Grampian Speleological Group Newsletter
Number 108, January 2001


Annual Subscription

The annual GSG membership[ subscription fell due on 1st January. Current rates are 15 for full members, 20 for joint and 5 for junior (under 16 years of age). The rates halve for full time students, the unemployed and old age pensioners (ie over 65).

Thanks to those who have already paid, and if you cannot remember look at the label on the envelope this Newsletter arrived in. There will be a "SUB DUE" on it if I think you have still to pay. If I am wrong tell me, if not send your cheque, made payable to "GSG", to:-

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

If you have questions phone me at 0131 333 3084 (home)

or email:- ivan

Payment by Standing Order

Many members already pay by standing order making the job of paying and collecting the annual subscriptions much easier for all of us. If you are not using this method please consider doing so. Just fill in the enclosed form, sign it, take it to your bank and they will do the rest.


Annual General Meeting 2001

This year's AGM will be held in Derek and Liz's house in Winchburgh on Saturday 17th February from 2:30 pm. Because several of the committee and other active members will be in Meghalaya, we foresee a greater challenge than usual for the meeting to be quorate. We need 10% of the membership to attend and all members are urged to make a special effort. We can't move the meeting as the GSG's constitution requires the AGM to be held in February. Now that Meghalayan expeditions have become regular February outings for the GSG, we plan to avoid this problem in future years by changing the constitution. A resolution to do so will be proposed at the AGM.

End of Year Review

The past year has been another excellent one for the club, with consolidation of our current high level of membership (currently standing at 127), participation by club members in various trips abroad and continued activity in the various areas of Scotland.

General Activities:

The year got off to a good start with several club members participating in the Caving in the Abode of the Clouds 2000 Expedition which successfully explored and surveyed over 20 km of cave in Meghalaya. A great time was had by all. Yorkshire trips have possibly been a little thin on the ground this year, although there have been plenty of trips north of the border. There hasn't been a great deal of new passage this year, but consolidation has continued in Rana Hole and a number of trips through to Claonaite Seven and Eight to tie up loose ends. Simon Brooks has pushed Claonaite Sump 8 to (more or less) a conclusion and ANUSC Sump 4 to a conclusion. Northern Lights in Cnoc nan Uamh has been relined thanks to Dan, Lloyd and Fraser, though not without one or two difficulties.

In early September a club trip to the Vercors attracted fourteen members, with sumptuous accommodation, fine weather and caving or walking every day. A return is planned, probably in two years time. The year was rounded off by a trip to the Northern Dales courtesy of Yorkshire Dave (or more precisely his parents in absentia) when Sir Francis Level, Crackpot and Cliff Force were visited.

Taigh nam Famh

Although a relatively quiet year at the hut, we have continued to generate a good income, which helps keep the club in good financial heart. Various improvements have continued, with a new range cooker extending the cooking facilities and a new fridge and new fridge/freezer providing extra space. There have also been improvements to the barbecue area with the construction of two retaining walls and the purchase of a lawn mower has seen a vast improvement to the grassed areas. Building work has also commenced in the area around the two sheds to provide an external wood store and prevent any further collapse of the slope behind the sheds. This may eventually allow a more interesting use to be made of the current wood store.

In the forthcoming year, we have a number of ambitious plans for the hut. These include the construction of a conservatory type extension at the front of the building to provide additional eating/sitting space; a pergola in front of the barbecue to provide an easy means of erecting an awning, and the possible conversion of the wood store to a sauna (potentially a more controversial plan and of lower priority). In order to successfully complete these projects we need the full support of the membership and their assistance. Whilst I realise that these projects are a distraction away from caving they will benefit all. Plans will be discussed at the AGM and I would urge all interested members who would like to help to speak to myself or Ivan. There will also be a routine maintenance programme and a continuation of the painting of the harling.


