Grampian Speleological Group Newsletter
Number 110, October 2001


GSG Annual Dinner 2001

This year's annual dinner will after all be held in Yorkshire. Despite the hesitation reported in the last Newsletter we have decide to stick with the AGM vote. Nigel Robertson volunteered to find a suitable location and he has booked the Goat Gap Inn. This is 3km east of Ingleton on the A65. The date is Saturday 27th October and the price is 12.95 The menu appears overleaf and there is a booking form enclosed with this Newsletter for you to complete and return with your payment as soon as possible as time is now very short. Those on the email distribution list will receive an early copy and are invited to reply by the same method to speed the process. Note that I'll still be expecting a real paper cheque as the GSG isn't set up for electronic funds transfer. Make your cheque payable to G.S.G. and sent it to me at:- GSG, 45 Maitland Road, Kirkliston, West Lothian, EH29 9AP.

There is a wide choice of accommodation available locally. In the Inn there are four rooms - three double and one twin - available at 48 B&B per room per night. Contact the Inn directly if you want to stay there (Tel:- 015242 41230). There is also camping at a special price of 5 per tent. The Goat Gap Inn has a fully equipped camping and caravan site. Facilities include a w.c. and shower block, power points, and standpipes. It also has its own helicopter pad!! For more details look at:-

Fraser tried to book space in Green Close which is almost exactly 1 mile away, downhill, on the other side of the A65. However it has been closed since early this year because of foot and mouth and the NPC won't have decided whether to reopen until the middle of October. So Roger has booked the Yorkshire Ramblers palace near Clapham at 7 per person per night. Payment is in advance using the dinner booking form.

Lowstern is on the B6480 Clapham to Bentham road, a quarter of a mile from the junction with the A65 (Clapham bypass). Grid reference SD 736691. The hut is in a small plantation to the south of the road and approached through double gates and up a short track. Vehicles may be parked beside the hut. To stay friends with the farmer it is essential that the track is kept clear and the gates closed.

The cottage has 16 bunks (4 plus 12) in two rooms on the first floor. It has a drying room with dehumidifier, storage heater and spin dryer and a cold water sluice room for washing caving gear. Logs are provided for an open fire in the main room but we should bring our own kindling and NOT collect wood from the surrounding plantation. There is no rubbish collection so we have to take our refuse away with us. There are a few restrictions:-


Chef's soup of the day
Garlic mushrooms with a mayonnaise dip & salad garnish
Potato skins topped with Cheddar cheese and onion with a garlic dip
Prawn cocktail
Fruit juice
Lamb Henry - braised lamb shank with mint & onion gravy
Prime 8oz-sirloin steak garnished with mushroom and tomato
Chicken Valentine - butterfly chicken breast topped with cheese & red pepper
Poached wild salmon topped with buttered prawns
Vegetarian selection

Roast and Boiled Potatoes
Selection of Seasonal Vegetables
Selection of desserts

Please fill in and return the booking form with your payment quickly, and by the 15th October at the very latest.

Foot & Mouth - Latest

While the number of new cases per week continues to reduce, there are more than enough to keep farmers nervous and caving restricted. All recent cases - about five a week - have been in the north of England. At the end of September just as Yorkshire cavers were hoping that the restriction on the Leck and Casterton Fell area would be lifted, a case appeared in Barbondale. The 3km exclusion zone comes to within a few metres of Bull Pot Farm, and footpaths in the area have been closed again as far west as a line from Bentham through Ingleton to Ribblehead Viaduct then north along the railway line. This probably closes most of the caves on Whernside and in Kingsdale that had reopened. It isn't clear if this will officially close all the caves, but cavers should continue to be sensitive to the farmers' fears and either steer clear of the area or seek local advice in Bernies or Inglesport before a visit. Good sources for the very latest information are uk.rec.caving and the NCA web site:-

Caving in other parts of England and Wales continues to have restrictions. For example the normal entrance to Swildons is currently off limits, though the alternative - Priddy Green Sink - is open for the really determined who wish to challenge their immune systems. Check the CSCC web site at for the latest on Mendip access.

