Grampian Speleological Group Newsletter
Number 123, July 2005

Newsletter @

GSG Annual Dinner 2005

This year's Annual Dinner will be held in the Wheatsheaf Inn, Ingleton on Saturday 29th October. As usual this is as Summer Time ends giving all an extra hour of recovery time on the Sunday morning. We will have exclusive use of the conservatory for our meal (L15), but as it holds a maximum of 39 only the first 39 members who confirm their booking with a cheque will be guaranteed a seat there. Any overflow can be accommodated nearby in the dining room. A booking form is enclosed and an early reply with payment is needed to guarantee your place in the conservatory. There is a children's menu. Ask me if you want one.

The Wheatsheaf has nine rooms at L32 per person per night for the double/twin rooms or L45 for single occupancy. If you want to stay there contact them directly at:- The Wheatsheaf Inn, 22 High Street, Ingleton, Carnforth LA6 3AD. Tel: 01524 241275 Email: info @

Other accommodation is available at the various caving huts in the vicinity, at the campsite or further afield at Dalesbridge and Helwith Bridge. I expect we'll be circulating more details later this summer.

Your Meets Secretary, Fiona Ware, is already booking Notts II for the dinner weekend, and is ready to book more caves if you ask her nicely. We'll let you know what is planned once some plans have actually been made!


BCA Membership

GSG members who pay their BCA dues through the GSG and haven't already received their 2005 BCA membership card from me should find it enclosed with this Newsletter. It should have the same membership number as last year and it will expire at the end of December. If this year's policy is repeated in 2006 there will then be a month's grace for you to pay your combined GSG and BCA subscription and for the GSG to forward it to the BCA if your insurance cover is not to lapse.

The GSG as a member of BCA receives one set of BCA periodicals and can vote at General Meetings. If you are a BCA member through the GSG you are covered by the BCA's public liability insurance policy and are entitled to vote at BCA General Meetings, but receive no periodicals.

The GSG is also a member of BCRA and, as you'll read in Trevor's report overleaf, the only route to BCRA membership is now through the BCA. If you want to be a BCRA member then you should become a direct individual member (DIM) of BCA and pay an extra L10 to join the BCRA. For caving level insurance that is a total of L43. This compares with last year when joining the BCA through the GSG was L18 and joining the BCRA separately cost L25 for the same total of L43: if you join the BCA as a DIM you no longer pay anything to the GSG for BCA. Application forms for membership can be found on the BCA web site

BCRA Matters

Since being appointed as the GSG Club representative on BCRA Council in November 2004, I have attended the BCRA SGM on 26 February 2005 at Monyash, BCRA Council meetings on 27 February and 26 June at Great Hucklow, and in addition, the BCA AGM on 12 March at Alvechurch. The BCRA SGM meeting was inquorate, but had some useful discussions that are minuted in draft form in the latest BCRA Newsletter, no. 5, which also contains useful information about BCRA and BCA. The most important recommendations from this meeting were that UK membership of BCRA should be restricted to members of BCA, and that the administration of BCRA and BCA membership subscriptions should be integrated. In fact, this integration was achieved at the start of the year, and the delay this caused in sending out membership cards is being addressed.

The BCA AGM was preceded by the last NCA AGM (at which I was only an observer) and was succeeded after my departure by an NCA SGM which saw the winding up of NCA and the transfer of its functions to BCA. The BCA AGM mainly covered the topics usually dealt with by NCA, and the NCA committee structure is retained. There was also quite a lot of debate about the Direct Individual Member (DIM) and Club Individual Member (CIM) classes of BCA membership, which was left to BCA Council to resolve. The key points are that DIMs and CIMs are all full members of BCA with the right to vote at general meetings, but it is still unclear if Clubs can decline to accept the BCA member benefit of Public Liability insurance for their CIMs (and therefore pay less) if they choose to purchase this insurance elsewhere. (This issue may now have been resolved by BCA Council). There was little or no discussion about BCRA or its future role within BCA at this meeting.

