Grampian Speleological Group Newsletter
Number 118, March 2004


GSG Annual General Meeting

This year's AGM was held on Feb 7th in Winchburgh and was attended by 15 members. Many thanks to Liz and Derek for hosting the event in their house and supplying nibbles and tea/coffee afterwards. Here are the highlights extracted from the minutes by Elizabeth:-

Treasurer' Report - Club finances are healthy, despite the expenditure on the conservatory. Gift aid is a useful means of claiming tax back on donations, which include donations of travel expenses for club business, though the claim and the donation must be separate transactions and not a 'gift in kind'.

GSG Domain name - the Secretary reported purchase of a domain name for the club - this is www.gsg.org.uk. This address will take browsers to the existing GSG Website. The following email addresses have also been set up @ gsg.org.uk :
enquiries - will be automatically directed to the Secretary (EE)
hutbookings - will be directed to the hut warden (PD)
Other addresses will be set up as needed for the office bearers

Office Bearers 2004 - Fraser retired as Caving Secretary and CJ had indicated that he'd appreciate a replacement being found for Tackle Master. All other office bearers were willing to be re-elected. There were nominations at the meeting for Caving Secretary (Fiona Ware) and Tackle Master (Peter Ireson). The Committee was elected unopposed as follows:-

Chairman - Peter Dowswell, Caving Secretary - Fiona Ware, Hut warden - Peter Dowswell, Tackle Master - Peter Ireson, Treasurer - Ivan Young, Secretary - Elizabeth Ellis, Recorder - Alan Jeffreys.

Public Liability Insurance - Members had received information about this, specifically that all club members were required to pay 6.00 and caving members 18.00. The GSG Management Committee had reduced the basal level of subscription this year, but for most members the total meant a substantial increase. This was agreed to be necessary. A change to the constitution was passed removing the class of Junior membership because of the liability issues this raised for the Group.

Dinner Venue - There were 9 postal/email votes. After discussion, votes were cast as follows: Assynt - 18; Derbyshire - 1; Yorkshire - 1; Mendip - 4. Assynt was declared the winner. Ivan will enquire at the Inchnadamph Hotel in the first instance.

Caving Meet Records - There was a strong feeling expressed that members should make every effort to record their activities and this was endorsed by members present. A new system of recording had been agreed by the Committee, that is, that members should either write in the log book directly as at present, or should email reports to the Recorder, who will make an entry in the Logbook that is cross-referenced to a paper copy of the report kept in a separate folder. Members producing longer more complex reports can hand a printed copy (A4 paper please) to the Recorder for similar treatment. When a log book is full and archived, the accompanying folder of reports will be bound at the same time.

Publications - Efforts will be made to complete Caves of Assynt this year. Caves of Appin and Caves of Raasay are also in preparation. Meghalaya calendars are available at 4.00, and other calendars were proposed. Members were invited to supply Pete Dowswell with suitable images for a Scottish calendar.

Meets & Expeditions - Several were proposed including: Claire, Skye, Vancouver Island, Vercours, Meghalaya 2005, Khazakstan and Cuba. Anyone who is interested in any of the above or wishes to suggest other meets or expeditions should contact Fiona.

Future of the Club Library - There was a discussion on long-term planning for the future location of the library. The ideal solution would be to continue to maintain the collection in a member's house. Depositing it with a University or Public Library would not provide sufficient control or access. Members with views or solutions should contact the Committee.

A copy of the 2002/03 accounts, and reports from the Chairman, Recorder and Treasurer accompany this Newsletter. Any member who wants a full copy of the AGM minutes should contact elizabeth@gsg.org.uk

Elizabeth


GSG Annual Subscription - have you paid in full for 2004?

The payment and collection of this year's annual subscription has been complicated by the introduction of the two tier BCA Public Liability Insurance scheme and by the much higher levels of premium required (see later). This has meant that everybody has to pay, even those of you who might think your standing order would be sufficient. There has been a good response to the information package sent out in January with details of the new subscription levels and the SAE probably helped. So far 90 of last year's 141 members have renewed for 2004 with 50 choosing the caving level of insurance. There are still 14 members who paid before the new insurance premium was announced and I am waiting for them to top up their subscription. That gives us three groups - fully paid, partially paid and unpaid.