Caving News


Rana Hole - Two digging sessions on the 22nd and 23rd September removed another 231 bucket loads and hit bottom! A solid rock floor has been reached and progress now needs another direction. The likely route is under the wall to the right as you stand facing the ladder at the foot of the pitch. The next visit will finish clearing the bottom and see what is revealed. Will the undercut lead to the way on, or is more drastic action is going to be required? We are all hoping that the way on isn't back towards the middle of the shakehole!

Uamh an Claonaite - Dan and Fraser dived to Claonaite 7 and carefully removed the jawbone from the bear's skeleton at the start of Legless Highway. It just fitted in the Pelicase Fraser uses for his camera. It was delivered to Andrew Kitchener at the Royal Scottish Museum who handed it over for conservation. He'll get his hands on it once that process is complete.

Nenthead Mines, Cumbria

An excellent weekend was spent roaming around these extensive lead mines. We stayed in the Youth Hostel in Alston and didn't quite succeed in drinking and/or eating in all of the pubs in the village. Trips into the mines took place on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and with most of the caves in England off-limits because of foot and mouth the car park there was almost full to overflowing with cavers.

The trip into Smallcleugh level on Saturday saw clockwise and anti-clockwise groups exploring the intricacies of the extensive workings. Some of the passages shown on the published plan (Martin Critchley, The Nenthead Mines) are now blocked, while we found more that are not shown at all.

On Sunday one group donned wetsuits to wade up Caplecleugh Low Level and explore the rises beyond, while another entered Rampgill and explored along the Scaleburn Vein. Here a 'secret' passage led to a collapsed horse gin. Another passage was followed through a collapse which had had oil drums inserted - one telescoped inside the other to make progress really tight and challenging.

Overall an excellent weekend and with so much passage left unseen we must return. Our thanks to Jim Alexander for helping to organise the weekend and for leading us through some of the 'maze of twisty passages all alike!'

Cuevas de Jumandi, Ecuador

In July this year a group of senior pupils from Perth Academy were introduced to caving by Jackie Yuill. The opportunity arose during a World Challenge expedition when the team spent some time in the rain forest of the Northern Oriente, east of Quito. With outside air temperatures averaging 28 - 300C, it was a delight to be caving with minimum clothing (although not as little as some historic GSG trips I have been on!). Lack of lights, helmets or indeed any caving gear whatsoever added a certain frisson to the trip.

A full account (or at least all I will publicly admit to) will appear in the next Bulletin.

Jackie Yuill

Ed:- Reportedly this show cave is a more exciting experience than the usual UK site. Visitors - without any warning or enquiry as to their aquatic skills - are expected to swim across the 3m deep river flowing through the cave!

Property Owners' Perils in Normandy

Following reports in previous Newsletters of subsidence in Gilmerton, Edinburgh, Nick has send in a report from the New York Times of similar problems in Normandy. It appears that a large area is underlain by chalk and a very large number of mines were dug to extract chalk for agriculture. With the passing of years the entrances have disappeared, and the precise location and even the existence of many is now unknown. There are estimated to be about 140,000 and many were never recorded to avoid paying tax. These are now causing problems. The recent wet weather is blamed for literally hundreds of craters appearing across the Normandy landscape. Not so bad if they appear in the middle of fields, but in the hundred plus years since they were excavated there has been plenty of time for houses to be built on top of them. One resident hearing a loud crashing noise outside his house charged out through the back door and has never been seen again. He fell into a deep crater that had just appeared and was swallowed up by the earth. Weeks of digging failed to find his body. This is casting a blight on all housing in the area, and anyone planning to buy a retirement home in the affected area would be advised to investigate the geology very carefully.

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.

Fraser Simpson (Tel home:- 01383 860653)

GSG Autumn Trip to the Dolomites

The September fortnight in the Dolomites started with heightened security at Stanstead as we took a flight to Munich in the company of English football fans about to cheer England on to their 5:1 victory over Germany. It ended with even more onerous security precautions due to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre and Pentagon. During our stay September 11th saw us all glued to CNN World Service disbelieving just what was unfolding. One of our number was convinced the film of the second aircraft flying into the WTC was a simulation!

