Grampian Speleological Group Newsletter
Number 115, March 2003


GSG Annual General Meeting

This years AGM was held in Winchburgh again, but for added variety, the proceedings commenced at 10.30am. There was a very good turn out - 20 members, plus associated Juniors, made it along. Below is a brief account of the main points - for the full set of minutes please contact me.

Annual Dinner 2004

As reported above, this year's GSG Annual Dinner will be held somewhere in or near Appin. Malcolm McConville has already made enquiries, and after some initial unpromising responses (eg 25 per head for dinner) thinks he has found a site much better suited to a club dinner. We will be publishing details in the next Newsletter (and earlier for those on our email distribution list). The most likely date for it is Saturday 25 October, so do remember to reserve that weekend for the event.

GSG Annual Subscription

For members who like to leave things to the very last minute that time has now arrived. You should have paid your 2003 GSG membership subscription in January and it is now March. Check the envelope this Newsletter arrived in. If I think you have still to pay there will be a 'SUB DUE' note on the address label. If it is there the consequences of not paying are that your name will be removed from the membership lists, you wont receive any more Newsletters or Bulletins, you'll not be covered by the BCRA Insurance scheme, and you'll have to pay non-members rates when staying at the hut.

Subscriptions for 2003 remain at 15 for full and 20 for joint members, with reductions to 7.50 and 10 for full time students, the unemployed and those over 65. Junior membership is 5 (under 16 years) Make your cheque payable to 'G.S.G.' and send it now to Ivan Young.


Caving News



Six members descended most of a very wet Yordas at the end of December. The higher than normal rope use because of the conditions prevented a complete descent. An alternate view is that somebody hadn't done their sums!

An extremely well attended GSG meet descended Notts Pot in January. To avoid pitch congestion the fourteen cavers split into three groups. One party spent a couple of hours enjoying Notts II, while the other groups split between Centre and Left-Hand Routes in Notts Pot. We had intended a variation of the Left-Hand Route called Twilight Zone, but a pendulum was missed on the way down and as a result we thought we'd be one rope short to bottom the cave. Some of us completed a round trip by ascending Centre Route and dropping the last rope for the others to continue. In fact the rigging guide rigs long traverses that donut require it, and there would have been enough rope anyway.

As we left Three Ways Chamber we met the Notts II party coming in. With everyone then congregating on a congested single route, the early 'risers' were able to get back to the car, change, drive to Bernies for a leisurely tea and toasted teacake, and get back to Leck Fell just as the next group to exit arrived back at their cars. It had been dry till then, but started to rain quite enthusiastically while we waited another hour or so for everyone else to reappear. It was a fine trip and a good introduction for Chris and Simon from Hi-Rope to vertical caving.

Ten members and friends descended Lancaster Hole in February and, to be different, emerged from it several hours later. It made a change to explore the intricacies of this part of the system instead of always charging along the trade route through to County Pot or Wretched Rabbit. The Graveyard, Fall Pot, Montague East and West and most passages in between were all visited, and we inspected the formations in the Colonnades, and Slug World. The helictites in the latter are well worth a visit, but do take great care as you crawl through to them.

Mike O'Driscoll had chosen this trip to introduce a friend, Tara, to caving, and heed brought GSG ladders along for her to climb up the entrance pitch thinking that would be easier than learning SRT. She successfully abseiled down after some rapid instruction on how to use Mike's rack, but progress on the exit was not so smooth. She managed about 20 feet of ladder before finding it too strenuous and went back down for a quick SRT lesson. A quick learner, she emerged into the dimming sunlight with a smile still on her face. We were staying near Clapham, and that evening N-a-t--m gave a particularly explosive display of projectile vomiting. Perhaps Davie shouldn't have spun him around in his chair? On the Sunday most of the party descended Sunset Hole to the Final Chamber. Despite the good weather (or was it because?) we had the cave to ourselves. In fact even Lancaster Hole had been almost deserted: we saw only one other party of two there all day.

During January Roger, Alice and Yorkshire Dave went for an evening trip into Cliff Force Cave, Swaledale. The following day Pete Roe took them on a tourist trip into new discoveries in Devis Hole Mine Caves. They saw some stunning fossils and artefacts, and spent several hours digging.