The GSG constitution gives members until the 1st April to pay their subscription. Because the GSG was in the BCRA insurance scheme we are allowed until the 31st March to pay the insurance premium for all our members so fortunately the dates are aligned. Anybody who hasn't paid by 1st April will be removed from the membership list and that does include life members. So please take note and ensure that you pay now to remain a GSG member.

That leaves the problem of what to do on 1st April with those who have partially paid. Since they have paid last year's level of subscription I shall assume they want to remain GSG members. They will be enrolled as non-caving members of the BCA Insurance scheme. They will then have paid 75% of the basic subscription so they will remain on the membership list until the end of September 2004. At any time - preferably now - a cheque for 3.00 will top up their subscription for the whole year. This increases to 15.00 if they want the caving level of insurance.

Check the label on the envelope this Newsletter was posted in. It will have a note above the address if your membership has still to be renewed. There should also be a letter accompanying this Newsletter setting out your options.

Ivan


Public Liability Insurance

The BCA after a lot of hard work by Nick Williams and other BCRA/BCA/NCA folk managed to get a national public liability insurance scheme up and running again for the 1st January. This was for a considerably higher premium than in previous years, and the individual caver premiums of 6.00 for non-caving members and 18.00 for active cavers represents a gamble. The policy required payment of a single enormous premium and the BCA are crossing their collective fingers and hoping that enough of us sign up for them to recover their outlay. They need to raise about 55000 to cover the premium and pay for the admin and other costs of operating the scheme. So far they think they are on course to do so. If they do not and the scheme makes a loss than there may not be any insurance next year!

Membership cards will be issued to all caving members of the scheme and will be probably be sent out with the next Newsletter or Bulletin. Because the GSG are in the insurance scheme all GSG members are members of the BCA and entitled to all the benefits that flow from that (see later).

Details of the scheme can be found on the BCA website:- http://www.british-caving.org.uk/ There is a new Questions and Answers document with the number of questions increased from the 59 of the version sent out to GSG members in January to 108 now.

Ivan


Caving News

ASSYNT

Rana Hole - There has been more excellent progress with a record 245 bucket-loads of spoil extracted to the surface on the 13th December. The total for 2003 was 1930 loads which is more than the totals for the previous three years combined! Two weekends so far in 2004 have added another 267 loads to the spoil heap. The excavation is now heading back under the BBC pitch towards Belh Aven. Here the rift had pinched in behind the ladder giving a solid roof above a steeply descending airspace. It is too tight at the top but widens as we dig down. The water is still running away freely over the fill and the excavation is steadily deepening.

Cnoc nan Uamh - Dan Harries and Fraser Simpson have been diving upstream from the Lake in Landslip Chamber. The first dive by Dan on the 2nd January added another 25m to the 20m laid by Peter Mulholland last April. The maximum depth in the spacious passage was 12m and relatively free of silt. On the 25th January another 40m of line was laid bringing the total distance from base up to 85m. The diving was straight-forward still in large passage with quite a bit of old line. This risks entangling divers and needs to be removed. During the next dive on 21st February Dan extended the line to the 125m mark without reaching the air bell reported at that distance. The depth, however, had decreased to 3m so there shouldn't be much further to go. Once Dan was out Fraser dived to familiarize himself with the sump and removed some of the old line.

ANUSC - Another attempt at surveying the Farr Series was started this year by Andy Peggie assisted by Fiona Ware. They surveyed through the linking crawl and this time left stations marked with Typex. During February Dave Warren took Richard McKendrick, new owner of the Inch, around the cave. Also present was one of Richard's Dutch friends with his daughters.

