Grampian Speleological Group Newsletter
Number 121, December 2004

GSG Annual Subscription 2005

We heard in late December that the BCA annual subscriptions for CIMs (Club Individual Members) are unchanged from last year - see the email from Nick Williams reproduced below. There is also welcome news to members of multiple clubs. They need only pay the BCA subscription to one of them: for 2004 they had to pay the 6 non-caving subscription to all their extra clubs.

Now that we know the BCA component, the GSG committee has decided that GSG subscriptions will be unchanged for 2005. This newsletter warns those with standing orders to change them to the correct amount, allows those with Internet banking to make the payment direct into the GSG's account, and reminds everyone else that payment is due now, and BCA is only giving you one month's grace to get the cash via me to them. So make your first New Year Resolution to send Ivan a cheque. Make it payable to "GSG" and sent it to me at 45 Maitland Road, Kirkliston, West Lothian, EH29 9AP.

Members who do not pay by the end of January will find their membership of the BCA has lapsed and they will therefore be uninsured. The GSG constitution does allow until the end of March for its members to pay, but if you want uninterrupted access to caves nation-wide you shouldn't wait till then to renew your membership.

GSG Subscriptions for 2005

The number of combinations of BCA and GSG membership has grown. If you already have BCA membership direct, with another club, or with CDG or EUG you do not pay BCA again.

Class of GSG Membership BCA Public Liability Insurance
Caving with GSG Non-caving with GSG With another club or BCA
Full Members 30 / 24 18 / 12 12 / 6
Joint Members both with the same insurance 50 / 43 16 / 19 14 / 7
Joint Members one with BCA membership already 32 / 25 20 / 13  
Joint Members one caving & one non-caving with GSG   38 / 31  
Life Members 18 6 0

The lower amount is for members who are students in full-time education, unemployed or over 65 years old. For joint members to qualify for the deduction both must satisfy a criterion.

NOTE:- Please let me know your BCA membership number if you are claiming exemption from the BCA membership fee. This helps BCA identify you in their records.

Please ensure that you clearly identify yourself as the person making the payment when you set it up, and send me an email so that I can check that it arrives. Remember to include your BCA number if claiming exemption from the BCA component.


From Nick Williams - 13th December 2004

Firstly, my apologies for the delay in letting you know what will be happening with the scheme in 2005. We only received notification from the broker late last week that they will be able to offer us terms, and we still do not have this in writing.

Subject to this, however, I am pleased to confirm that the rates for insurance for 2005 will remain unchanged from 2004. The only significant difference in the scheme is that we will be doing away with the non-caver payment for people who are members of more than one club, so each individual will pay into the scheme only once.

I will also say that everyone who is a member of the scheme on 31 December 2004 will continue to be considered as a member until at least the end of January 2005. Obviously, we would like to recover the money for the policy as soon as we can, but there is no need for anyone to worry that they will be uninsured for a period until we receive their money so long as they commit to the scheme and we receive a payment by the end of January.

Full details and revised information about the scheme will be posted on the BCA web site on the near future. It is likely to be the New Year before we can properly revise all of the FAQ's and forms, but we will be working on this as quickly as possible now we know the financial details.

Regards and Seasons Greetings to you all.


36th GSG Annual Dinner, Inchnadamph Hotel, 30 October 2004

As we drove up through the glorious autumn colours towards Sutherland, the question was, would the new owners of the Inchnadamph come up to the standards of their predecessors who had hosted the annual GSG dinner. And did they know what they were letting themselves in for?! Our fears started to evaporate the night before the dinner, when a roaring fire was blazing in the bar, and An Teallach was on tap. Good omens.

This was a dinner with many records - the highest ever number of guests for many years at 62, old friends who hadn't been seen at dinners for some 15 years (Milch and Kirsty - great to meet you), the furthest travelled to a dinner by Dave Robinson from Munich (or does anyone know better?), the most caving nuns we've ever had at a dinner (although we'd never seen so many with beards and trainers - the theme was the Sound of Music!) and the indomitable Jim Salvona winning the Golden Gnome .... again....!

Jim - we missed you at the dinner, but understand Goon presented you with the Gnome at the Cambridge the following week with full ceremony. [Well he slapped it on the table between the beer glasses & gave JS a copy of the ode ....... if that can be classed 'full ceremony' (DG)].