The two BCRA Council meetings considered the practicalities of the transfer of some functions to BCA. These include the full transfer of Travel and PL insurance (which is now complete, leaving BCRA very healthy financially) and BCA Newsletters, Speleology and the Hidden Earth conference, which will retain joint sponsorship for at least a transitional period. We also worked on the "problem" created by BCRA's inheritance of large amounts of speleological archive materials located outside the library, and made progress on the future role of BCRA in promoting cave science, as should become clearer at the next Hidden Earth. I have not seen any topics arising that would be a particular concern for Scotland or GSG, but if any members would like me to raise an issue, please send an email to

One problem that I wanted to see sorted out concerned the possible membership of BCA CIMs within BCRA. The answer is that CIMs who wish to become (or remain) members of BCRA can do this by upgrading to BCA DIMs and applying for (or renewing) BCRA membership, and the BCRA Newsletter no. 5 has been amended on the BCRA website with this clarification. Because such a resolution is likely to be passed at the BCRA AGM on 24 September 2005, renewal of UK "BCRA only" membership after that date will not be possible. I therefore urge all present members of BCRA and all those interested in the support of cave research in its widest sense to join BCRA via the BCA DIM route at the appropriate opportunity.

Trevor Faulkner

You can read BCRA Newsletter 5 PDF

Hydro-fun in the Fannichs

Whilst walking in the Fannichs, Pete Ponter and I recently gained access to the large concrete pipe that brings water down from the Allt a'Mhadaidh to Loch Droma. We did a small through trip and thought that it definitely has potential for more. Water levels were very low, only about 2" of water flowing, but with a little more I suspect that you could speed down it on a mat. There don't seem to be too many potential hazards, the corners and gradient being relatively gradual. Alternatively if you had a low trolley I suspect you could trolley down it. As far as I could see the chances of sudden changes in water levels is fairly unlikely due to the control structures that are in place. Diameter of pipe is probably about 5 feet.

Peter Dowswell

Caving News



David Morrison and Richard Simpson have been busy discovering more caves, so Martin Hayes, John Crae and Ivan joined them in late May for a conducted tour. We started with Cave of the Kings - a fine passage that ends in silt choked sumps - and contoured round the hill to Glasnock Cave and several short caves near it (Wee Beastie, Triangle and Choked Caves). From there more traversing led to several dig sites that need more investigation. John got almost his entire body into Dig 1, but couldn't see anything but boulders blocking the way on. Dig 2 and Dig 3 both have narrow openings down to what seems to be the same stream. The first looks the easier dig as Dig 3 is a hole through solid bedrock. Gravel Coffin Cave is a low wide chamber with what appears to a gravel roof. Not the most confidence inspiring sight!

The final series of discoveries all lie on or near the same stream about 4km from the main road. We started at the top when Richard introduced Martin to Aten's Chamber. Not the largest of entrances as Martin had to reverse out after passing his helmet and lamp through. A large flake just inside blocks a descending passage. This is the upper limit of the next cavity - Heretic's Cave. After David, Richard and Martin slid into the lower entrance I had to dig another couple of inches out to get myself inside. The low crawl soon heightened into a fine narrow vadose canyon. I caught the others up at what they've named Levitation Squeeze. There the canyon narrows and the way on, if you are thin and fit, is a slight widening about a metre and a half from the floor. Martin had already tried and failed so I didn't even attempt it. Evidently the best bit of the cave lies just beyond the squeeze!

Back on the surface we continued downhill to where the whole stream flows through the short Triple Arch Cave. About 140m later we met the small stream from Slab Resurgence. This would need a lot of work to enter and should first be checked that it isn't an oxbow to the main stream. There is a blind pot not far uphill from it. The last cave we all entered was Cave of Queens: another fine section of passage that narrows and lowers to a wet crawl that might be pushed further in really dry weather.

David and Richard are busy writing an article for the GSG Bulletin on their discoveries. In the meantime if you'd like to explore I've listed all the NGRs. If you do plan to go, contact David or Richard first for the latest information.

