Grampian Speleological Group Newsletter
Number 125, January 2006

Newsletter @

Annual Dinner 2005

The 2005 GSG Annual Dinner was held in The Wheatsheaf Inn, Ingleton on Saturday 29th October attended by 49 members and guests. We filled the conservatory at the front of the building and overflowed into the main dining room. After a fine three course meal (3.5 for Paul whose unexpected movement led to some of Debbie's salmon sliding down his back) there were the usual speeches followed by presentation of the Golden Gnome.

The GG recipient was Simon Brooks. He was absent in Ireland attending some speleological function along with several other GSG members, so the Gnome was accepted on his behalf by Mark Brown after Goon had recited a suitably crafted Gnome Ode.


When it comes to water
I really think we oughta
Reflect on what it does in caves
By giving us no quarter.

It fills our passages with goo;
It floods them to the ceiling too.
And at such sumps we stymied are.
Nothing left for us to do

Enter a human tadpole.
New horizons his goal.
Which down in Claonaite he finds
Beyond a watery hole.

In far off India
Where caves much bigger are,
He curries favour with the press
Promoting Meghalaya.

He's travelled near and far
In most of Asia.
And pals he's made near Pakistan
It's said, with Al Quaeda.

His work for GSG
Pursued assiduously,
Has left us lots of cave: no plans!
It's been surveyed, says he.

Where-ever he may roam
To make some cave his home
This poem honours Simon Brooks
He's won the Golden Gnome!

Alan Jeffreys

The evening's entertainment continued with a showing of Fraser Simpson's latest Meghalaya video - now available on DVD. Next came a showing of the speech made by Goon at the BCRC conference in Priddy in June. After comments that some folk had had difficulty hearing the first video the volume was cranked up and everyone through in the main dining room fell silent to listen as Goon explained that he was not the most rescued man in Britain. He'd just experienced more incidents than most!

The underground activities of the weekend included trips into Kingsdale Master Cave, Ease Gill Caverns, the far reaches of White Scar cave and a wet Notts II on Sunday.

A most enjoyable weekend with a better than expected attendance for a Yorkshire dinner. All we need now is to decide where the 2006 dinner should be held and who is volunteering to organise it???

Annual Dinner 2006

The voting slip for this year's annual dinner is included with the AGM notice that accompanies this Newsletter. If you are not coming to the AGM you can still vote. Fill in the form and post or hand it to a committee member. You can also email your choice to Elizabeth.

This year's choices are:- Assynt, Skye, Derbyshire and South Wales.

If you know of a suitable venue in any of these areas and/or would like to help organise the dinner please let us know.

2006 AGM

The 2006 GSG AGM will be held in Elizabeth and Derek's house in Winchburgh on Saturday 28 January 2006 starting at 10:30 am. We need 10% of the membership there to be quorate, so if you can attend please do so and tell Elizabeth in advance.

Resolutions other than those affecting the constitution may be accepted by the Chairman at the meeting. If you want to propose a resolution or there are issues you want to raise at the AGM please let Elizabeth know in advance of the meeting.

GSG Annual Subscription 2006

The BCA told us in late December of their subscription rates for 2006. The welcome news is that they are less than for the previous two years at £15.00 and £5.00 for caving and non-caving subscriptions, instead of £18.00 and £6.00. The rates are driven by the premium for the public liability insurance which only becomes known very late in the year. It is a major annoyance to me that insurance brokers are so tardy producing a quote, as it always happens when it is just too late for members to change their standing orders. It also translates into even more delay by the time I am able to inform the non-emailable part of the GSG membership by Newsletter. But I do have a plan!

With the BCA subscription known, the GSG committee decided that the GSG part of the subscription remains the same for 2006 at L12 for a full member and L14 for joint members. If you get your BCA membership via the GSG, the overall cost to you will therefore reduce.

This year BCA have already sent me membership cards for all existing members assuming they renew with the same status as 2005. This will avoid the excessively long delays of 2004 and 2005. Those members who have already paid their 2006 subscriptions will receive their BCA card with this Newsletter. Those who pay later won't get them until I post out the next Newsletter or Bulletin.

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. If you do not pay by the end of March your membership of the GSG will automatically be terminated whatever class of membership you have - even Life. You have been warned!

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. It takes several days for electronic transfers to trickle through into the GSG account.

Standing Orders

There are two possible solutions for those members wanting to pay the correct amount by standing order. Either BCA get their insurance brokers to move faster - perhaps an impossibility, or the standing order is make payable towards the end of January rather than at the beginning. That should give enough time for the amount to be changed once the new subscription becomes known. It will delay receipt of membership fees by the GSG, but it makes my life easier if I don't have to either refund members small amounts when the subscription decreases or chase them for further payments when the subscription increases. With the present arrangement, instead of making subscription renewals simpler, standing orders are doing the opposite. Perhaps we should stop using them altogether. I'd welcome comments on this issue and I'll let you know later in the year of any decisions we make.