After all were well-fed and watered with local produce (so that's what they do with all those roaring stags), Goon welcomed all to the event, particularly those who'd travelled far. Milch was asked to give the toast to missing friends - as he'd been missing quite a while himself, though we gather he's toasted us oft from his second home in the Hunters, where he now resides Monday to Friday while claiming to work in Bristol. Reckon it beats the Travelodge. It was then Goon's turn to announce Jim as the 2004 winner of the Golden Gnome. He'd even plagiarized a Burn's poem for the occasion. (O, Wert Thou In The Cauld Blast)

And so to the bar to continue partaking of the amber nectar. But not for long, as there was a local ceilidh band warming up, just waiting for us to kick off our heels and dance. Slowly the Austrian Countess, the hausfrau in her dirndl, the mountain sheep (or was it goat?), and the convent of nuns took to the dance floor, gently encouraged (no, not bullied!) by me and John Crowsley [the petrol station owner from Scourie]. I did get somewhat confused in Strip the Willow as to whether I was dancing with a male or female nun, but the full round of ceilidh dances were explored. Drastic measures were needed to keep people on the dance floor: apologies Hiba - that's the first time I've ever heard of a Lebanese barn dance too.

So, all in all, an excellent time was had by all. As most of us parted the next day we all concluded it had been a memorable dinner and we look forward to the next. The question is, will the harmonium get to next year's dinner?

Anne Grindley

Lines for a Walking Encyclopaedia

Oh wert thou in the cauld blast
On yonder lea, on yonder lea.
Thy plaidie to the angry airt
As rock shelters sought out thee?

Or did the call of caverns breaths
Around thee blaw, around thee blaw?
Enticing ye into the depths,
Caves, quarries, mines an' a'.

Oh when ye're in the wildest waste
Sae black and bare, sae black and bare.
Down hidden rivers thou would'st haste,
Venturing where no other dare.

Were I the monarch of the glen,
Of every cave in fair Alba,
My throne tae ye I'd yield then
For you are truly - King Salvona.

Penned on the occasion of Jim Salvona being awarded the Grampian Speleological Group's Golden Gnome Award 2004 for services to Scottish speleology.

Dinner 2005

The 2004 dinner is now history and the decision process has started for next Year's location. This will be decided by vote at the AGM early next year and the nominated areas will appear on the AGM notice for postal and email voting.

Usually the December Newsletter is published in time for it to request nominations. This year it has been done by email instead. Nominations received before the AGM notice is printed will be included, so if you are reading this by email it may not be too late. Suggested areas should contain caves, and if a venue and organiser are also volunteered then that can only help sway the electorate.

Caving News



George Kennedy reported in November that he was going to check out the Fairy Cave on the island of Luing. This is a few miles south of Oban and lies between the mainland and Jura. Here is his account:-

"There is a legend that the cave has a link stretching to the Isle of Mull, and that years ago a piper and his terrier went into the cave to see if this was true. Something mysterious happened to the piper and his faithful terrier. Only the Terrier returned alive with not a hair on its body! Of the piper nobody knows what fate befell him, for he was never seen again."

"I came back unharmed from the Fairy Cave with Speedy (George's terrier) unsinged! I found the cave easily, only a ten minute walk from the ferry. The cave is not a sea cave as it lies up on the hillside well away from the sea. It appears to me to be made up of a mixture of slate and limestone, quite unlike any of the caves in Appin. A low filthy crawl amongst the remains of dead sheep for two metres took me into a wee chamber big enough to stand in. Two meters ahead the chamber ended with the way on looking like a tight descent through a boulder ruckle. (I was forced to leave this for another day due to my lamps dimming noticeably and a lack of spare batteries). Back at the start of the entrance chamber an opening to my right took me in to a much bigger chamber with some of the most amazing formations I have seen yet on the ceiling of the chamber and the walls which also had a lot of flowstone seeping from them. There is a hole in the right hand wall of this chamber a metre off the floor which I had to leave for another day, and what looks like a choked off route in the floor. A bit of clearing may reveal more. The only artefacts I found were the remains of a dead tup curled up in a wee hollow and what I think might be very old bones of a deer. I am no archaeologist but the bones did look what you might see from a Bronze Age dig and quite fragile to touch. I left them as I found them in case they could be of some interest."