NG 85318 44064c110mResurgence for Kings
NG 85446 43755161mCave of the Kings
NG 86202 44195246mWee Beastie Cave
NG 86182 44175240mGlasnock Cave
NG 86178 44154245mTriangle and Choked Caves
NG 88258 45055328mSlab Resurgence Pot
NG 87831 44950324mDig 1
NG 87850 44946325mDig 2
NG 87846 44972322mDig 3
NG 88274 45176291mQueens resurgence
NG 87988 45004325mGravel Coffin Cave
NG 88235 44873363mAten's Chamber
NG 88236 44900350mHeretic's Cave
NG 88245 44933350mTriple Arch Cave
NG 88244 45069320mSlab Resurgence
NG 88264 45144300mCave of Queens
NG 88274 45176291mQueens resurgence


Not content with their discoveries in Kishorn, David and Richard have been busy in Skye. In April they explored Meekons Cave (NG 666 194). This is in Jurassic limestone east of the road to Heaste and in dry weather offers about 50m of low passage ending in a sump. Another site nearby ends in a good sized sump. So there are two more possibilities for our diving members.

North of Broadford they dug out another 2m of passage in Scapula Cave to gain a small 1.5 x 1 x 0.6m terminal chamber. About 100m south of Boundary Sink they dug into a 22m through trip - Condyle Cave. David clobbered his elbow on the day they found it! He reports that it has a 'reasonable' squeeze. Fifteen metres south is Upper Condyle Cave. This has 5.5m of passage with another 3m visible but too tight to enter. The squeeze in Shelter cave has been passed by a high level route found by Ritchie. Unfortunately it only extends the cave by 3 or 4m to a dead end.

The Mendip trip to Skye was based in the Torrin Centre which turned into the local polling centre for the day of the general election. Peter Glanvill writes:-

"The Torrin Centre was used as a polling station which meant we had to vacate the living area from 7am to 10 pm. This meant tea and toast in the hallway. Guess who managed to set off the fire alarm at 8 am! It's so sensitive even lightly browned toast triggers it. After several seconds of brain freeze I managed to stop it and then later reset it. The polling station officers didn't bat an eyelid.
"Tav elected to go cave prospecting just outside Heast to the north and south of the road, south of Beinn nan Carn. We split up and Derrick and I got to just below the summit ridge finding several lines of shakeholes plus limestone pavement at the highest point. The problem is that the limestone seems to be sandwiched between layers of other rock although I suppose anything is possible. he bedding seems to be horizontal. The cave we found was quite odd being in the wall of a narrow mini gorge in the limestone. Trevor Knief looked at it and found it to be about 5 metres long. Walk in entrance.
"I have kept GPS coordinates of significant shakeholes plus photos of many of them and a CD is now in the GSG library. If you go there take a crowbar and other digging implements!"


In May the SCRO held a practice in Cave of Broken Expectations. Peter Dennis was wrapped in a stretcher and carried out from the end, down to the stream and up the hillside to the car park. Afterwards most of us indulged in a descent of Claig-ionn. What was interesting was that the last to start walking to the cave arrived first! More familiarisation trips are obviously needed by our newer members. The next day digging in Albion Pot reached an impasse. Poised boulders need some stabilisation before onwards progress can continue. The sink above the end of Draught Caledonian was deepened, but a dye test proved that the stream dribbles out of the roof of Terminal Chamber. We had hoped it would enter a hypothesized upstream continuation. The dig has been 'capped' with old fence posts and rocks while we decide if it is worth continuing.


Trips have included, Jingling Pot and Cave, Aquamole Pot, Simpsons Pot and Caves, Rowten Cave, Yordas cave, Manchester Hole, Goyden Pot, Bar Pot, Ireby Fell Cavern, Ease Gill Caverns, Illusion Pot, Sell Gill Holes and a fine day's SRT training on the Inglesport Climbing Wall. We had exclusive use of the highest tower section of the wall and with Chris Chapman and Mark Brown instructing everyone without leaps and bounds. Meanwhile the 'A' team rigged Sell Gill Holes for all to descend the wet and ascend the dry way on the Sunday. Afterwards as we drove home thunder could be heard in the distance and the North York Moors suffered from flash floods. We also got severely rained upon as we passed the Lake District. Just as well the downpours hadn't happened earlier over Pen-y-ghent.