APPIN

Glen Duror - On Saturday 14th February we returned to check the results of last October's bang in Draught Caledonian and to continue digging in Albion Pot. The Edinburgh contingent assembled outside what used to be the Duror Inn, since renamed the MacDonald Arms and now a B&B and no longer a pub. We drove up to the car park below the caves to find a car already there. Andrew Ogilvie and Tony Lenehan from Glasgow were up the hill and, as we shortly found, in Draught Caledonian. Malcolm McConville and Martin Hayes were soon extracting rock from the bang site and reported that a body length had been gained with another similar distance visible. Meanwhile the rest of the troop was busy making the entrance of Albion Pot more stable and safer.

We were joined on Saturday by Tony Robson a Yorkshire caver working in Oban who we introduced to the delights of Draught Caledonian. Also from Oban GSG member George Kennedy arrived to find Ivan busy GPSing entrances and took the opportunity to descend Hibernian Hole and Draught Caledonian.

As evening approached, a conga of cars followed Malcolm as he drove along the forest tracks. After a couple of 180 degree turns all found their way to the front door of the Mountain Bothies Association bothy in Glen Duror. This proved to be a fine shelter for the night. Roger had brought fuel for the wood-burning stove and the flue was soon red hot.

On Sunday while work continued at Albion Pot, Ivan and Martin armed with survey and GPS tracked down the spot on the hillside above the end of Draught Caledonian Cave. This was close to a flattening in a dry grassy gully (a possible dig site?) and only a few meters higher than the end of the cave. There were no stream sinks anywhere nearby so the source of the water in the cave is still unknown.

At Albion Pot the entrance now looked in much better shape with scaffolding holding back a large boulder on which Roger and Martin erected a retaining wall of rocks. The cave is now about 9m deep and a tape measure was quickly stretched out recording a total distance including pitches of 20m. At the present end progress is fairly easy though the digger does have to lie flat out in the water. Now the entrance is more secure the next visit can concentrate on making progress downstream. Before leaving the entrance was partially 'capped' with fence posts and a metal grid.

As we walked downhill we met George just arriving with Speedy. He continued uphill to check the higher slopes of the mountain further to the east. Back at the car park Kate Janossy arrived in her new sparkly green 4x4 to distribute coffee, just too late to catch George. With a wide open cave (okay a narrow wet low cave) in front of us, an early return to Albion Pot must be a high priority.

Tyndrum Lead Mines - A return trip by messrs Salvona, Ireson and Young started at the top of the hill and worked downward. Several more entrances were found above those we explored last time (see NL117). As well as some gaping holes that were not descended except by the waterfalls on a rather wet day, four more levels were entered. One, the highest, had rapidly deepening water and was left for a hot dry summer day. A lower one entered the side of a massive and deep excavation that'll take some thought and good belay points to explore any further. We returned to the main haulage level and thoroughly explored all its branches except for a shaft part-way in. The other shaft mentioned in NL117 further down the hillside was descended by Peter to an immediate and complete dead end. There are enough loose ends to justify another visit and I am trying to find references and perhaps even a survey of the mines.

YORKSHIRE

The February Yorkshire visit descended a relatively dry (though freezing) Diccan Pot. Another party were already down so the GSG ropes were rigged in parallel. The Sunday plan was for Sell Gill Holes, but all routes there were busy so everyone went exploring the nearby Jackdaw Hole hoping that Sell Gill would be quieter afterwards. It wasn't and the muddy post-Jackdaw state of the GSG raised two questions from those waiting to descend Sell Gill - 'Where did you go to get so muddy?' and then 'Why on earth did you go there?'

EDINBURGH

Once again Jeannie Barries Cave (near Carlops) is receiving attention from GSG diggers. Why would be a good question. I believe the Tuesday evening visits serve to a) introduce some newer members to the delight of JB and b) keep the keener diggers' skills honed to perfection.


Caving Log Books

The GSG doesn't exist just so that members can enjoy(?) themselves underground, swap stories in the pub and eat enormous meals in the hut. It exists to further speleology and that means discovering, exploring and recording caves and other underground sites wherever they may be found. A very necessary, I would say essential, part of this is the recording.