"All in all it was a good day and Speedy got off lightly after a scrap with an otter that came up from the beach on our way back home! A return trip is on the cards with camera and spare batteries, and if anybody would like to come over for further searching just get in touch with me and a trip could be arranged"

George Kennedy


Two members of the Kintail Mountain Rescue Team have become keen cavers - we almost met them in Skye during the club meet in September - and have been exploring the limestones in 'their' patch. A trip to Kishorn found a new cave on the 31st October that has been named Uamh an Righ (Caves of Kings, NGR NG 8544 4375). The discoverers were David Morrison and Richard Simpson. After digging into it they partially explored it before leaving as it was late in the day. They returned a week later reinforced by Steve Birch who was mightily impressed with their find. The first section of descending passage - The Grand Gallery - is described by Steve as "an impressive place with some of the largest passage I have seen in this part of Scotland". This visit found more passage and produced a grade 2 survey. The cave is about 12m deep with 54m of passages ending in sumps. The likely resurgence is 350+ metres away to the NW. Since it is about 35m lower than the present end of the cave, the sediment banks at the sump would be worth a dig in dry conditions. Certainly the water runs away quite freely. A full article and survey will appear in the March 2005 Bulletin.


Bridge Tolls removed

The Skye Bridge tolls are now a memory. The Scottish Executive spent 27,000,000 to buy the bridge back from the developers and from the 21st December tolls stopped. Folk with unused tickets will be able to claim their money back. There will be an announcement on the Skye Bridge website ( in the next month about the procedure. This is expected to involve sending unused tickets to a PO box in Edinburgh. Don't take them back to the bridge.



John Crae had been asked by a colleague if we knew anything about a slate quarry with tunnels in Perthshire. We didn't, so John, Jim Salvona, Peter Ireson and I went to Craiglea Quarry in October. The quarry, abandoned in the early 1900s, has two tunnels that appear to have been driven for access and drainage. As the workings extended downwards a tunnel would have been a simpler and cheaper option than removing the face of the hill or using pumps to keep the hole drained. They are about two metres wide and high so are larger than required for drainage alone and must have been used to provide access and extract the slate. The lower tunnel is by far the longer and is estimated to be about 180m long of which 150m is accessible before the water level rises to about a metre. A full report will appear in the GSG Bulletin.


Jim Salvona and Dick Grindley attempted a year or so ago to dig their way into an old coal mine near the shore at Gullane. A return trip this October by Jim, Goon and Ivan got a bit further, but found the amount of work required would be too great considering the site is within a few yards of one of the tees on the golf course.

World Record Depth - first 2km deep cave!

In the last Newsletter we reported that Krubera Cave in the Western Caucasus had been pushed to 1823m. In October a Ukrainian expedition continued onwards and downwards to achieve a surveyed depth of 2080m. The dry silt-choked terminal chamber is 170m above sea level, and with the risings at 1m and 50m altitudes and many unexplored leads even more depth is possible.


I have begun a project to collect together as complete an archive of club photographs as possible, with an intention to produce an illustrated history of the Group for 2011 (50th anniversary).

With this in mind, I make an appeal to ALL members - present and past (if contactable) - to either (1) scan their pictures onto a CD for the library, cost of disc to be reimbursed, or (2) entrust prints/slides to me for scanning and return. I am particularly interested in the period from 1969 to 1980 when, my own camera having been broken at Fastcastle, I fell out of the habit of recording activities.

Although I look forward to seeing pictures of underground scenery, I am principally hoping to obtain photographs of members (identified please from left to right) on dated prints and this will include surface shots such as changing, digging or annual dinner events.

Pictures are worth any number of words, as a recent Craven Pothole Club anniversary book has ably demonstrated, so I urge you to participate - and indeed, to expand your picture-taking activities in the future.

Alan L. Jeffreys

Trevor Faulkner elected to BCRA Council

GSG member Trevor Faulkner heard the pleas from the BCRA for more cavers to take part in the running of their chosen sport. With the GSG's support he was elected to the BCRA Council on the 21st November as a Club representative. Trevor doesn't know all that this will involve, but he is ready to represent the GSG especially on the evolving BCRA / BCA relationship and impending merger.

Christmas (Late!) Stocking Filler - Waterproof 12-LED Head-torch

Many headtorches have just a few LEDs maybe 3 or 5 and use a dropper resistor to determine the drive current. This:

Some LED head-torch units are just expensive. This torch:

Cost is about 10.00 delivered one-off (with alkaline batteries).