There has been a bit of a lapse in the production of publications, partly due to other activities taking place. This year however there will be a renewed resolve to produce the revised Caves of Assynt (edition III) this time extended to include the Ach a' Chorrain group, the Durness group and (possibly) the Applecross/Kishorn group, all of which are unlikely to be the subject of a separate publication. Work is also continuing with the second edition of Caves of Appin. Again most of the work has been done but requires editing and collating. Also there is a bit of a lack of decent quality photographs, so if you have any which you think are suitable please bring them to our attention.


The coming year promises to be another excellent one with lots of different things planned. Again a good number of members will be participating in this year's trip to Meghalaya, again lead by Simon Brooks. There will be plenty of activity in Sutherland again - maybe this year will see the breakthrough in Rana...

In early September a return trip is planned to the Dolomites, with Via Ferratas high on the list. It is a superb area with lots of First World War military tunnels to be explored, brilliant scenery and ridiculously cheap alcohol.

I still have plans to cave in Canada, but doubt if they will come to anything this year.

Anyway, best wishes to you all for 2001.

Peter Dowswell

Mining Museum Cash Crisis

The Scottish Mining Museum received an early Xmas present from the Scottish Executive. Environmental Minister Sam Galbraith has found 200,000 a year for the next three years to support it. This is part of a package also providing money for the Scottish Fishing Museum and the Scottish Maritime Museum. Each museum has to look for savings, appoint people with more management experience as trustees, and establish closer professional relationships with the National Museums of Scotland.

(Edinburgh Evening News - 21-Dec-00)

Dangerous Sports 2 - Rambling

In Newsletter 101 we reported on how biking was much more dangerous than caving. The latest GSG member to prove once again that caving is comparatively safe is Jim Salvona. While walking the Fife coastal path on a grade C walk with his rambling club in the autumn he tripped. He fell badly on his right arm fracturing the humerus near the shoulder. Now the bone has knitted he is suffering the tender ministrations of a physiotherapist and not so tender examinations from a doctor. He must be well on the road to recovery as enough power and movement has been regained to allow self-administration of anaesthetic at the Cambridge every Tuesday.

GSG Annual Dinner 2000 - S.Wales

With the dinner weekend being so far south and near many relatives, I arranged leave for Thursday, Friday and Monday. This meant I was able to drive down with the family Wednesday night, deliver them to brother-in-law in Cardiff and then take advantage of Roger's booking at the South Wales Caving Club hut at Penwyllt. After a long drive and a surreal shop for provisions in Tesco, Cardiff at 2 am, I headed up the valley. Feeling shattered and not wanting to disturb folk, I stopped on the back road to Penwyllt at 3.30am and slept in the car. I arrived at the hut at 8am worrying that I would miss the day's caving. I needn't have worried; no-one rose until 9 after partying until 4 in the morning!

Eventually everyone gathered and our guide for the day, Amanda Edgeworth, suggested Pant Mawr, not least because of its interesting pothole entrance. The approach straight from the hut comprised a pleasant one hour walk then SRT down a fine 15 m pot. The nine-strong party descended and followed Roger and Amanda upstream to the waterfall pitch. The sight of Roger firmly pressed into the terminal bedding-plane crawl soon formed a consensus to turn-about and explore the "main" cave, justifiably reputed for its "large" proportions. We were not disappointed. I'm not alone in suggesting this was a wonderful start to the long weekend. The Great Hall after the boulder chokes was very impressive and the formations in the Chapel, Vestry and Organ Loft were spectacular. The day ended with an enjoyable meal at the SWCC then a pleasant couple of hours in the pub.

Friday began with awful weather and an inevitable trip to the Dragon Caving Shop before returning for a caving decision. We were joined by Dan Harries, Fiona Ware and Tom Chapman. The river was in full spate so we agreed to forego the through trip and instead explore the passageways of Ogof Fynnon Dhu 2. From the entrance we made our way through Gnome Passage, Edwards Shortcut, Selenite Tunnel, Cross Rift, Maypole Inlet, Crossroads, Salubrious Passage to the distinctive and impressive Trident and the Judge. From here we returned through Gnome Passage, and took a quick diversion to look at the Big Chamber near the Entrance before exiting. We then descended OFD1 to look at the old show cave and investigate the streamway. We returned for another enjoyable meal at the hut and then drove on to the Pwll Du Centre near Bryn Mawr to join the main event.