The club has two log books where members can write up their exploits and achievements. One is kept in Edinburgh by the Hon Reorder (Goon) and can usually be found at the Cambridge on Tuesday evenings. The other is kept in Taigh nam Famh for recording all the activities of our members and guests in Assynt. Please use them.

I have been attempting to update my notes on Appin caves as a preliminary to producing a new Caves of Appin publication. Several times I have found references in the log books to caves with no details given. Two examples are Booby Pot (Glen Duror) and First Born Cave (Salachan?). Unless someone can tell me more I shall be forced to ignore both. If you don't record your discoveries and give enough detail then they might just as well never have happened.

There has been much discussion if not argument about submitting entries by email or by handing over loose leaf reports. Binding these into the main log books would cause stress on the binding: rewriting them into it would be a chore. The decision is to collate these into a separate folder with references to them entered in the log book. When the log book is complete and bound then the folder will be bound at the same time perhaps in the same binding. This means that you can produce a report at your leisure (though not, I hope, in too leisurely a fashion) and hand it in on a Tuesday evening. If you live in a remote corner of the globe (eg Livingston or Skye) you can email it.

Repeat visits to popular caves need little more than a date, cave name, list of cavers and a single sentence on what you did. A visit to a less popular or new (for the GSG) cave justifies a longer description of what was done. When a new discovery is made more detail is needed and the discoverer should give descriptions of how to find the cave, what the passages are like and what further work might be necessary. A sketch survey should also be included and photographs would be welcome.

So please do take the effort to record your discoveries and caving activity for the Group's records. It may appear to be a bit of a chore today, but in a few years time when someone (and it may be you!) needs the information you'll be glad it is there.

A final comment is that, thanks to Goon, the GSG's log books are a superb source of data on the Group's explorations. He has produced individual and master indexes which when combined with the Bulletins should allow the complete story of a cave's exploration to be easily found: very necessary if you are trying to write a cave guide. Do please record your work and keep the Group's records up to date and complete.

Ivan


Meghalaya Cave Calendar 2004/05

In the fine tradition of GSG Meghalayan calendars ie just too late - we offer the March 2004 to February 2005 edition. Again in full colour with a total of fourteen photographs it is printed on glossy A4 paper with a wire binding. Copies are 4.00 if collected and 4.50 by post. Send your orders to Ivan along with a cheque made payable to the GSG.


The British Caving Association

The British Caving Association (BCA) sprang into life on the 1st January 2004. The inaugural meeting will held in Alvechurch Baptist Church Hall, Alvechurch on 20th March. All paid-up GSG members are automatically members of the BCA and entitled to attend and vote at BCA meetings. You won't receive publications or qualify for discounted entry to BCA events unless you become an individual member of BCA. The dream of a 'One Stop Shop' for caving is coming closer, but it'll take another year or so for the remaining elements to slot in place. Eventually a single payment to BCA will replace the BCRA, NCA, and regional caving council memberships for the GSG. For this year transitional arrangements are in place. The following information is reprinted from BCA material:-

Following the unexpected withdrawal of the BCRA insurance scheme in November 2003, Nick Williams, Julian Griffiths and David Judson have now successfully negotiated a new scheme with GE Frankona. It can not be emphasised strongly enough how much effort Nick, Julian and David have put into this, and all cavers should be grateful for their commitment.

At Saturdays NCA Council meeting, the following subscription rates and benefits were agreed for BCA membership. Further details can be found on the BCA website: http://www.british-caving.org.uk/ (the Questions and Answers section on Insurance is especially useful). Please note that not all applications forms are yet on the website, but will be soon.

Membership Subscriptions for the British Caving Association
Individual Membership Caver: 28.00 non-Caver: 16.00
Benefits: Insurance, Handbook, Membership Card, Publications, Access (where applicable), Vote
Club Membership: 15.00 plus 100.00 for clubs with property
Benefits: Access (where applicable), Handbook, Membership Card, Publications, Vote
Plus:- Club Member (Caving) 18.00 (non-Caving) 6.00
Benefits: Insurance, Membership Card, Vote
Note:- Member of the Explosive User Group: 50.00 (apply via EUG)
Member of the Cave Diving Group: 25.00 (apply via CDG)
Access Bodies (not Regional Councils) 100.00

A 10.00 publications subscription will obtain BCA publications but no membership rights. Please refer to the BCA website for details on eligibility and conditions imposed by the insurer.