Vale: Mike "Quackers" Duck

Monday lunchtime in the Hunters' will never be quite the same again. The miserable old git struggling with the Daily Mail crossword has gone. No longer, on a chilly Mendip evening, will the bar ring to the cry of "Shut the fucking door, pratt!" and Assynt is short of one crustacean murderer for every May to eternity.

Many GSG members will have come across Quackers on their travels and, after the initial shock, found him to be a great character. Like your scribe and the late Martin Bishop he was born in 1949 and became a permanent fixture on the Mendip caving scene. He was a competent caver, cave diver, sea diver and excellent climber when the mood took him. He caved with the Westminster S.G., Wessex C.C., Pegasus Club and B.E.C. over the years and in 1986 was dive controller on the Lost Cave of Cheddar project - receiving the dubious honour of getting three 90ft deep sump pools named after him - The Duck Ponds. At Hunters' Lodge Inn Sink, and many other sites dug by the B.E.C., he volunteered as dig engineer and did a sterling job (though his mates soon learnt not to let him "engineer" their vehicles!).

His lifestyle was not the norm and his long-term residence in a yellow ex-GPO van behind the Shepton hut was only slightly more up market than his years dwelling in a tent near the Belfry. I wonder what happened to his collection of anatomical videos?

Quack died of heart problems (whilst worrying about cancer!) on April 9th and a great throng turned up for his funeral and wake. Just to wind up his unearthly spirit Snab composed a farewell song which Roger Dors insisted he sing in the front bar - an unheard of honour. An encore was immediately requested and there were no cries of "They words" from mine host and hostess, in fact I think they joined in. Sung to the tune of "Clip go the Shears Boys" you can also join in and drink to the memory of our mate Quackers (and his amazing lingering farts).


Quackers' Song
By Snab

There's a bloke that isn't here tonight, they call him Michael Duck.
He doesn't like my singing, but I couldn't give a fuck.
He sometimes used to fix my car with a spanner and a wrench
Or a hammer through the windscreen if the car was French.


Fill the tankards, Landlord, serve us up some beer.
We're going to have a few tonight, though Quackers isn't here.
Where he is no body knows but we think we know the score -
he's standing by a great big fire saying "Shut the fucking door!"
The atmosphere round Mendip, it surely must improve.
There's no chance of global warming with less methane on the move.
I've always had a theory that the way a new world starts
Is spontaneous combustion with one of Quackers' farts!
Maybe with this song of mine you'll think that I'm unkind,
just complaining of his swearing or of his foul behind,
but really I'm just thinking back before his dreadful fate
and I'm going to miss his smelly arse 'cause Quackers was a mate.
There was diving, there was caving, there was looking after dogs.
There was farting, there was drinking or just shielding burning logs.
In whatever way you knew him you can hear the bugger now,
He'll be standing somewhere by the fire saying "Stop that fucking row!"

Progress at High Pasture Cave

The archaeological investigation of this cave now has its own web site at Steve Birch posts regular progress reports liberally illustrated with photos of the excavations and of the objects being uncovered. The original intent was to open up the pre-historic entrance into Bone Passage, but that isn't going to happen this year. They have dug down 3m to large granite slabs that were probably the roof of an entrance passage. However the passage underneath appears to have been deliberately filled to the roof. This backfilling has also been found at various Iron Age sites such as souterrains. The roof slabs are overlain by a complex stratigraphy including smeared out layers of clay and several superimposed hearths. This shows that the former natural entrance depression - which incidentally appears much larger than first thought - wasn't filled in a single operation, but has its own complex history.

Hundreds of tons of rock and soil have been moved around to create the present topography and many of them are going to have to be moved again next year to reveal the way into Bone Passage. This year's activities are now concentrated on completing other work around the main excavation and then protecting it from the weather. The new site hut should arrive soon and then lighting and CCTV will be installed via the existing entrance before open days planned for the autumn.

Forthcoming Meets and Events

See the GSG events page for details.