That evening there was a major gathering of cavers from all corners of Britain at the Lamb and Fox Inn located on the spoil-strewn hillside adjacent to the centre. Most shocked were Trevor Hughes and partner who had inadvertently chosen the area for a quiet weekend in complete ignorance of the GSG occasion. Entering the Lamb and Fox, they were overcome with shock on realizing that they knew all the faces in this remote Welsh pub! The GSG committee members promptly invited Trevor to be Guest of Honour at the Dinner in the Rock and Fountain Inn the following night.

With so many gathered in the Pwll Du centre, Saturday had the potential to be a busy day for caving. Instead, the weather deteriorated and regular, driving, squally showers washed the landscape. Three parties entered Ogof Draenen during the morning whilst a party including Roger, Tom and Amanda headed for Ogof y Daren Cilau, drawn by the challenges of the arduous entrance crawls and the dubious rewards of the grand passages beyond. I joined a party of enthusiasts down the rain washed path to the ominous looking gate of Ogof Draenen.

We passed steadily through the awkward entrance choke, and the steep, scaffold-lined route to the inlet. Angie Bishop and New Zealand Pete dashed ahead with the large party spreading out somewhat with all the obstacles. Despite this, steady progress was made through the larger passages to Cairn Junction and Tea Junction, then left towards Lamb and Fox Chamber. Unfortunately, Malcolm turned his ankle in this section on the treacherously slippery boulder floor. The awkward conditions underfoot prevented any faster progress, so once positioned above the Lamb and Fox Chamber, it was decided to split the party. One group was keen on doing the round trip and the rest of us accompanied Malcolm out of the cave. Steve, Angie and Pete disappeared along the smaller passageway towards Agent Blorange and the Beyond a Choke streamway back to Tea Junction. Goon, Martin and I returned with Malcolm and, as we were all new to the cave, we were pleased to have a straightforward return. The only point of doubt was rising up the choke towards the entrance but, turning the right-hand option of the flat out crawl revealed the steel entrance door!

With a few hours spare before the minibus was due to shuttle us to the Rock and Fountain Hotel, a sizeable group sampled the local coal mining museum, The Big Pit. This was an enjoyable experience and it was poignant to be guided by an ex-coal miner. Sad that things had been reduced to this, guiding tourists around the old workings, but it is always worthwhile reminding ourselves of the conditions that men and horses worked under.

The dinner went very smoothly. The meal was efficiently served and the food was greatly appreciated. The two parties that had taken the more ambitious trips in Draenen and Daren Cilau returned unscathed and full of tales of their tribulations. Steve Birch was amongst them and was duly presented with the Golden Gnome award for both flying the GSG flag on Skye and for his sterling effort in surveying many of the caves, new or previously poorly described. A deserving choice.

Gnomein' in the Gloamin'

Caves be where you find 'em, as the saying goes.
By good luck, judgement or just following your nose.
There's only one condition set, as we have found,
And that is that all caves are located underground.

By observing this one rule, as our recipient has,
Discoveries came thick and fast - and all that jazz.
Not that it's been easy; don't think that at all.
Every inch was fought for, every yard a haul.

But the finds just keep on coming, though without our aid.
We marvel at a distance at the strides he's made.
Perhaps a Golden Gnome will assist him in his search.
So we send him over the sea to Skye's Steve Birch.


Once the tables were cleared the evening really began with ... karioke hosted by the landlord! My account dries up here because I was one of the few that were "obliged" to take the first minibus back to the Pwll Du centre. Earlier that evening, I had arranged to meet Pete Glanvill and Barry Burn at Agen Allwedd on Sunday morning and a reasonable sleep was necessary.