Julie is a Double Winner

The Hidden Earth 2005 UK caving conference was held in Mendip this year and featured the usual favourite competitions and races: 30m SRT races, 10m ladder races, surveying round a fixed course, obstacle courses, and photo, video and audio-visual competitions. A double prize-winner was GSG member Julie Hesketh. She outdistanced the competition in the 10m ladder climb (women) and out-stuffed the field in the 'stuff a 50m rope into a tackle sack' event. The prize for the latter was... 50m of rope stuffed in a tackle sack!

Caving News

Appin - Access Problem

The farmer owning the land around Albion Pot has asked us to fill it in and remove our hardware from the site. We've never had any problems on Forestry Commission land, but Albion Pot is outside the forest fence and we really should have found who owned the land and asked permission before starting our excavations. Weather permitting we'll do as he requests on the first suitable weekend.


Rana Hole - A team of seven extracted 175 loads on 10 December. On the 31st December Julian Walford installed a B&Q extension ladder on the second pitch bypassing the steadily lengthening and tricky climb down, and he and Martin filled some bags. A second shift of Roger and Annie filed more. On 1st Jan Ivan, Martin, Derek, Roger, Mark Brown and Norman Flux (SUSS) hauled 124 loads to the surface. On the 2nd Jan the bottom was flooding but about 80 bags were filled and left at the bottom of the first pitch.

ANUSC - Several trips over the last couple of months with one in November notable for giving the SCRO its only cave-related call-out in 2005. See later for the details.

Elphin Hole - Dan, Fiona and Lewis spent New Year's Eve surveying this as the old survey was so obviously inaccurate.


David Morrison and Richard Simpson were busy in 2005. Their list of new caves is now - High Pasture Pot 3, Dry cave, Mushroom cave, Tiny Pot, East Resurgence Cave and West Resurgence Cave. All have been or are being surveyed and written up. Here is Richard's report:-

Over in Ord. Martin Hayes Cave (extra Ord) has been surveyed and Mossy Cave searched for extensively, but not found. Nearby a tiny chamber was crawled into, but it goes nowhere. More promising is a dig at a sink further west with. 8m of passage so far and it is still going.

In Kishorn we have pushed Caves of Kings and gained 5m of passage ending at an ongoing dig with more passage visible. Well spotted Chris Warwick!

Choke Cave was extended by a few metres of high passage not noticed on previous visits. The survey has been modified. Triangle Cave is too tight after 3m, not 5m as in the Bulletin article. My mistake! It has also been resurveyed.

Anvil Cave and Collapse cave are not related. Anvil is about 100m up the hill. Also the Meekon survey shown in the Bulletin is not right. The north arrow is wrong (my mistake!) and some passages are missing. It has been redrawn.

The mine shown on the 1-25,000 map for Kishorn has been explored giving passages totalling some 150-200m. Well worth a visit, but wear a wetsuit!

David Morrison

YORKSHIRE - The Descent of Long Kin West

Friday 11 November witnessed several GSG members driving headlong into gale force winds and driving rain to reach the Hill Inn for a few beers by the fire before retiring to the Sheffield University Speleo Society hut (a converted railway goods wagon located behind the pub). The objective of the weekend was to descend Long Kin West on Newby Moss south of Ingleborough. After a cold start in the wagon, Mark Lonnen, Pete Ireson, Dan Harries, Lisa Kamphausen, Mark Brown, Derek Pettiglio and I descended upon Inglesport where we met up with Matt Hutson and there it was decided to split into two parties for the day, one for Long Kin West and the other to set up exchange trips in Pillar Holes. Roger and Annie were due to arrive later in the morning and had already offered to de-rig Long Kin West.

Both these potholes are accessed via a footpath beginning at a gate at Cold Cotes on the road between Ingleton and Clapham. The original footpath heading towards the south ridge of Ingleborough passes over a rock bridge on the L shaped rift entrance of Long Kin West (described in various guidebooks). However, today's more distinctive quadbike path swings west of this line by 200 m, but confusingly, also passes over a large depression with a pothole. Striking east from that point and keeping an eye uphill, the line of the less used, original path becomes apparent and the top of the pot is very easily located by following this downhill a little way.

Dan proceeded to rig and descend the pot, assisted by the weight of 145 m of rope! Lisa, Mark and I waited our turn in the fine sunshine above. The main pitch, split by rebelays at 8 and 35 m, was simply awesome. Not even the rumoured dead animals at the base of the pitch diminished the sense of awe! The headless sheep reported in July was now odourless and seemed to have transformed to a leathery bag of bones by some industrious microbes. A bloated frog also lay dead on its back but there was little sign of anything else (birds??). There was a break in the descent and later ascent of the main pitch to allow Mark B. to take some photos, assisted by the rest of us popping flashguns at various angles and positions up and down the pitch. The descent continued in style to the terminal rockfall and it was impressive that an excavation, neatly propped with scaffold and cement, has passed through this and leads into a wet rift that is restricted but clearly continues. Maybe, this pursues a link with Pillar Holes?

