured to be one of the grimmest journeys known to man.

Date: Sun, 09 Apr 2000 01:33:23 PDT Travels in China

I'm now in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia, and about to leave for Ulaan Baator, Mongolia. After wandering around the Potala Palace admiring room after room filled with gold buddhas (an impressive 13 storeys full), we found our bus to Xining. Chinese sleeper buses are a cunning idea - you are packed like sardines 2 people to a bed a bit narrower and definitely shorter than a single bed, and barely high enough to sit up. But being able to lie down makes 48 hours a lot more comfortable. I travelled with 3 people I met on the way to Lhasa, and an infinite supply of food, which made life more pleasant. We left the cheap rum, as it was up to 15 hours between squat-by-the-road-in-full-view-of-everyone stops.

We arrived in Xining remarkably well rested. I discovered to my amazement that copying Chinese characters out of the phrase book is actually intelligible, and proceeded to buy a train ticket with no hassle whatsoever! The others met a random English-speaking guy (Fan) on the street who helped them buy a bus ticket. The next day we went to Fan's Mum's house for lunch, and were offered the chance to visit his family in a small village in the hills. Unfortunately, I had to catch my train to Yinchuan. Finding the train was remarkably easy, and it was luxurious - clean and comfortable with a constant supply of hot water for your green tea and instant noodles.

From Yinchuan, I spent a day visiting tombs and a small pass village with a Canadian couple. It was great to potter about in the hills after spending so much time sat on my bum or wandering around huge western-style department stores. The night I left, I met my mates from Xining again. They'd had a great time with Fan's family being taken from house to house in a beautiful village and force fed.

I'm off to Mongolia tonight after a very brief stay in Hohhot. Buying international train tickets at short notice is a wee bit trickier. There were no 2nd class tickets left, so I decided rather than spend a lot of time, hassle and a large commission getting one on the black market, I'd go first class. It's about $12 more - what extravagance! Still 50 quid for a 2 day train journey isn't bad. My huge supply of novelty munchies was pretty cheap too - I'm sure you'd pay wads for instant jellyfish, bamboo shoots, dried fish, seaweed and unidentifiable ?pickles in Britain. Now all I need is beer!

I might not get the chance to send Email from Mongolia to whinge about having to be a sensible medic again or falling off horses in the desert.

Have a great summer, (to be continued)


GSG Annual Dinner 2000

Jake and Beccy are well on the way to finalising arrangements for this year's GSG Annual Dinner. It will be held on Saturday 28th October in the Rock and Fountain (Clydach George, South Wales). The Pwll Du Centre is being booked for accommodation on Friday and Saturday nights. This will be a few quid per night and is only a short crawl from the Lamb and Fox. A bus may be arranged to ferry us on Saturday evening and Jake is busy organising leaders for the various caves nearby. The menu and a booking form will appear in the next Newsletter towards the end of August. Numbers will be limited so send your name and a fiver now to Ivan to reserve a place.

GPS Accuracy Improved

Many cavers use GPS (Global Positioning System) to locate and relocate cave entrances - very useful when walking Scottish moors with few distinguishing features. It is a USA military system and civilian use was deliberately degraded by something called selective availability (SA). SA added a deliberate slowly varying unpredictable error into the satellite transmissions. This meant a civilian GPS receiver gave positions that could be in error by 100 m or more. On midnight 1st May SA was switched off - permanently we hope - and all civilian receivers instantly became about ten times more accurate.

GPS readings have become far more stable. Two readings taken three weeks apart at Uamh an Poll Sneachda (Schiehallion) differed by less than 6 meters. This was during a SCRO practice rescue and allowed someone completely unfamiliar with the area to home in confidently to an insignificant hole in the heather. A programme of measuring all entrances to 1 meter resolution should be instituted. All members with GPS sets are encouraged to help and send the results by post or email to me. I'll collate them and distribute to the SCRO and GSG.

Though SA has gone, you may not always get the full accuracy claimed for GPS. The actual error is still dependent on how many satellites are in view and their configuration. It is affected by weather conditions and the local topology. Don't expect to get a good reading if you are at the bottom of a shakehole or in a narrow valley with the only satellites in view clustered tightly together.