I rose on Sunday to a scene of devastation and to be confronted by J-Rat who immediately resumed the party antics he probably ended only a couple hours earlier! Plenty of tea was brewed and drunk and many illicit liquid containers were gathered and bagged. Enough key members awoke to disentangle the creative car parking outside and that allowed me to leave, although slightly late. No-one was in the mood for a cave trip this early so I went alone. Running about half an hour late, I was pleased to find Barry and Pete waiting at the Chelsea Hut.

In Agen Allwedd we enjoyed a leisurely exploration of the main dry passage to Cliffs of Dover, Music Hall and then some of the side passages on our return. Pete arranged some photographs of the passage profile and the selenite crystals on the mud floor. This was all a superb distraction from the weather conditions developing outside. We had walked in with fine, bright weather but on exiting mid-afternoon, we found a deluge and streams had risen all along the escarpment. Driving back to the centre to shower and change, there was floodwater running everywhere. Unfortunately, I was unable to find the key that I had earlier arranged to collect from a concealed spot near the door - thanks Jake! Soaked to the skin, I drove to relatives in Cardiff for a cup of tea and on to Llantwit Major to spend the night on a dry carpet, after a hot bath. The drive down the valleys to Newport had been an exciting experience with pools of water, gale force cross-winds and water run-off down the steep roads. Cardiff was devastated with flood water and debris blown around. Fortunately, Monday morning was finer weather and there were just a few flooded back roads to negotiate early in the journey. Heavy rain resumed at Lancaster and then it was just a case of persevering back to Inverurie, content that I had enjoyed a challenging and enjoyable weekend of Welsh caving.

Peter Dennis

Lost and Found

Lost during the dinner weekend at Pyll Du, a TSA oversuit belonging to Yorkshire Dave. If you know where it is call Dave on 01463 790587.

Found during the same weekend someone's newly purchased book on the South Wales caves. Contact Jake and Becky on 01749 676382

Caving News


Rana Hole - Only news from here is that a look down the shaft during December saw a lagoon at the bottom. Perhaps the GSG should buy a submersible pump?

Smoo Survey

The SNH discovered in December that they has some cash left in their coffers and invited the GSG to produce a survey and a report on the geomorphology of Smoo Cave, Durness. We quoted for the work, had it accepted, and started the survey on the 31st December. This was mainly Andy Peggie with a multi-thousand pound surveying machine from his work. A return on the 20th January completed enough to produce a draft plan. We met up with Colin Coventry who turned the lights on in the inner cave for us, and we all went boating on Andy's single person inflatable. The waterfall was fairly low and was iced all the way from top to bottom.

We expect a final trip will probably be necessary to tie up loose ends and that may happen on the 24th February. Tim Lawson is writing a report on the geomorphology and SNH are going to use the results to improve site interpretation and information boards.

Swaledale Meet

At the invitation of Yorkshire Dave (Dave Hodgson) an assortment of GSG members collected at his parent's palatial abode in Reeth, Swaledale. After a convivial evening in one of several local hostelries within easy stagger, some of us were housed in one of a set of terraced cottages on the Hodgson estate, the rest in the main house. On Saturday morning a slightly later than intended start saw us fighting for parking space at Gunnerside. From there Sir Francis Level should be a pleasant stroll up the stream, however recent downpours had left the valley partially devastated with a section of the path washed away, trees flushed out of the hillside, and a fine example of a mudslide just before we reached the entrance.