Please send your requests and suggestions for other meets to me. Request permits for caves for the Annual Dinner weekend NOW to get your favourite on the list - I haven't received any suggestions yet and it's first come, first served. I can be contacted at home on 0131 664 3253, or at work on 0131 247 4345 and f.ware @

Fiona Ware - GSG Caving Secretary

The Descent

With the tag-line 'Afraid of the dark? You will be...', the Descent is a cheesetastic caving film. Think 'A Vertical Limit', but underground with a caving party made up entirely of nubile young women. The six set off into a cave system with what appears to be a strange choice of equipment - how often have you been down a cave and wished you'd remembered to pack that ice-axe? - but as a passage is blocked by rockfall things start to go wrong. One of the party sustains an open fracture to their leg (treated by the medical student in the party in a slightly unorthodox fashion), and they soon realise that there is something lurking down their dark 'unexplored' cave.... Sponsored by Petzl (amazing how that logo repels mud, blood and guts) and, this film is billed as horror but in reality is a comedy. A must see for every caver.

Alison Jones

Go to for a short game where you are trapped in the cave with limited lighting (a Zippo lighter!) and have to find your way out. So far I've died horribly every time. For information about the film the IMDB is a good start and has a large collection of viewer's reviews rating the film from 1 out of 10 to 11 out of 10 with an average of 8. For those of an analytic bent look at the comments in the ukCaving forum They are in the "Idle Chat" section under "another caving film 'The Descent'" and a long post by Cap'n Chris on the third page lists the more obvious caving and other mistakes.

A party of eight GSG members went to see it in Edinburgh and agreed with Alison. We also noted that the list of credits included everyone and everything except anyone remotely connected with caving. Guess we shouldn't have been surprised. I did think the cave looked more realistic than most Hollywood creations - though it must have been centrally heated and the rubber straws did wobble.

The Cave

   There are places...
        Man was never meant to go.
                Beneath Heaven lies Hell
                        Beneath Hell lies...
                                THE CAVE

As Bob Jones wrote in an email "Why are caving films like buses? Wait for ages then 2 come along together. If you haven't seen it already, look at TheCave. One to worry the cave divers."

The web site has a short trailer for the film which is being released on August 26th. There is also a game where you attempt to escape from the cave by appropriate use of all the usual caving aids - torch, rope, harness, ascender, rebreather, dynamite and a revolver. Like the game for The Descent there are limited instructions and finding out how to move about the cave is a large part of the test. Will I go and see it? Possibly. After all in the trailer one of the characters is distinctly heard to say "I hate ladders!" so perhaps this film did have a (modern) caving consultant.


BCRC Conference 2005

Four SCRO/GSG members flew down for a long weekend in Mendip to attend the British Cave Rescue Council Conference. This was based in a large marquee on a field at Eastwater farm. The return trip with EasyJet - down Thursday evening, back Monday morning - cost L36. Excellent value.

On Friday, Peter Dennis and Dave Warren enjoyed Hunters Lodge Inn Sink and then Primrose Pot while Goon and I enjoyed the Butcombe in the Hunters. The conference was opened on Friday evening by the local Conservative MEP followed closely by the keynote speaker - half an hour of vintage Goon in his best inimitable form. It was all recorded by the GSG camcorder, a tape is in the library, and now Fraser has returned from South America I'll see if it can be edited onto a DVD.

On Saturday we all distributed ourselves amongst the various activities. I joined the Explosive Users Group in a local quarry to watch the different techniques for turning large boulders into a collection of smaller boulders. Very informative and thanks to Nigel Taylor for selling me some small pyrotechnics that should help us in Rana. Luckily Roger had driven down for the conference as I don't think I'd have been able to take them back on the plane!

The final 'caving' event on Saturday was a rescue race. This involved five of a team of six running an obstacle course built around the Eastwater entrance depression, collecting a carry sheet and rope en route, and using them to parcel up their sixth member who then had to carried back along the course and fed through the obstacles. Because of a lack of SCRO members we joined forces with SUSS to field a combined team comprising Peter Dennis, David Warren, Roger Galloway (SCRO) plus Mark Brown, Annie Audsley and friend Alice (SUSS).