Elphin Caving Centre

A succession of theme evenings has enlivened our winter weekends at the hut. From the Xmas meal in December, through the Scots evening (cullen skink, haggis, cranachan) in January to the Swiss evening (fondue in triplicate) in February all were resounding successes. The Xmas meal saw a record total of 27 sitting down to dine. The workbenches and a sheet of plywood had to be pressed into service as an extra table to accommodate the throng.

From the end of April to the first week of May we will expecting the annual Mendip Invasion to arrive in Assynt. Would all migratory cavers please tell the Hut Warden when they expect to arrive. We do try and keep bunk spaces free for our regulars, but if we don't know who is coming then both the Hut Warden and Treasurer are known to be easily swayed by deposit cheques from other clubs and April and May being pre-midge are very popular months.

If you have difficulty contacting Peter by phone try email or phone Ivan instead. Peter is moving house to Inverness at the end of March and could be of no fixed abode for several weeks.

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 the Hut Warden - Peter Dowswell as soon as possible to check if there will be space.


Hut-building

The conservatory is slowly approaching completion. The major remaining task is laying the floorboards (2nd hand Canadian maple) followed by sanding and varnishing. Ivan has spent several weekends selflessly sawing, routing and nailing the internal woodwork and foregoing the pleasures of icy hours hauling and digging in Rana. The external door has been boarded up to keep it dry while we wait for a suitable time to paint it properly.

There are plans to spruce up the hut this summer. It is showing signs of wear in several areas and many places could do with a fresh coat of paint. If you'd like to help do let the Hut Warden know. Hut fees are cancelled for members working all day on the hut, and by use of travelling expenses and Gift Aid both the GSG and yourself can benefit from Government policy encouraging sports clubs.


Membership News

New Members

Matthew Hutson

New Addresses

Bob Batty, Alice Dowswell, Peter Dowswell, Martin Hayes, Julie Hesketh, Kate Janossy.

Other Changes

Dan Harries, Barry Burn.

East Timor

Deidre Nagle - sent the following email:- 'Just a quick note on what I have been doing caving wise. While living in East Timor and working with local communities I have begun to explore local caves and compile information on various aspects of these caves. Following visits to three areas it is clear that there are lots more caves to find. No information exists to date on the caves in this country and as a result I am intending to put the information together as a guide for the East Timorese people and the caving community at large.

Should anyone want to provide financial support or come over to help with the process I would be more than happy to organise and facilitate a trip.'

Volunteers should email Deidre at:- Deirdre Nagle <deirdrenagle @ hotmail.com>

Kate Janossy - is now back from her work experience in Moshi, South Africa and will be based in Oban for the next six months or so. With her new green 4x4 machine she is keen to join GSG meets. Contact details are in the New Address section above.

Alan (Goon) Jeffreys - is now watching his white blood cell counts climbing back to normal. His increasing feelings of lassitude over the last few years were due to hairy cell leukemia (one of the rarer varieties) and he recently underwent a dose of chemotherapy to knock it back and control it. With his immune system reeling from the effects he picked up an unknown infection and had the pleasure of a week in hospital. He is now back to regular Cambridge visits and visiting mines with that other NHS success Jim Salvona. The prognosis for this illness is good - or as good as you'll get for any other similar ailment. If it does recur then another dose of treatment may be necessary

Thomas Gundacker reports that he was involved in some original exploration in Austria during 2003. During this his group discovered a 163m pitch in one cave. While resurveying another cave and in the process adding another 200m of passage to it they investigated a farmer's tale and found the 700m Barenlucke cave with several ongoing leads. A fuller account will be in the March 2004 Bulletin. Thomas has now moved to London and extends his thanks to all in the GSG for the great time he had in the Group. He writes - 'Seven weekends in Assynt gave me a chance to see what it means to go caving in this country (from helicopter caving to getting totally wet and digging forever?) Don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions about Austria.'