The Sir Francis Level was cut to drain lead mines further up the valley and extract the ore to separation and other works at its exit. Because of a collapsed section we entered by a 10m ladder pitch down an airshaft. Upstream, water was ponded behind the collapse, and starting at chest deep did slowly shallow to ankle deep over the first few hundred metres. Another collapse then saw it up to our chins for the next 50 metres until it again shallowed gradually to just a fast flowing stream on reaching our destination. Here a flooded shaft descends to a lower level with one cage swinging above the 40m deep water, while a wire rope vanished downwards to the other cage at the bottom. Above this were a couple of fine examples of industrial archaeology: a hydraulically powered winding engine and a hydraulically driven pump to dewater the lower levels. They were supplied with high pressure water from a reservoir high above on the hill fed down a narrow shaft along a six inch pipe. We took a few photos hoping that the clouds of mist from warm bodies in wet wetsuits wouldn't interfere too much. With more immersion still to come and starting to feel the cold we didn't spend much time wandering about but retraced our steps to the surface.

We had just sat down to enjoy a welcome cup of tea and a bite to eat in a nearby cafe, when who should arrive but Peter Roe. That well known local caver of some repute. By the time we'd exchanged news and arranged to (possibly) join in a cave rescue practice on the Sunday, night was falling and plans had to be changed. For those that hadn't been before a quick efficient Crackpot visit was enjoyed before all then met up again - in the pub.

On Sunday we drove up to the Buttertubs and watched the water surging out of Cliff Force Cave. While the others investigated, Roger and I drove further up the valley to find the rescue practice well under way. They were in need of more hands so we pulled on boots and ferried some gear uphill to the entrance for them. Meanwhile the others found that there were enough passages above water level in Cliff Force to give them an entertaining time.

A fine weekend, and a welcome if somewhat damp reintroduction to Swaledale. We must return.


Breakthrough to Notts Pot 2

Late last year in Yorkshire the dig in Committee Pot on Leck Fell broke through into Notts 2 after 5 years of digging. This allows access for non-divers to over a kilometer of superb stream passage with inlet passages galore. Since the breakthrough, exploration has continued, but no great extensions have been found. Any further progress - and there is lots of potential - will require more than a five minute dig. After the event, news spread rapidly and there have been many non-digging visits to the system. So much so that a notice has been posted on alt.caving by the CNCC requesting cavers to stay away while access agreements are formalised.

It sounds as though the dig is one of the main attractions with scaffolded shafts, simple climbs, and short ladders giving easy access to the streamway. Perhaps we can learn something from it for our next push in Rana. The vertical distance dug far exceeds that necessary to reach the Claonaite streamway from Rana Hole.

Nigel Robertson was one of the main diggers and contacted us in December to arrange a special GSG preview after Christmas. It was initially planned for the 27th when about a dozen GSG would have been ready to roll. However it had to be moved to the 28th December when only Goon Roger and Fraser could make it. It didn't make any difference as the roads up to Leck Fell were blocked with snow and after drinking gallons of tea in Bernies the team returned thwarted to Scotland.

A visit is still on the cards to help Nigel with some smoke tests to check out possible connections to nearby caves. Contact Fraser for up to date information.


Andrew Ogilvie reports that he and Tony may have added about 10m to Hibernian Hole to the north ("upstream") of the chamber through a tight passage requiring a bit of clearance. They'd be interested in exchanging notes on this area in light of their recent visits. It has been too wet to make any progress in Big Hammer, though Andrew announces that they are now tooled up for immersion.

Rigging Notes for SRT

Julian Walford points out that there is an account of a rather nasty accident and death at:-

A caver was self-lining using a friction device to absorb the energy of any fall, but he was attached to the rope with an ascender. Under fall conditions the ascender cut the rope allowing the caver to fall to his death. If you are rigging with the intention that the rig will be tolerant of at least one failure (e.g. a bolt failing) then the rig/hang and personal gear must take the resulting fall factor. Both the use of ascenders and cows tails are suspect, without additional energy absorption (e.g via ferrata gear), and even then, as in this case, ascenders are not rated to handle the potential stresses.

Failure mechanism for 1998 Petzl Jammers

During training a SUSS member was practising frog rig SRT when the hand jammer slipped back down the rope when the foot loop was loaded. After trying a range of different jammers the conclusion was that the 1998 model Petzl easily slips down the rope if it is held away from the 'vertical' ie the bottom is twisted back from the rope so that the toothed cam is opened. The cam didn't move as far in an older 1993 model.