There were three heats and we ran first against the Wessex ladies team. We romped it and lay back to enjoy the other two heats, one of which afforded extra entertainment with a wrestling match in the stream. In the final the three winning teams ran against each other with a slight difference. This time all six members had to complete the course without a casualty which is different to saying that there were no casualties! Again we emerged victorious though extremely smelly which may have had something to do with the herd of cows just upstream of the event. The winners were presented with a BCRC 2005 T-shirt each.

The GSG camcorder was used to record the highlights of the heats and the final, and they are on the tape in the club library. We may show it at the Annual Dinner in October.

Saturday evening ended with the Stomp and a determined attempt to drink the bar dry and chomp our way through two roast pigs. It was noted that as the evening progressed J.Rat joined in the dancing and threw away his walking stick.

Sunday was a quieter day with several of the scheduled talks possibly washed away by the alcoholic haze. A fire engine arrived and chomped scaffolding bars and the conference gradually stuttered to a close. Peter and Goon then went for a quick thrash through GB Cavern. Pete commented that it was his fastest ever trip in GB and Goon commented on the aroma possibly emanating from Peter's caving gear.

In conclusion an excellent and very sociable weekend, though I think I had the best of the Saturday activities. The next visit to Mendip is likely to be for the BCRA Conference in September. Remember to book early to get the best prices if you plan to fly.


Elphin Caving Centre

Plenty of visitors have kept the hut fees rolling in this year and we've invested in new trays and grids for the BBQ to replace those that have now rusted away. Please clean them after use and store them in the shed. Julian is about to replace the old mouldy pillows. We'll probably fit pillow cases to them, but you should bring and fit your own over the top.

Confirmed Taigh nam Famh Bookings

Hut fees are L5.00 per night for non-members and L2.50 for GSG and BEC members. Reduced to L3.00 and L2.00 for children, students, the unemployed and OAPs. Camping is at a reduced rate of L2.00 only when the hut is full. Day fees are L1.00 for members and L2.00 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 (Tel:- 01456 229250, hutbookings @


Prolonged pleas from an ageing Walford led him to take the GSG cheque book into his own hands and buy fan heaters for the showers. They will be fitted before the winter snows appear. Note that adding these does strain our supply up to or beyond its 8kW specification even after generous diversity calculations have been applied. There isn't any danger of tripping one of the breakers or of blowing the main fuse, but I'll need to monitor the supply voltage to check that it doesn't drop too far with everything turned on.

The latest wall decoration in the conservatory has been donated by Fraser Simpson. Presented with it in Meghalaya he could think of no better place to install it than the hut.

I've noticed several items over the last year or two that have needed repair or adjustment - door latches, bolts, handles, showers et cetera. When you see anything that needs attention please tell Peter and me so we can fix it at the first opportunity. We might not notice it ourselves, and then when we do we might not have the right materials to fix it, but have to wait for our next visit. Help us keep the hut in good order by telling us promptly about all breakages.

Scottish Smoking Ban

The bill to ban smoking in enclosed public places has now been passed by the Scottish Parliament and becomes law on 26 March 2006. Unless changes are made it will definitely apply to Taigh nam Famh, and to comply with the law we'll have to ban smoking inside, stick "No Smoking" notices all over the place, develop and implement smoke-free policies, and remove all ashtrays from the building! I suspect we are collectively likely to become criminals as I don't see how a self-catering bothy can be treated in the same way as a city centre bar. Perhaps we'll be forced to have automatic smoke detectors and CCTV connected to Lochinver police station? And if we arrive there and find a fag end inside will we have to report a possible crime to the local constabulary? I suspect the Nelson touch will be much used.

In fact this hurried and badly drafted piece of legislation appears to have even more startling consequences. Because it applies to any enclosed premises being used by a club, if the GSG holds a committee meeting, an AGM or a party in a member's house, then that house falls within the bill's grasp. I wonder if it applies to me now as I type this Newsletter. After all I am using this room for the club's business Must I install No Smoking notices and sling out all my ashtrays even if none of them ever hold any ash?

Penalties are 200 pounds if we allow someone to smoke in the hut and 50 pounds for the person caught smoking. But if I catch you I can do you a special deal!!!