A First Impression of Tropical Mendip Caving and a Glimpse at Clare

Two weeks holiday, one week in Ireland with 'the girlfriend' and one week?...hmm...decisions... CAVING!- revolutionary! Phone calls to various people quickly ensued. A call to J-rat proved to be of bugger all use (a caving excursion to somewhere in Asia I believe). However Jake and Becky came up trumps, especially when Jake effused about the 'current' Mendip heat wave. That was it set, a caving holiday with grade one changes, a suntan and on the cheap (as a Yorkshire man the last part particularly appealed. I am sure any of you Picts out there can appreciate this).

I took the precaution to pack a 'Jim' (Conway), this is an excellent new piece of kit available to the GSG. I advise anyone who is planning a caving holiday to do the same. They are particularly useful for sharing gas money, driving, gas money and gas money for journeys from Inverness to Somerset via a Yorkshire excursion in extremely comfortable and economical LWB Landrovers full to the gills with camping and caving gear. They also come into their own when buying rounds at the Hunters and when sharing amusing anecdotes. However partly due to age they seem to tire very easily. As a newly joined GSG member, a 'Jim' is easily persuaded to part with lots of cash on new caving gear which they "definitely need" and which you can "definitely borrow" as your equivalent is either knackered, or never got bought as its too expensive in the first place!

Sat. 01:04:2000 On arrival, the Mendip heat wave turned out to only apply to Dinder (Jake and Becky's latest abode). The rest of the area was exempt. Thanks to Jim's mobile phone we established contact to receive directions consisting mainly of gradually spiralling right turns at T-junctions over the space of half an hour. It wasn't until we had nearly landed that we realised we'd started about 2 miles from the house! We'd been had....thanks Becky a well master-minded wind-up, but well made up for with hospitality. The Hunters was the venue for the night. All I remember is a cocktail of Guinness and Scrumpy, a good craic with good Mendip company. However I keep getting flash backs of people wandering around the Belfry with sauce pans on their heads. I latter found out that Tony J. having failed to cycle home ended up in the wood shed? or was that the bike??!

Sun 02:04:2000 Jake toured Jim and myself down GB. This is a great 'little' cave. The proportions of the main streamway and Great Chamber are excellent. What a belter for Jim's 2nd cave! The pretties in the Great Chamber and bat passage are stunning. I enjoyed sliding down from there until I felt too much 'space' under my feet. I peered down at Jake peering up saying something about what I wasn't standing on. He then scuttled to one side as I scuttled up. I think Jim particularly 'enjoyed' the wet crawly squeezy bit and Jake a reminiscence trip. We retired to the Victoria before an evening at the Hunters.

Mon 03:04;2000 A J-rat dig was the order of the day .... the mine shaft to nowhere- sorry Tony. It does look promising. Then we retired to the Hunters. It began to snow intermittently in early afternoon. With the snow pilling up and the electricity gone for a couple of days people were gradually driven to the pub, but 'unfortunately' were unable to drive back! Apart from those who after many years of owning Landrovers in the south were at last able to justify them! Meanwhile back at the Belfry Captain Oats opened the door and strolled casually out not to return, leaving me and Jim enough food to ride out the storm.

Tue 04:04:2000 This consisted of a visit to the Hunters followed by a trip to see Cheddar gorge and a non-starter (due to bat hibernation) to potter around the smaller caves. Swildons in the evening with Tangent (John Williams GSG) nice and wet! Then back to the Hunters.

Wed 05:04:2000 Goatchurch and a bit of Sidcot after wasting time looking for Pierre's pot in the morning. Then back to the Hunters to meet up with Tangent to look at White Pit in the afternoon. Nice white stuff but I didn't much like the 'Devils' head at the top of the middle pitch! Not too impressed with an elbow pad and crab going down the dig at the very bottom. Thanks for retrieving them John.

We got back to the belfry in time for a coffee before Chris Castle arrived to tour us down St. Cuthbert's Swallet. A stunning trip. Thank you Chris. I couldn't begin to describe the areas we visited other than to say that we went as far as an area which I believe Goon is familiar with at Gour hall! (at least you didn't have to go to Raigmore that time Alan, but I look forward to seeing you there in the future when I'm working). Wednesday night is digging night so the Hunters was busy with hairy arsed 'southern caver's if there is such a thing.... another good night.

Thur 06:04:2000 I can't believe we had to get up at 06.15 to take Jim to Bristol, but I guess he got the raw deal with the 15.5 hrs on the bus (didn't think that one through did you Jim!). Hunters for dinner time then a failed trip to Eastwater (too wet) so on to Swildon's again with Jake, Tangent and Paul (Brock). Then the highlight of the week - Withyhill courtesy of Tav. I just wish I'd not run out of film. Anyone got any pics I could copy esp. Green lake chamber?