If the club wants a bulk order I can get 10 for a bit less. It depends on VAT & duty. If you are interested my contact details are:- Tel home:- 01847 890658, email:- jdwalford #

Julian Walford

Mendip 2005 Migration in Skye

The Wessex have booked the Torrin Centre for the first week in May (covers the English May Bank Holiday) although we have to be out on the Friday. This is 30th April to 6th May. I have met the guy who runs the dive centre on Skye and if there are enough interested divers I could then do some positive booking for a boat trip or two. Interested members should contact me and Dave Meredith of the Wessex, who booked the centre. Dave's email is melndave26 #, My contact details are tel home:-01460 64262, email:- PGanv #

Peter Glanvill

News from Meghalaya

First adventure award for Meghalayan - The Shillong Times, 17/9/2004

"Shillong: Brian Dermot Kharpran Daly, a pioneer in cave exploration in the state and General Secretary of the Meghalaya Adventurers' Association will be awarded the Tenzing Norgay Adventure Award 2002 in New Delhi on September 21.The award to be presented at the Rashtrapati Bhawan, consists of a cash prize of Rs 300,000, a bronze statuette, a scroll of honour, and woolen blazer with silken tie. This is the first time that a person from Meghalaya is receiving the award. Mr Daly's name was notified for the award by the Union Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs, under the recommendation of the Sports and Youth Affairs Department. Mr Daly has been a pioneer in cave exploration in the State and had led 15 international cave explorations consisting of cavers from the United Kingdom, Germany, Ireland, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium and the USA."

Meghalayan gets adventure award - The Shillong Times, 22/9/2004

"New Delhi: The mysterious caves of Meghalaya explored by award winning adventurist Brian Dermot Kharpran Daly, has attracted thousands from home and abroad for decades. But the large scale limestone mining and coal mining going in various parts of the state is a major threat to such unique caves. Such unmindful mining only weakens the geophysical structure of the adjoining areas and may ultimately result in caving in of the caves, Mr Daly who Tuesday received the prestigious Tenzing Norgay National Adventure Awards - 2002 from none other than President Dr A P J Abdul Kalam at the high domed Ashoka Hall said. "The caves are basically made of limestone," Mr Daly said adding if the same is mined without mapping for the caves, the nature's mystery is gone for ever. Large scale mining is taking place for limestone in Meghalaya for cement production within the country as well as neighboring Bangladesh. But such mining is a threat to the caves, Mr Daly told The Shillong Times after the ceremony. The citation for Mr Daly said that with pioneering work in the field of speleology, he has put Meghalaya on the world map as one of the greatest caving regions in the world."

Congratulations from the GSG to Brian on the award. He richly deserves it for the enormous volume of work he does every year to make the annual expeditions so successful.

School Discipline in Bangladesh

The same 17th September issue of the Shillong Times reports an interesting disciplinary technique used by a teacher in Bangladesh: He "cut off the ears of 17 children with a pair of scissors because they were not reading their textbooks loudly." He was beaten up by irate parents, rescued, sent to hospital and eventually sacked.

Forthcoming Meets and Events

The Swaledale meet will take place during the summer - details to follow.

Kate Janossy will organise a long weekend or week of caving in Hungary during the second half of 2005 if there is enough interest from GSG members - please let Kate know if you would like to take part. Roger Galloway is organising a caving trip to Poland for later in the year - more details to follow.

Please send your requests and suggestions for other meets to me. I would like to apply for Yorkshire permits for autumn/winter 2005 soon - I know lots of you have wish-lists so please let me know what they are NOW (don't forget to include possible Sunday trips). I can be contacted at home on 0131 667 3698, or at work on 0131 247 4345 and f.ware #

Fiona Ware - GSG Caving Secretary

GSG in Gaelic

A note from Dick that explains what has appeared on the cover of the 2004 GSG Bulletins.


In view of our acknowledged position as the leading Scottish speleological organisation I assume the GSG intends complying with the proposed future legislation requiring all Scottish public bodies to have a declared Gaelic Language Policy. Accordingly you will undoubtedly be please to learn that I am prepared to offer my services as a Gaelic consultant to the Group at highly competitive, market compatible, rates.

Well, we are open to the public & most of us have bodies (some of us more so than others ..... !!).

Slightly more seriously can I suggest possibly publishing the Gaelic'ised version of GSG below in the next Newsletter/Bulletin. Up until now there do not appear to be any words for speleology or speleological in the Gaelic so I've created some ..... and the first person into print usually sets the standard.
speleology uamh-eolas (cave-knowledge)
(pronounced oo-a yolus)
speleological uamh-eolasach (of cave-knowledge)
(pronounced oo-a yolus-ach)

Which, of course, gives: Comhairle Uamh-eolasach na Monadh Liath (pronounced co-urlu oo-a yolus-ach na monagh lyee-u) provided you're not too particular about which part of the Grampians are actually being referred to.