I have sent several questions to the Scottish Executive so that they can tell me if my analysis of the bill is correct. I'll let you know their response in the next Newsletter, assuming they reply in time.


If you want more information you can read the bill at:- PDF

For a list of questions and answers on the new law see:- ClearingTheAir

Membership News

We have gained some more new and returning members:-

Iain Greig - is an Engineering turned Geology student at Aberdeen University and the current Club Captain, Equipment Officer and Webmaster of AUPCC He is currently in Durness helping Colin Coventry ferry tourists around in Smoo Cave. He has a special interest in sea caves and has recorded his work on the Arbroath caves on a web site

Ed Mason - started caving in his early teens using a pushbike to go to Derbyshire. He joined the North Midlands Group of the B.S.A. in 1962 and cut his caving teeth with the likes of P.B.Smith (Master Caver), Harold Lord, Garry Kitchen, Ken Pearce etc. In 1968 he decided to earn a living from his hobby and spent 7 years as a hard rock miner at Ladywash mine in Eyam. He now runs his own radio, TV, & electronics business with time spent designing and building caving gadgets. He has caved in France(Berger) and Ukraine.

Mark Brown - is a lapsed rather than a new member and has rejoined after a gap of two years. He is expert in rope access and helped instruct at our recent SRT training weekend. He's caved in Meghalaya, joined us on several Yorkshire meets and was part of the winning team in the 2005 BCRC Rescue Race.

New Members

Iain Greig, Edwin [Ed] Mason, Mark Brown

New Addresses

Russell Salisbury, Richard Simpson, Dan Harries & Fiona Ware

Other changes

Hiba Aboulhosn, Tel mobile. Paul Archibald, Tel mobile. John Heathcote, email. George Kennedy, Tel mobile.

Dan Harries and Fiona Ware - have just bought a house in Gilmerton. Fiona is delighted with the discovery of "a subterranean maze of brickwork and rubble" under their floors entered through a cupboard in the living room. Perhaps we'll see it on the next meets list.


Through the medium of this newsletter I would like to express publicly my sincere thanks to all those who over the years have donated items for our library, whether it be foreign publications acquired on holiday, historical items photo-copied from rare journals or simply new work which I have not been aware of. This also applies to newspaper items which, while they do not appear in library additions, are still dutifully filed away. Invidious though it may be, I must single out Milche in particular who scrupulously forwards copies of the most obscure and informative historical material on a regular basis. Others who deserve a mention are Jim Salvona and John Crae.

In the same vein, I have received several donations in response to my call for archive photographs, in particular from former members Gordon Henderson (Secretary in the 1960s), Sam Anderson (1963-4) and most recently from Chic Calder (active in the 1970s and 80s) who supplied not only 'historical' views of the old Knockan hut but 14 duplicate slides of the Napier expedition to Sar-ab Cave in Iran as well. This is an encouraging start but I trust the inward flow will continue before enterprising mothers or wives consign to the dustbin apparently worthless material which is of value to us. Of course current photographs are also valuable, and CD collections have been generously donated by Peter Glanvill, Ivan Young, Simon Brooks and Peter Ireson, to name only a few.

We have a library of enviable size which is being used regularly by researchers from outwith the club as well as by members and in trusting that donations will continue to appear, could I urge that all abstracts are properly identified with name of publication, volume or issue number, date and page numbers (if appropriate).


40 Years of Growth!

The two pictures below show how useful a complete and accurately described record can be. The left hand picture, taken by Sam Anderson, is of a youthful Goon hauling tackle (or is he lifelining?) at Jingling Pot in 1964. The right hand picture was taken 40 years later last December as Roger Galloway is about to descend using SRT and not ladders. The tree trunks are much larger as is that handy twig Goon used to redirect the rope.