This year's weather wasn't as kind as that of the last visit in 1999. There was considerably more snow around and some vie ferrata routes were made more interesting by a coating of ice. Several were impassible and were not attempted. A couple of days were wet and there were several visits to the WW1 tunnels at Lagazuoi and to the extensive trench systems along and behind the front lines. Several pieces of used and unused munitions were found. Peter Ireson found a particularly fine brass nose from a shell with graduated scales - perhaps to set a time delay. That is coming back via car. Nobody wanted to attempt taking it back by plane! The very last evening it started snowing and by the time we left on the Saturday morning we had six inches of it to brush off the cars.

The 20 members of the party between them did a wide variety of vie ferrata at grades from 'a' (easiest) to 'g' (hardest). All this was recorded both on film (digital and traditional) and some on video. Each evening the day's activities were recorded on lap top and Pete Ireson is planning to transfer everything including scanned photographs to a CD as a record of the trip. Thanks to Carol for arranging (again) superb accommodation and to Pete Dowswell for his usual superb culinary creations.

To all whom it (certainly) concerns

Claonaite is spelt C L A O N A I T E

All authors please note there are two As!!

Elphin Caving Centre

The highlight of the autumn was Pete and Dick's joint pig bake event. Three joints totalling 11 kg of pig took part along with a couple of dozen members and some welcome faces from Elphin and the Alt. Pete played his now accustomed role of head chef and had ovens, hob and BBQ all at full throttle. The quantity of food was overwhelming and kept us all fed through breakfast and lunch on the Sunday. We did manage to polish off the beer, a barrel of Red Cuillin donated by Eric. Excellent stuff. We're working on him to make it a fixture at the Alt. He did hold out some hope that one might appear if we have another mass Mendip migration or similar event with a guaranteed throng of beer drinkers. He doesn't have a suitable cellar to keep it long term.

During the evening Simon Brooks projected slides from his recent expedition into Iran. This allowed Peter and Andy who'd been there with Napier College several decades ago to compare notes and water levels. In one show cave the walkways are evidently constructed from marble!

Confirmed Taigh nam Famh Bookings

Date (nights)GroupSize
Nov/Dec 2001 ?Pete is going to arrange a theme evening before the end of the year An announcement will be made by email when the date is known.
New YearGSG - the usual crew no doubt?hoards
May 3-11? 2002
(core time - bank holiday is on 6th)
Mendip Migration 2001lots
June 12-15Douglas Wood & friends (fishing)12

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).

Membership News

Welcome back to Nigel Marsh (1981->94). Some of our older members may remember the superb firework display Nigel created in the Linlithgow woods many years ago. Oil drums packed with Roman candles and mortars firing over our heads made a lasting impression on our memories and eardrums.

Jim Alexander now has a son David born on Tuesday September 11th. It wasn't all bad news that day .

We have lost Richard Blake. Does anyone have his new address?

New Addresses

Not reproduced in online version:
Nigel Marsh
Paul Archibald
Kate Janossy
Derek Pettiglio

Assynt News

The new improved Knockan Centre now boasts a toilet block with a grass roof and an octagonal viewing point packed with interpretative and interactive displays. Spin handles and watch the Moine Thrust in action or Scotland's journey across the globe. It is fine - as far as it goes - but the content is light and no leaflets were available. They are promised for October. The one video display was stuck in the language selection screen. The geological and nature trails have had work done on them, but an inspection tour was left for another time. It has all been designed for unattended operation and there isn't even a small room - as there was in the old building - where someone could provide more information and perhaps sell publications on the local flora, fauna and geology.

Internet Caving

An interesting site describing urban alternatives to caves exists at:- the web site for Infiltration - "the zine about going places you're not supposed to go." Read the story of a ten hour trip in the Parisian catacombs and draining in Canada.

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


  1. Don't delay, send your GSG Annual Dinner booking to Ivan today!!!
  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!
  3. Let Fraser know of any caves you'd like to see on the GSG Meets List
  4. Send address list changes and corrections to Ivan

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's camera & Paint Shop Pro

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