Peter Dowswell - has sold his house in Kirkcaldy and bought a modest 4 bedroom bungalow next to the golf course in Inverness.It does require a spot of restoration, so we may not see too many new projects starting at the hut for a while. He'll leave Kirkcaldy by the end of March just before disappearing on a partial family holiday for a spot of culture in Florence. Moving in date in Inverness has some uncertainty but he should be in by the end of April.


SITUATION VACANT C A V E P E R S O N W A N T E D

Smoo caveman, Colin Coventry, has a position vacant for a keen caveperson to help him run Smoo Cave Tours over this summer. Summer means July and August with possible extensions into June and September. If you would like to spend a few months in Durness then contact Colin and learn more about what is required by the job and what the rewards might be. Colin Coventry - 11 Druimbhlar, Durness, by Lairg, Sutherland


Assynt News

Inchnadamph Hotel - The Inch is back in business with new owners Richard and Jaimie Mckendrick making a good start by reopening the bar. During winter they are leaving the back bar shut and opening up the lounge bar instead. They want to restore some of the old Inch customs such as morning coffees and afternoon teas, intend to operate flexible hours (just ring the bell if you can't see anyone) and are open for accommodation all year.

They are new to the hotel game and have travelled north from Newcastle where Richard was a commuting IT manager (commuting to Holland!) and Jaimie a lab technician. During our last visit Dave Warren took Richard and friends on a tour of ANUSC and we've asked them to quote for the GSG Annual Dinner in October. They brought a pack of dogs (I saw four) and a remote controlled model helicopter with them. I wonder if we can fit a camera for aerial photographs of Assynt?

Elphin Church - Some time ago a dangerous building notice appeared on the Wee Free church opposite the hut. When we woke up one Saturday morning in December it was to find a large yellow machine perched on top of a heap of rubble. We hadn't noticed it when we arrived on the Friday after dark. Now there is nothing left to show that there was once a building there.

At one time we told folk driving north to the hut that it was between the two cattle grids - they've both been removed. Then we could tell them to turn right after the church - it has gone. Now we say it is opposite the phone box. I wonder if it will be next to disappear.


Internet Caving

The GSG site maintained by Andrew Brooks is at:- www.gsg.org.uk

Durness - Every once in a while I surf up to the Durness web site http://www.durness.org/ to see what is happening. There is now a link on the site to http://www.smoocave.org/ which as well as a good overview of the cave gives names to the other smaller caves in the Smoo Geo - Glassknapper's and Antler to the west and Wetweather to the east of Smoo. During my last visit I saw a couple of reports from the Northern Times involving GSG member Colin Coventry, the first by name and the second by place of work.

An entry dated 25 July 2003 reports that Colin Coventry, and Donald Mitchell (Highland Council Countryside Ranger) rescued a peregrine falcon. It had become entangled in wire part-way down the cliff and Colin abseiled down to free it. Close inspection didn't see any damage and it was set free apparently none the worse for the experience.

A report dated 26 September 2003 describes a meeting held on the 15th September of the Smoo Cave Group where they discussed substandard work on the walkways down to the cave. Highland Council were going to inspect the work and get the contractors to correct any faulty workmanship. This meeting also heard that the Smoo cave website was now in place. The latest news on the project to turn Smoo Cave into a show cave to rival White Scar is that they have a plan to investigate sources of funds and want to set up a limited company with charitable status. A meeting scheduled for mid-October was to have John Findlay (the original consultant) and Scottish Natural Heritage present. They then hoped to have funding to appoint a project manager for all the work required. The visitor count for the year was estimated at 45,000, but that was probably higher than normal because of the lunar eclipse and the good weather.

I looked for later information about Smoo but none has appeared yet. I did read about wind farms planned for Sutherland (6th Feb) and the start this January of visits from Malky McKeiltie's Munch Machine. This mobile chippie is scheduled to be in Durness from 5pm every Thursday.