Emergency phone numbers (found on the web)

East Anglian Ambulance Service have launched a national "In Case of Emergency (ICE)" campaign with the support of Falklands war hero Simon Weston and in association with Vodafone's annual life savers award. The idea is that you store the word "ICE" in your mobile phone address book, and against it enter the number of the person you would want to be contacted "In Case of Emergency". In an emergency situation ambulance and hospital staff will then be able to quickly find out who your next of kin are and be able to contact them. It's so simple that everyone can do it. Please do. Please will you also forward this to everybody in your address book, it won't take too many 'forwards' before everybody will know about this. It really could save your life. For more than one contact name use ICE1, ICE2, ICE3

Young Street has Changed Direction

Next time you come to the Cambridge Bar for Tuesday evening be warned. One part of the master plan to remove all non-public transport from Princes Street has been to reverse the flow in Young Street. It is still one-way, but from west to east instead of east to west.

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

The Visit Scotland web site includes caving and potholing in its list of earth sports and a link to the GSG and BCA web sites. Two GSG members - Dave Warren and Tim Lawson star in the photos photos

Gair Dunlop told me of a site where you can read and download the complete text for many books. You won't find anything recent as they have to be old enough to be out of copyright, but Jules Verne, Dickens, Robert Louis Stevenson, and HG Wells are all there. One of the very long list that might be of interest is Castles and Cave Dwellings of Europe by Sabine Baring-Gould. Chapter II (Modern Troglodytes) includes an account by Sir Arthur Mitchell of four families totalling 24 people living in the 'great cave at the south side of Wick Bay' in 1866. Caves of Scotland places the cave at ND 370 500 but has no information about it. There are several more references to Scotland in later chapters.

There were reports on TV recently about vaults near Dunbar harbour. Read the full account and then an 18 page report PDF including plans and photographs.

The site for High Pasture Cave has already been mentioned, but there is an added attraction. There is a virtual cave tour and you can (with a little bit of luck) make your way all the way to the terminal chamber meeting some of your GSG friends en route,

Assynt News

Expedition to Staffa

With only a few weeks to go, things are coming together on the planning of the GSG Expedition to Staffa. We have unfortunately have seen Dan Harries and Andy Peggie pull out due to pressure of other work (it's a hard life when one has to make a decision between Staffa and the Galapagos Islands!). However, we have a team of 8 strong, being Tony Boycott, Duncan Butler, John Crae, Vern Freeman, Chris Howes & Judith Calford, Tony Jarrat and myself getting ready to depart on 18 August for the five day trip to Staffa. The objectives of the expedition are to survey Fingal's, Clamshell, MacKinnon's, Cormorants and Goat Caves plus Gunnar Mor using an electronic distance measuring device (EDM) to a high level, photograph all caves in detail, use the EDM to record Cartesian coordinates of columnar edges and corners within Fingal's Cave and possibly Clamshell Cave, and record data of the exposed columnar basalt pavement by Fingal's Cave. We also hope to record by photograph samples of any sea life found present within the caves.

We are now confident of getting an EDM, thanks in no small part to Duncan's work in trawling round the suppliers seeking support. At around L15,000, the EDM is not the piece of kit you want to lose! I must also record my thanks for Andy's help in persuading another supplier to hire us one if Duncan's work came to naught. The use of an EDM is as they say in the USA, mission critical.

Our intention to produce at least two reports, the major one being the baseline survey of the caves similar to that produced by Ivan, Pete and Tim for Assynt. The second report will be on column details and will look at two separate topics.

The first is to test a hypothesis that Fingal's Cave is formed along a fault in that it is claimed that the column edges on either side of the cave are not parallel. Measurements will be taken using the EDM of the location of column edges. These measurements will be subjected to statistical analyses to determine if the hypothesis is correct. (It is also intended to closely examine the end of the cave for signs of a fault.) The second topic relates to how columnar basalt forms. I have now made contact with two academics working in this field and who have expressed interest in the work. Apparently no one has recorded Staffa's columnar cross sections before, let alone the frequency of types of polygons present for Staffa lava; a notable omission from the literature. The more so, when one realises that similar data from the Giant's Causeway was recorded in 1875 and is still being quoted as the most comprehensive data set!

Other articles will be produced including the GSG Bulletin presenting the survey data.

Bob Mehew

PS any one familiar with post graduate level non-linear elastic theory?

Grampian Speleological Group home page