Fri 07:04:2000 The last day came out beautiful, not quite tropical, but too nice to miss so I went for a run around old mine workings etc. (sorry Goon at least it wasn't walking). This was more like the weather I should have had.

I then ventured forth from Pembroke to Ireland with Maeve, embarking on a trip along the south coast, up the west and along to Belfast. I did persuade her to visit Michelstown 'show cave' which was well worth it, but another time it would be good to get loose with wellies, lid and lamp. This however seems to be difficult for permission due to past damage done by cavers. We also managed to stop by a little village called Doolin. Only just, due to distinct lack of signs and any references on maps! Thanks to Julian and Carol for referring us to O'Conners pub and suggesting the Doolin river cave. I hoyed a ladder down Fisher Pot then started down St. Catherine's One. After negotiating a few motionless sheep and some debris I bounded along aiming for Fisher Pot 'on me tod'. About a quarter of the way in I noticed a distinct lack of personal tackle bag containing camera etc. so back I wandered cursing the crab it should have been on. After much scanning I located it in the entrance crawl! Due to an afternoon start and needing to get to the next camp site that night I decided to 'give it a miss' and have a look at Fisher from the other end. My plan changed again when I noticed my nice little water proof map case thing complete with a vague sketch of the cave had also decided to part company with me. Back in I went cursing, to locate it where I'd turned around! "Bugger it I might as well do it now." I estimated that I wasn't too far from Fisher Pot when my main lamp decided to get tired, I went on a little and decided that it was possible that I was off target as my vague notes didn't fit the now narrowed stream way. "Should have photo copied them....". With past fun and games with lighting I decided to 'leg it' the way I knew, so I turned around. I had a little bit of fun forcing myself into a piece of streamway which turned out to be smaller than me. This would have been fine except I'd just passed an area where I'd climbed down into on the way in but couldn't find the climb out, "Oh ***." It revealed itself eventually on the way back down my wet little tube. After driving back to Doolin I had a wet little poke around Fisher then appeared bedraggled to greet an edgy Maeve in O'Conners, to the disapproving looks from the punters who appeared unaware of the true reason to visit county Clare.

Thanks again to the Mendip lot, especially Jake, Becky, Tony J., Tangent, Chris, Tav., Ivan etc.

Yorkshire Dave

Forthcoming Meets and Events

See the events page for full details.

Weekends have been selected, now tell me what caves to book. Contact us at the Cambridge (0131 225 4266) on a Tuesday evening to learn of the many local and Scottish trips not included in the list. (Tel home:- 01383 860653)

Fraser Simpson

Letter to the Editor:

In response to the Editorial in the latest Bulletin, I received several favourable comments, one from as far away as the U.S.A., on the subject. Sometimes when we join a club such as GSG our viewpoint is understandably egocentric, particularly if we have never known another club and cannot make an objective judgement. It will encourage all members, I'm sure, to read the following letter from Rob Taviner who is in that position. I am grateful to him for his comments and especially for his emphasising the importance of repeating field work - something I have not stressed correctly in the piece.


Dear Goon,

As usual I enjoyed your latest editorial, and totally agree with the spirit of its content. I agree that everything should be directed back to the centre - only in this way can members benefit from others' work and individuals receive due credit for their achievements. I for one have always been a 'club man' - in fact I couldn't care less about NCA, BCRA etc - though I don't suppose you'll agree with that. There are however, a couple of points I'd like to make.

Firstly, it sometimes seems from down here that the club is being a little undersold. Far from being a club seeking to achieve maturity, I reckon the GSG is the best such organisation in Britain - by a country mile. During a period when caving nationally is in decline (I've heard all sorts of reasons for this - in truth it's because they've all gone soft), the club has increased its membership with quality cavers, built a new hut without incurring exorbitant costs and found a lot of new cave. This must be practically unique. The club is well run, has little in the way of access headaches, has one of the best journals, is full of pushing cavers and has practically no politics. This latter is definitely unique. It is THE model caving club. Be proud of what you have created. I am.