Well I've got to be doing something during gin production runs in the garage !!

Dick Grindley - October 2003

Elphin Caving Centre

There have been two more Elphin Evenings since the Annual Dinner. The first in November saw 14 members and friends around the new table in the conservatory for an Italian meal. The second was the Xmas dinner on the 18th December. Proximity to the 25th and freezing weather kept attendance down to 10. However all enjoyed another one of Peter's over the top meals with seconds for those that could still move. And all for 6! There were even some crackers left behind from the GUPA/AUPCC meal the previous weekend. Excellent.


The kitchen floor was to be completely repainted one Sunday afternoon, but then Dave Warren discovered some guests were staying on till Monday. He did do most of it, but had to leave strips unpainted so that the sink, fridge and cooker could be used without the user sticking to the floor. The paint takes up to week to dry so it will be done when we can guarantee the hut will be unused for at least several days.

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, the 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 (01456 229250, hutbookings #

No Smoking in the Hut?

The Scottish Executive's anti-smoking Bill will ban smoking in certain wholly enclosed public spaces. Since Taigh nam Famh is open to the public it would appear to be included. In fact since the bill is intended to cover private clubs it would apply even if we restricted access to GSG members only. A quick read of the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) briefing on the proposed bill reveals nothing that would exclude caving and climbing huts from the ban -

The bill proposes fines of up to 1000 for people smoking in no-smoking premises, and fines up to 2500 for the managers of those premises if they allow smoking to take place. There are also fines of up to 1000 if warning notices are not displayed inside and outside the no-smoking premises.

If Taigh nan Famh is still covered by the legislation when it becomes law it is going to present some interesting challenges. I doubt that Lochinver or Ullapool police would welcome callouts every time we found someone smoking in the hut, or if we arrived on a Friday evening, found cigarette ash on the table and reported a crime!

There is provision under the bill for exemptions to be made for certain types of premises. We are contacting our local MP (Jamie Stone for Sutherland) to make him aware of our concerns and propose that self-catering accommodation should be exempt.

Tuesday Night Venue

Despite several nights of intensive research by dedicated GSG members we have yet to find an ideal replacement for the Cambridge as our regular Tuesday meeting place. We shall persevere, however hard it might be to drag ourselves "from pub to pub", as the song goes.

Bat Logo

In the October 2004 GSG Bulletin Editorial, Goon commented that one of the reasons for choosing the club's name was that "GSG makes for a balanced monogram that I then hoped could be drawn in a bat shape (never happened)".

Catherine Jones has risen to the challenge and produced a couple of quick sketches for Goon and the GSG to peruse. She writes "I was going to put a caving lamp on the bat, but it would be too complicated (bats are blind anyway so it would not help a bat in a cave much)."

Do any other members think that they can do better than Catherine? I'll publish all reasonable attempts that come my way in the GSG Newsletter.

Membership News

Welcome to new members:- Ross Davidson, Mark Lonnan

New Addresses:- Martyn Elwell

Other Changes:- Martin Hayes, Tel mobile

Ex-member Thomas Gundacker is staying in touch:-

Nice to hear from the GSG. A quick update on my caving activities:

Since my move to London last February, I didn't make it to Scotland, but at least to Wales. Did a through trip of OFD (very impressive - see the virtual trip through the cave on ) and visited the babysitter dig - the winch they have there would be helpful for Rana hole :)

Had several trips to Austrian caves, in September we tried to get a bit further in the Baerenlucke - a >700m cave discovered 2 years ago - we tried to pump out a sump, but didn't expect it to be so big - several meters below the initial water level, the passage becomes almost horizontal, but then we'd need the pump again - but the fire hose was too short :) see photos at

Last weekend I went to Slovenia - did the tourist trip through Postojna jama and a couple of smaller caves in the area - definitely worth a short trip! (Slovenian caving association)

Hope everyone is doing fine!


Internet Caving

The GSG site maintained by Andrew Brooks is at:-

Other Scottish caving clubs:-

Aberdeen University Potholing and Caving Club

Glasgow University Potholing Association

Thrupe Swallet Dig

Visit this site even if only to watch the bats chase your cursor about the page. It contains a detailed photo log of the progress of this, the fourth dig in the swallet. The first started in 1936 so Rana has a long way to go to beat that!

Assynt News

Grampian Speleological Group home page