The other party enjoyed variations on exchange trips in Pillar Holes, and Pete I. and Mark L. also popped partway down Long Kin West to see how we were getting on, and then went back down Pillar Holes again, and then to Inglesport for tea and cake, and back again ... Roger and Annie had arrived before we had all descended and informed us that they would descend on Sunday and de-rig the pot. Hence, we steadily ascended taking time out for Mark Bs photo opportunities, without being encumbered by damp, weighty ropes. The highlight for me was a lonely mouse-faced bat, probably the Whiskered bat, clinging to the huge expanse of the wall of the lowest pitch. I gave due warning to everyone before recommencing the rope ascent because it was directly adjacent to the rope within range of back or foot. We emerged as darkness descended and were soon down the hill, changed and in no time were back at the Hill Inn sat in the bar for a fine meal. A large London outdoors club was in for its annual dinner and added to the convivial atmosphere, whilst Annie, Mark L. and Lisa passed through the wagonwheel spokes to impress a table of local veteran cavers, whilst they enjoyed a meal and pint, some reflecting that they may have consumed too many meals and pints since they last managed this feat to ever pass through the spokes again.

Sunday saw Roger, Annie and Derek heading for Long Kin West for their epic descent and the hard toil of de-rigging, with Mark B. and Dan heading for nearby Pillar Holes. Mark L., Pete I. and I went to Kingsdale and completed a sporting through trip from Yordas Pot to Yordas Cave via the sporting high level traverse. This was great fun and rounded off by the superb, warm and sunny weather for changing before and afterwards. Kingsdale was very busy with cavers, cars filling every layby - a source of encouragement that the sport is alive and well in Yorkshire (as indeed it is in Scotland).

Peter Dennis


Goon's weekend in Yorkshire to celebrate his 65th birthday turned out to be wetter than the average, which did modify plans more than a little. We stayed at the YSS hut in Helwith Bridge which is most conveniently placed for the pub. Some well kent faces appeared over the weekend including Zot on a special visit all the way from Mendip.

On Saturday 3rd December Ireby Fell was shrouded in mist with a gentle drizzle falling as the party of Goon plus nine other GSG members descended into the Cavern. As planned we laddered down Ding and Dong pitches to find a very well watered Bell pitch. After re-hanging the ladder to avoid the worst of the waterfall most of us descended, but with more rain possibly on the way and the water level rising slowly as we watched, a retreat was called.

We exited to navigate our way back to the cars through the mist and for once didn't lose anyone. It was predictable that the weather would then clear up and there would be no more rain that day. Despite this, the original plan for Sunday of Tatham Wife Hole was changed to a well watered splash through Calf Holes instead.


2006 Meets and Events

See the GSG events page.

Please send your requests and suggestions for other meets to me, Fiona Ware - GSG Caving Secretary

SCRO Notes

Holding a first aid certificate is not a requirement of SCRO membership, but is very desirable, and we are scheduling regular courses to achieve that aim. Eight members attended a basic BASP course held at Hillend in October and several joined Assynt MRT at an advanced course in Inchnadamph lodge on the 12/13th November. The timing of this was ideal because just as the course was about to end there was a callout to a caver in ANUSC with a suspected broken ankle.

A Dundee University Rucksack Club member slipped while climbing out of Second Stream Chamber and fell about 1.5 m injuring her right ankle. While the alarm was being raised the rest of her party helped her back to just inside the entrance. Within an hour the 20 strong contingent from the Advanced First Aid course arrived at the cave entrance. SCRO did the underground part with Dr Alison Jones diagnosing a broken ankle and the others helping the casualty to make her way through the Chiselled Hole and out of the cave. AMRT then had the 'pleasure' of carrying the stretcher for two hours down to the road.

It was late Sunday evening by the time Raigmore Hospital released their patient and astonished Alison by diagnosing a sprain rather than a break. However a couple of weeks later after a tardy review of the X-ray they phoned to recommend an immediate visit to hospital where Alison's original diagnosis was confirmed.

Misdiagnosis isn't unusual. You can read an account of a 1997 incident at McBrides Cave, Alabama when 11 cavers on a pull-through trip accumulated one broken tibia (misdiagnosed in hospital as a sprained ankle!) and one broken femur when rain on saturated ground caused a flood pulse in an already wet cave and contributed to the second accident.


There's also a short note pointing out that hypothermia (moderate!) can be a good thing if you spend 15 hours in a cave with a broken leg.