Incidentally, never doubt the loyalty and commitment of club members down south. It may seem a little strange to single-club cavers that others can belong and be loyal to more than one club, but believe me the two can co-exist quite happily. In short, everything done north of the border (and increasingly south), is done in the name of the GSG. I know that some members were irritated by articles appearing in southern journals [without specifically mentioning the club] - but the only aim was to spread the word and encourage other cavers to visit Britain's most under-rated karst area. The irritation can work both ways - I was asked this year by a new member how many more of the BEC were coming up this year! I've only been a GSG member for ten years!! We can't get more involved in the club than we do because of where we live. Given that, I don't reckon you can get much more committed than driving 650 miles each way to dig some of the squalid holes we've done. Or carried tons of scaffolding up mountains or stomped off into the middle of nowhere to find caves. We've even helped with the hut building. I like to think we've made something of an impression.

The second point is more important. Duplicating field work is NEVER a waste of time. I realise this part of your editorial was aimed at individuals who don't publish their findings - and I think you're right to have a go at them over this. However, the club does have something of a problem in that everyone seems to assume that just because somewhere is remote - Jim Salvona or Trevor Faulkner for example must have already been there. Even if they have - and believe me Scotland is too big a country for them to have covered every inch - it doesn't matter. As I point out in my article [on St. George's Cave] (and I put this bit in because I want every club member to get the message), in peat country you can walk a few metres from open holes and not see them. We didn't find St. George's until the second visit even though it lay only 40m from stuff we were looking at last year!

All the best, Tav.

St Alactite's Day

Milche (Martin Mills) writes to remind us of St Alactite's day. It is the 5th Tuesday in February, can only happen on a leap year and February 1st must be a Tuesday. It happened this year after a gap of 28 years from the previous occasion. Milche writes:- "It was celebrated last time by the Mendip Defloral Dance - see No 19 in the Manuscript Collection of Mendip Cavers' Songs (1984) - Alfie Collins". I have not heard of any special events this time.

For those wishing to plan an appropriate celebration next time around, St Alactite's days will occur in 2028, 2056, 2084, 2124, 2152, 2180, 2220, 2248,2276, 2316, 2344, 2372, 2400 and so on...



Get to Know Britain's Caves

It has sometimes been my experience, when talking to members of English clubs, that their perspective on caving is specifically regional - even in these days of web sites and fast travel across Britain. In other words, they know all about the caves on their doorstep, but are uninformed on what other parts of the country have to offer.

This need not be the case. Libraries exist to inform, and GSG members who may not know too much about UK caving areas outside Scotland can glean all they want from the extensive collection of journals (and books) held in Edinburgh. Most journal material is, of course, descriptive of new explorations, giving background information and comments on potential. Although some of this is now historical, stretching back over 100 years, there is every point in reading it because it provides flavour and style to your knowledge.

For the Yorkshire Dales, may I recommend the Yorkshire Ramblers Club Journal, 1899 - 1992. This is not absolutely a complete set but the articles are of high readability standard, and many classic pots are described. I would also urge perusal of the Craven Pothole Club journals and latterly, Records, which are bursting with exploration narratives. Coming slightly more up to date, the now classic series of Reviews issued by Univ. Leeds Speleo. Assoc. (1966-1986) provide descriptions of some of the tough new wave of discoveries - Marble Sink, Black Shiver, Mossdale, Langcliffe, Nick Pot, Penyghent Pot, Echo Pot and Far Country, G.G. to highlight but a few.

The 'Northern Dales' reaching from the Dales to the Scottish border, are extensively covered in the Moldywarp Speleo. Group Journals.

Derbyshire is best represented by the Derbyshire Caving Association Newsletter, which has run through several formats and provides a distillation of the work of member clubs. Orpheus C.C. newsletters and journals, Sheffield Univ.S.S. Journals and Peak District Mines Historical Society all offer good material on the area.

North Wales is mostly represented by articles and publications from visiting clubs.

South Wales, with its huge cave networks, has been extensively published by English clubs, in particular, Chelsea Speleo. Soc., Croydon C.C., and Westminster S.G. The premier home club, South Wales C.C., has issued, in addition to Newsletters (equivalent to our Bulletins), special publications celebrating anniversaries or specific caves. Cwmbran Caving Club and British Nylon Spinners C.C. also provide good original exploration accounts. Another excellent digest is the annual journal of the Cambrian Caving Council, 'Red Dragon'.

Mendip is particularly well covered. Journal runs from Shepton Mallet C.C., Wessex Cave Club and the B.E.C. date back to the early 1950's. Between them, as well as Univ. of Bristol and several other local clubs, information is plentiful.