World Depth Record Attempt - USA caver Bill Stone is in the middle of an expedition aiming to set a new world depth record of 2km+ in Cheve Cave, Sierra de Juarez, Mexico. There is a short article online at nationalgeographic.com and you can check on progress at caverace. So far (6th March) this has reports to the middle of February when the 39 strong party were still making their way to the entrance of Cheve (currently 1484m deep). The present depth record holder is Krubera Cave in the Republic of Georgia (1,710 meters, 5610 feet).

WARNING - THIEVES in DERBYSHIRE!

On Saturday and Sunday, 6th and 7th. December, a number of cars parked for caving in the Castleton area were broken into and belongings stolen. Cars parked by cavers at Oxlow, Winnatts Head and P.8 were targetted. The police have made one arrest but there may have been more than one person or group involved in the thefts. PLEASE - be aware of the problem and take precautions, preferably leave someone on guard with the cars. If you are targetted, please report it to the police a.s.a.p. and also keep DCA informed so we can warn others.

Jenny Potts Derbyshire Caving Association Secretary/Treasurer


NAMHO CONFERENCE 2004 'The Extractive Industries of Cumbria'

The 2004 NAMHO Conference is being organised by the Cumbria Amenity Trust Mining History Society from the 24th to 26th July in the old mining village of Coniston, in the Lake District

The Conference will start with a keynote lecture on Friday night: 'Silver; a Contribution to British Mining History' by Peter Claughton Preceded by a buffet super to celebrate NAMHO's 25th year Anniversary. A full programme of field and underground visits, which will suit all interests, levels of fitness and ability are planned plus a field trip by coach on Monday 26th to Threlkeld Mining Museum, Haig Pit & Florence Mine. The lecture programme to be held in the John Ruskin School, Coniston, will be interesting and varied and will include talks on mining, dredging, conservation, lead, silver, coal anhydrite and slate extraction.

More information and booking forms are available from CATMHS Hon. Sec. Sheila Barker, The Rise, Alston, Cumbria. CA9 3DB. NAMHO meetings

There is a 9.00 charge for public liability insurance if you want to take part in the field trips. GSG members with the caving level of BCA insurance do not need to pay this.

NAMHO CONFERENCE 2005 Advance notice

The 2005 NAMHO Conference will be held at Juniper Hall Field Centre, Mickleham, near Dorking, Surrey from 8th - 10th July 2005 Papers are invited on the subject of 'Mines, quarries, tunnels - south-east and beyond.' It is being organised by the Wealden Cave and Mine Society with the assistance of the Chelsea Speleological Society, Kent Underground Research Group, and Subterranea Britannica.

There wi11 be a programme of lectures, and surface and underground trips focusing primarily on medieval and post-medieval underground building-stone quarries, chalk mines and underground quarries, mineral pigment (hearthstone) mines, silver sand (glasshouse sand) mines, and the Wealden ironstone mines and associated remains.

The Weald and its surroundings has also had Neolithic flint mines, fuller's earth mines, Kentish ragstone underground quarries, and coal mines (in east Kent.) One gypsum mine remains operational in the Weald.

Preliminary Conference details will be available from March 2004, please contact the details below to register an interest. Accommodation is limited, so early application is advised. Camping accommodation is available nearby.

For current details see the website: http://namho2005.wcms.org.uk/


Caption Competition?

In December we arrived at the hut a week after a large group from GUPA and AUCC had spent a weekend there. We found one toilet thoroughly choked. Eventually a volunteer was found to do the necessary unblocking. Julian Walford, worried that he might splash his trousers, removed them before setting forth with bucket and soup ladle to remove the obstruction.

The best captions for his photograph will be published in the next Newsletter and there could even be a wee prize if we can decide on a winner. PS:- When we next saw the ladle it was back in use serving up the soup at the Xmas meal that evening. We were assured that it had been cleaned and sterilized in bleach before being returned to service.


Grampian Speleological Group home page