Meghalaya 2003

Caving in the Abode of the Clouds 2003 has continued to build on the success of previous years with another 25km+ of Meghalayan caves explored and mapped over a four week period in February.

This year's contingent was again multinational with around fifteen people from the UK, eight Germans, one Austrian, one Swiss and around six Meghalayans involved in cave exploration together with some local guides.

The expedition was split into two main groups with the larger returning to the Shnongrim Ridge to continue unfinished business there and drop further shafts whilst a smaller group (eleven plus drivers) visiting the West Khasi hills at Khunjoy and then continuing on to the Garo Hills at Siju and then Asakhere. Both parties eventually returned to Shillong on 27th February for the usual farewell party on the 28th.

Tony Boycott and Jayne Stead's visit was severely marred by Jayne breaking a leg whilst at Maheshkola Inspection Bungalow after missing her footing. She was evacuated to Shillong to the Nazareth Hospital where she received treatment before eventually flying home with Tony. Tony's experience with medical evacuation left a great deal to be desired and was the cause of intense frustration.

Although no major new caves were found this year that would match Liath Prah or Umthloo there are plenty of leads ongoing with, as usual, many of the best happening just as time was running out. Plenty of reasons to return for next year's party.

All thanks due to the Meghalayans Adventurers Association for again doing a fine job of sorting out the logistics. A full report will appear in the next bulletin.

Peter Dowswell

Hidden Earth 2003

The latest news on this year's National Caving Conference is that it'll be later than usual. The BCRA web site apologises for this and predicts that it'll be held in Skipton in late October or early November. This could make it easier for us to get a good attendance as it'll definitely miss any September expeditions. On the down side what do you think is the probability that the BCRA will select the traditional GSG Annual Dinner weekend? However I expect that there should be enough warning for us to move to a different weekend if that does happen.

Please note Alan's plea in the last Newsletter and make a special effort to attend this nearest ever conference to Scotland. Anyone with ideas for a club stand or time to help with construction should contact Alan.

Meghalayan Caving Calendar - 2003/04

For this year's Indian expedition a special 2003 calendar illustrated with colour photographs of the caves was created by Peter Dowswell for expedition members. Copies are now available to all, and in recognition of the present date they start on the 1st April 2003 and run through to 31st March 2004.

The calendar includes fourteen colour photographs by Simon Brooks, Yvo Weidman, Fraser Simpson and Paul Edmunds. It includes data on the expeditions over the last decade, and is printed on gloss A4 paper with card backing, transparent covers and is spiral bound.

They can be obtained from Ivan at 5.00 plus 1.00 for postage and packing.

Public Liability Insurance

The only progress to report on this subject is that the amendments to the GSG Constitution were approved at the AGM. This will allow us to deliver different services to different classes of member, and therefore restrict the distribution of expensive rights to those paying yearly subscriptions. This change was initiated because of the rising cost of the BCRA insurance scheme. That is being renegotiated and reorganized as responsibility for running it transfers to the NCA. We donut know what shape it is going to take, and it is possible that we might still be require more changes to the GSG constitution at an EGM later this year. It appears likely that the insurance scheme will change to an individual named basis with a separate premium to cover clubs' liability

Forthcoming Meets and Events

See the events page for details.

This list should expand quickly now that Fraser and Peter Dowswell are back from Meghalaya. More Yorkshire pots will be booked and many hut building and gourmet events will be scheduled for Assynt. The revised list will be emailed out when ready.

Mike O'Driscoll has been heard planning a visit to County Fermanagh, Ireland, and as always there will be more trips arranged at short notice. Now that Fraser has returned from Meghalaya he will produce a longer meets list and that'll be sent out with the next Newsletter (or earlier to those on the email distribution list) So if you want to see your favourite cave on the list, talk about it to Fraser. (Tel home:- 01383 860653, email:- Fraser @ And to learn the latest news of what is about to happen call in at the Oxford Bar on Tuesday evening.

Elphin Caving Centre

The social whirl has continued with Peter D supplying a barrel at New Year, a Burns Supper held in January and an Indian (curry) evening in February. More events are being planned in the expectation that they'll tempt folk along to help with conservatory construction and cave surveying.