Devon is covered by Devon Spelaeological Soc. newsletters, Plymouth Caving Group and Exeter Univ. S.S. newsletters.

Ireland has been explored by many English clubs, principally Univ. Bristol S.S., Shepton Mallet C.C. and Craven Pothole Club, but now has many indigenous societies. The central journal 'Irish Speleology' covers most of the work carried out.

This has only been a skim across the surface of a wealth of historical and geographical information locked up in the club library. Use it well, and your knowledge of British caving can be expanded beyond measure.

Alan L. Jeffreys, Librarian.

Elphin Caving Centre

The new gas range is looking well used - or is it abused? Would all members using it please expend a spot of elbow grease and keep it clean. For those searching for the igniter - a hint. It's a black button to the left of the control knobs all set into the black panel. We must find some way of highlighting it. Larger diameter gas pipes have now been installed and we have our Landlord's Certificate. The loss of the saucepan cupboard has been mitigated by a new saucepan rack above the work surface. The water heater is reportedly lacking power and I suspect the boost switch electronics. It'll be attended to later in June on my next visit.

During the Mendip Migration the Alt was busy with other Saturday bookings, so this year's curry extravaganza was held in the hut. Catering by master chef Peter Dowswell featured a Meghalayan speciality named by the expedition members 'Pork Bellies in Green Snot.' It tasted very good and probably a lot better than the other Indian delicacy, 'Sledgehammer Chicken,' that wasn't reproduced.

Confirmed Taigh nam Famh Bookings

(removed from web edition)

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)


Not much to report. John Glover and CJ started painting the outside of the hut. Almost two gallons of masonry paint brought the north gable end back to a brilliant white. Several more gallons await volunteers to complete the job. Peter will be organising a hut maintenance weekend for the autumn.

Roger Galloway has obtained more material to make mattress covers for the front bunk room. What we now need is a volunteer with a sewing machine. It isn't heavy material so any domestic machine should cope quite easily. Can anyone help???


Membership News

Welcome to new members:-

New Members

Angela Bishop, Jim Conway

New Addresses

Addresses removed from web edition.

Walter Fairnie, Graham (Jake) Johnson, Nigel Robertson & Anne-Louise Hodgson .

Assynt News

In May the Altnacealgach had some special accommodation for Antipodean visitors thanks to the recent high winds. The bad luck doesn't end there. Eric's minibus rolled over and was written off when a local inebriate forced it off the road. Fortunately the driver and passengers were damaged far less than the bus. Eric isn't replacing it so no more 'taxi' rides back to the hut.

Caption Competition

The winner of the caption competition in the last issue was Dave Hodgson with:- Roger is saying - "Dave. When I was talking about having a good head I meant on the next pint ... It's your round!"

He can now select and collect his prize (GSG tie or ANUSC T-shirt) next time he is passing.

Internet Caving

Paul Brooks has published a picture of Dave Hodgson (Yorkshire Dave) 'splashing around' in GG Main Chamber - if you can see him for all the mist and water flying around!

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.


There are still some GSG T-shirts and sweat shirts available 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 the remaining choices are. (Tel:- 0131 661 1123)


1) Book early for the Annual Dinner - sent Ivan 5.00 per person to reserve your places.

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

3) Tell Fraser of the caves you want to see on the meets list.

4) Send address list changes and corrections to Ivan

5) Send contributions to Goon for the next GSG Bulletin!

GSG publications etc. (price to non-members in brackets)

Caves of Skye - 6.00 (8.50) QRA Assynt and
Caving Songs of Mendip - 3.00 (4.00) Coigach Field Guide - 10.00 (12.00)
The Southern Highlands - 1.20 (1.50) Caves of Assynt out of print
Caves of Schichallion - 3.00*(4.00) Appin Cave Guide - 1.50* (2.00)
Buddy reading (Caving in Couplets) - 2.00 (2.50)
GSG tie - 5.00 ANUSC T-shirt - 10.00 black XLs only left out of print - photocopies available * only a few copies left - reserved for members

Index to GSG Bulletins (1963-1988) and GSG Library Catalogue 1997 FREE when you send 3.5" disks to Alan with a stamped addressed envelope (one disk per item)

Postage extra - order from Alan or Ivan
Make cheques payable to "G.S.G."

Credits:- Photos - Ivan Young, Dave Hodgson & Paint Shop Pro

Grampian Speleological Group home page