When the ascender is twisted to this position the cam is opened so far that only two small teeth can engage the rope. These can wear away with use so there is nothing to pull the cam closed and it easily slips downwards.

The main danger is probably to novices who may panic. The experienced caver would hold the ascender vertical and having read this note wouldn't be disturbed if it did slip.

Forthcoming Meets and Events

See the events page for details.

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


The GSG has applied to the National Association of Mining History Organisations for full membership. I believe we have spent more than enough time exploring, mapping and writing about mines to qualify. If approved as a full member, The GSG's chosen representative will have voting rights on the Association's Council. Because of his deep interest and experience in mines, and his contacts and involvement with NAMHO in the past our representative will be Jim Alexander (01786 82139).

Some meets CAT Mining History Society's meets list that may of interest to members include:- 4 February - Brewery Shaft, Nenthead. A 280 foot descent of the shaft

involving at least four re-belays for those who are fully SRT proficient. 25 February - Coniston Project - A tough trip to explore one of the

inner reaches of the mine - probably to South Vein with a possible

through trip. Participants need to be fully SRT proficient. 28 March - Hudgillburn Mine - CAT's major project. Easy trip to view

what has been found and do some general maintenance.

The NAMHO 2001 event will be based at Avonale House, Co. Wicklow (near to Avoca/ Ballykissangel). The house was owned by Charles Stewart Parnell, who as well as being a prominent Parliamentarian also was involved in mining. The meeting will be in converted chapel (now a lecture room), with adjacent converted stables being used for displays and stands. There are 17 single bedrooms on the site, plus facilities for camping and caravans. Rooms in a new hostel about 3 miles away are being block booked and there are lots of local B&B's.

The dates are Sat 22nd Sept to Mon. 24th Sept. 2001. The format will be one day of talks on the Saturday, with parallel field and underground trips. There will be field and underground trips on Sunday. On the Monday, there will be trips further afield including a visit to the working lead/zinc mine at Tara (the largest lead/zinc mine in Europe). There will be 2 trips here, mill and underground. A conference dinner will be held at the 'Meeting of the Waters' on Sat. evening. Other mine trips are being arranged for the following week, eg Allihies for those staying over.

For more details contact, Dr. M. Parkes, MHSI, c/o Geological Survey of Ireland, Beggar's Bush, Haddington Road, Dublin 4, Ireland. Tel. +353-1-6041493 Email parkesma

Unhappy Xmas in Gilmerton

Residents of Ferniehill Street and Terrace, Gilmerton had a sinking feeling before Christmas last year as their homes gently sunk by several feet. They were built about 20 years ago near the edge of a filled-in quarry. Recent wet weather could have caused the fill to slump, but the cause has also been ascribed to collapses into old mines. Because the houses were built on concrete rafts they moved almost as single units which gave yawning gaps between units and an interesting roofline. A different construction would undoubtedly have led to immediate collapse and injuries or deaths. More than 30 properties were evacuated, some sinking by over five feet.

The occupants have had a far from Happy Xmas, the one slight mitigation of the gloom being that they were able to recover some of their possessions before the buildings were demolished. The peace of mind of those still there wasn't helped when Transco recently replaced 2.2km of cast iron gas main with flexible polyethylene pipe. Nearby residents now watch any fresh cracks with much foreboding.

Elphin Caving Centre

The latest acquisition is a working tuner with an aerial booster. We can now receive just about the complete set of FM stations, though Loch Broom FM is still too weak to listen to. Some may consider that an advantage! Please switch this off at the wall socket, otherwise the booster will be left on.