News of who is migrating from Mendip this year is slow in coming. Peter Glanvill has booked in from 28th April to 5th May. Would the rest of you please tell Pete soon so we know how many bunks should be reserved and for how long.

Taigh nam Famh Bookings

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. Day fees are 1.00 for members and 2.00 for non-members.

If you want to stay in the hut please contact with the Hut Warden - Peter Dowswell as soon as possible to check if there will be space (01592 202627).

Hut-building - and maintenance

Now that longer days and better weather have arrived, Peter will be ordering the windows and roofing materials for the conservatory. There will be regular work weekends with the first on the 26/27th April. As well as the conservatory there are plenty of other jobs so please make a real attempt to volunteer for at least one weekend and help keep our hut the best in Scotland.

During February Joan, one of Ivan's friends with connections in commercial gardening, organised a donation of hedging plants. While Ivan built a rabbit proof fence with help from Mike O'Driscoll and Martin Hayes, she planted out a mixture of about 200 hawthorn and blackthorn 'twigs.' They run in two rows along the south boundary from the BBQ to the SEW corner and then part way along towards the gate. At the septic tank the inner fence cuts the corner leaving a larger triangle where Joan planted a score or so of sloes. It'll be interesting to see if the Assynt climate produces a decent crop of fruit.

New blinds have been bought for the bunk rooms and will be fitted during our next visit. The old ones are more than slightly dirty and are becoming tattered.


The GSG is now the proud owner of a Sony digital video camera. Fraser bought some batteries, lights and a Peli case and took the whole lot out to Meghalaya. It worked well and we look forward to seeing another expedition video report. One point is that the camera senses the ambient humidity and if it is too high refuses to work. For British caving conditions Fraser plans to buy a sports housing to protect it and keep it dry and running.

Membership News

Welcome to new members:-

Bob Batty - has been a long distance Assynt enthusiast for some time making regular trips from deepest Devon. Hess now n Austrian working in Aberdeen for BP until they send him elsewhere. He has several years of cave exploration experience in Austria.

Chris Chapman - of Hi-Rope and Tweed Valley Mountain Rescue Team is an expert in and trainer for industrial rope access. We are trying to wean him off double ropes by taking him on SRT trips down Yorkshire pots.

Rosie Jones - is a member of the reformed Aberdeen University club and with two visits already to the hut quickly saw that joining the GSG was a real bargain!

New Members

Bob Batty, Chris Chapman, Rosie Jones

New addresses

John Varty & Jacqueline Thompson, Julian Warren

A New Year email from Quito

Jonathan and I went cave diving in Florida for the New Year. It was my first stint at caving underwater and as far as I am concerned it is the only way to cave. Jonathan had to relearn the American style. Visited Ginnie Springs which proved interesting to other members of our group and also other less know local caves. Cant wait to try some more in Sutherland!!! The chance would be great. Happy new year to all from Jonathan and I.

Deidre Nagle


Yorkshire Dave needs a CEAG head set and separate CEAG switch - cable not necessary. Anybody with one for sale should contact Dave Hodgson on 0161 764 0099

Articles for the March 2003 GSG Bulletin. Please sent to Alan Jeffreys

Assynt News

Chris Warwick reports that the track up Glen Cassley beyond the keeper's house at Duchally is being improved. Eventually it'll be navigable as far as Gorm Loch Mor which it at the southern end of the Three Lochs Karst area and within 2 km of St George's Cave. Well report later on progress, but if you want to use the track ask the keeper - Donald Clark - at Duchally first (01549 441232) and tell us what you find..

Internet Caving

The GSG site maintained by Andrew Brooks is at:-

GSG publications (prices to non-members in brackets)

NEW - Meghalaya Calendar 2003 (and a bit of 2004) - 5.00
Caves of Skye - 6.00 (8.50) Caves of Assynt - 6.00 (8.50)*
Caving Songs of Mendip - 3.00 (4.00) Caves of Schichallion 3.00 (4.00)*
The Southern Highlands - 1.20 (1.50) 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."

Grampian Speleological Group home page