With the recent extended spell of sub-zero temperatures, the inside of the hut was at about 2.5oC when we arrived on a Friday night. This revealed that the new fridge-freezer has one slight problem. It switches off and the freezer defrosts. That's because it is a single compressor model controlled by the temperature of the fridge section. If the internal hut temperature is lower than that set for the fridge, it just doesn't run and the freezer warms up. So the lesson appears to be that we shouldn't expect the freezer to work during really cold spells if the hut is unoccupied. On the positive side the cold spell also demonstrated that the trace heating is working beautifully.

At your next visit you may notice most trees have had the first foot or so of trunk wrapped in plastic. This is another consequence of the cold snap. The local bunnies have been reduced to gnawing our tree trunks. Some have been effectively ring barked and are unlikely to survive, and all the holly has been grazed up to rabbit height. In the best stable door bolting tradition we've tie-wrapped damp-proof course material round most of the trees still at risk.

There were two recent theme evenings - French and Mexican. The first was stimulated by our stay in the Vercors and served to sample some of the alcohol brought back, the second was a fund raising effort by Jenny Dowswell and friends for a school trip to Mexico in 2001. Both were presided over by another hut newcomer - the battery powered bat. This dangles from the ceiling and flies in circles flashing rabidly red eyes as it goes.

The next event is a Robert .service evening on the 24th February. First held in February 1999 this was enjoyed by all. So polish up your poetry and let us know if you are coming.

Mendip Migration

May we make our annual appeal for those intending to partake in the annual May Mendip Migration to please tell the Hut Warden. Early reports are that there are not likely to be many attending this year. In that case it's even more important to tell Pete as there are always lots of other requests to book the hut at that time of year.

Confirmed Taigh nam Famh Bookings 2001

Date (nights) GroupSize
Feb 23/24 GSG - Robert Service evening16?
Mar 17/18 Virginia Dowswell & The Society of St Francis10
Apr 27/28 Inverness MC12
May 5->12 Mendip Migration 2001 (core time - bank holiday is on 7th)lots?

Hut fees are 5.00 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 want to stay in the hut please tell the Hut Warden - Peter Dowswell as soon as possible to check if there will be space (01592 202627).

Appin Hostel Proposal

It is probably too early to tell, but so far nobody has brought forward any suggestions for a base in the Appin area. We are not looking for a palace or a ruin. A reasonably weathertight shed or even a caravan would possibly suffice. Anyone with any suggestions should contact a committee member.

Membership News

Welcome to new members:-

Ewan Duncan - Now working with the fire brigade in Edinburgh, Ewan has caved in Yorkshire for several years including a fair amount of SRT.

Paul Sowan - has caved mostly in Mendip but also in South Wales and Iceland. He is particularly interested in economic geology applied to mines, quarries and tunnels and has visited them all over the UK and the continent.

And from our foreign correspondent:-

A Happy New Year email from Duk-Hyun Yoon in Korea reported on caving activities last year:- "Actually I did travel more than 10 countries last year, though away from Korea more than half of the year, What a year!...I have visited a couple of caves in Vietnam, of course developed cave because of running short of time, and a fantastic cave in Hamadan, Iran. Also met some cavers in Turkey. This is a sort of balance of my caving activities last year plus few times caving in Korea .

What I am missing mostly at the moment is a shot of whisky at the pub, somewhere in Scotland. Yes, I need scotch whisky !!!!!

GSG Newsletter you send is used to pass to the student team but what they kept on complaining me about those Newsletter is "It doesn't look like English, even very difficult to translate comparing with other articles from America" because we have a member from the states. Do you know what I suggested to them ? 'Study English bit harder and bear in mind, Scottish English is the noblest English style in the world, because Queen's mother speaks like this." Am I correct ? But it is really difficult to me as well to understand the mixtures of Scottish and English culture.

Anyway please let me know if you need more contribution to make it easy to understand :-)

Bye Ivan, and please deliver my heartful greeting to the members, Gunn, old gentleman who used to offer me a short of whisky, Stirling members......"

New Members

Ewan Duncan, Paul Sowan

New Addresses

Jim Conway, Julie Hesketh, Dave Hodgson (details removed from on-line version).

Assynt News

The new Knockan centre is taking shape. This 660,000 project led by Scottish Natural Heritage is creating a new interpretation centre and generally upgrading the site. The toilet block is nearing completion, an octagonal building part way up the geological trail is now roofed and the pathway beyond is being upgraded. The picture shows the building as it was in November. We all await the next developments to see just what it is going to be.

Internet Caving

A useful site for those trying to understand the mess of acronyms that litter technical papers is Just type in the acronym and out comes a list of what it might represent. I tried GSG and it found General Squadron Group, General Support Group, Grenzschutzgruppe (German for Border Protection Unit) and Gross System Group. Not much interest there. However BEC threw up a longer list including Board of Examining Chaplains, BCRA gave Bay City Recreation Area, and NCA gave Norwegian Church Aid, and National Candle Association.

A special-interest group for cave photographers has now been set up in the UK. More info at:-

The Ordnance Survey now publish the co-ordinates of their passive GPS sites on the web. You need to sign up for it at, but that appears to be just a formality. In return you get a password and access to the database of about 900 National GPS Network Passive Stations scattered across the UK. Their co-ordinates are listed to millimeter resolution though their precision is not claimed to be that. You should be able to find one within a few tens of kilometres of any location in the UK.

The nearest to the Assynt caves is at Ledbeg though named Ledmore. It is at NC 2432.712 / 13475.282 Height: 149.446 m. Measuring it with my Garmin gave horizontal errors of less than 10 metres, but the height was out by 19 metres and this seems to be generic. All passive sites I've checked have shown the Garmin GPS 12 to overestimate the height. That wasn't important when selective availability was switched on reducing the accuracy, but now it has gone is becomes really noticeable.

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 email address. All you have to do to receive it is to send me an email, and I'll add you to the distribution list. ivan

Bulletin Alert

March is the publication date for the next Bulletin and currently there is very little material to hand. Please give thought to submissions - of various lengths - and also to colour photographs for the centre-fold (these need not be related to text but must have proper titling). All contributions to Alan Jeffreys.


The next issue of the Bulletin will see the conclusion of the 3rd Series and consequently a large, 81 page, index will be issued at the same time. Recognising the relatively limited appeal of this it is proposed to produce only around 20 to 25 paper copies in the first instance. Alternatively, PC users can send a floppy disc and receive a copy in Microsoft Word 97 format. It will be a straight duplicate of the hard copy, not a searchable database. Please let the editor know if you wish a paper copy of the index.

Hut Log

Pursuing a programme of publishing the club hut logs, volume 3 - the first Taigh nam Famh log (1994-97) has now been produced. The 100 page work may be obtained from Alan Jeffreys, priced 9.00 inc. postage. Cheques should be made payable to HIM, NOT the G.S.G.


  1. Send your annual subscription NOW to Ivan and think about paying by standing order
  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 NOW to Goon for the March 2001 GSG Bulletin.

GSG publications (prices to non-members in brackets)

Caves of Skye 6.00 (8.50) QRA Assynt and Coigach
Caving Songs of Mendip - 3.00 (4.00) Field Guide - 10.00 (12.00)
The Southern Highlands - 1.20 (1.50) Caves of Schichallion 3.00 (4.00)*
Appin Cave Guide - 1.50 (2.00)* Buddy reading
(Caving in Couplets) 2.00 (2.50)
* out of print - photocopies available
Postage extra - order from:- Alan Jeffreys, 8 Scone Gardens, Edinburgh, EH8 7DQ (0131 661 1123) or:- Ivan Young, 45 Maitland Road, Kirkliston, West Lothian, EH29 9AP (0131 333 3084)

Please make cheques payable to "G.S.G."

Credits:- Photos - Ivan Young, Andy Peggie & Paint Shop Pro

Ivan Young - ivan Grampian Speleological Group

Grampian Speleological Group home page