Other SCRO activities during the last few months were the annual joint exercise with AMRT in October; the 2005 Shell / Boots Across Scotland Mountain Rescue Seminar in Carbisdale Castle Youth Hostel in November, attended by four members; and almost another callout on Christmas Eve when a 10 year old, who had been missing overnight in Fauldhouse, was found just before a dozen members set off for the search area.


Elphin Caving Centre

The Christmas meal on 10th December was attended by over 20 members, families and friends. Peter wasn't feeling too well but duty called so he and Ginny paid a flying visit from Inverness. Peter with a little help from the others created a brilliant meal - especially the pudding which lit up the conservatory!

Over the New Year period the hut was filled to capacity with three tents pitched on the golf course to accommodate a hardy overflow. A few inches of snow fell on the Friday, but it was quite localized and from Ledmore Junction northwards there was none.

News Year's Eve saw the entire hut decanting into the Alt where we provided an instant crowd and even as New Year arrived I think we were still in the majority.

The next event is the Tartan Tremor theme evening. What that promises I know not, but you should let Peter know now if you plan to be there.

GSG Tartan Tremor Evening

Saturday 21st January 2006

Partan Bree


Howtowdie with Skirlie


Cloutie Dumpling
or Edinburgh Fog


Selkirk Bannock served
with Cheddar

Book your meal and bunk now - Contact Peter Dowswell.

And on the subject of letting the Hut Warden know in advance of hut use, the weekend of the 6/7th May has been reserved for the GSG. That is a very popular time of year, so if you want to find an empty bunk when you arrive in April through to June, please tell Peter now. This message is particularly aimed at our Mendip members whose ability to keep the Hut Warden in the dark about their plans never ceases to confuse.

Taigh nam Famh Bookings

Hut fees are £5.00 per night for non-members and £2.50 for GSG and BEC members. Reduced to £3.00 and £2.00 for children, students, 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 ( hutbookings @ ).


This section is now about maintenance rather than building. One essential piece of maintenance was completed in time for the New Year. The annual safety check of the gas system had revealed a leaking control valve on the gas range's left hand oven. This was the control with the missing knob, and the fault was probably a consequence of someone trying to operate it with a pair of pliers. Fortunately our man in Westergas managed to get a replacement control (£90 for parts) fitted just before Xmas otherwise we'd have been restricted to using just the old four-ring hob.

A new solid stone resin shower tray is now installed in the right hand shower room. This replaces the previous tray which was a skin of plastic over a foam interior. The foam had started to disintegrate leading to cracks in the surface. One member reported that the tray in the other shower room felt as if it was going the same way. It is probably inevitable that it will have to be replaced, though I hope it will last for a few more months. If you see any cracks appearing in its surface please let me know.

Still on the subject of repairs, the two Costco sofa-beds we bought in August 2004 are not robust enough for caving use. The seat is a metal grill welded to the tubular frame and under the strain (of what I might ask?) many of the welds have broken. At New Year with able assistance from Normal Flux (SUSS) the grill was cut away on one sofa-bed and replaced by a sheet of 12mm plywood. The other will be similarly treated once we've bought more plywood.

Further to the note on the dehumidifier in the last Newsletter, the fan heater part of it no longer operates continuously when the temperature control is turned to maximum. It does work when first switched on so I suspect that there has been a build-up of fluff and dust inside the unit. It isn't obvious how to get inside to clean it, so this is being left for a day when the drying room isn't being used.


Membership News

One more new member to report this time:- Alys Mendus - Joined us at New Year after sampling the delights of the hut. She is a member of SUSS and caved with the GSG in Meghalaya. She also formed part of the winning SCRO/SUSS team for the rescue race during last year's cave rescue conference in Priddy.

New Members

Alys Mendus

New Addresses

Hiba Aboulhosn, Ross Davidson, Iain Greig, Graham (Jake) Johnson

Other Changes

John Crae, email, Suzanne Peggie, email.

Roger and Sue Biddle are now enjoying a life afloat though not on the ocean wave. They bought a barge, Harmonie II, in early 2005 and there is a detailed description of the barge, their travels during 2005 and their plans for 2006 on their web site:- It is moored for the winter months in Kerkhoven, Belgium about 80km east of Antwerp. Roger sends regards to all the old codgers in the Grampian and best wishes for the festive season.

Chris(mas) Chapman has been spotted photographing Christmas illuminations around Edinburgh. He is now working for Edinburgh Council in the department responsible for, among other things, the Christmas street decorations and the annual erection and dismantling of the Tattoo seating on Edinburgh Castle Esplanade. His rope access expertise will be a real asset in his new job.

Internet Caving

The GSG site maintained by Andrew Brooks is at:-

GSG Data on the Internet

Peter Ireson has been busy on a web site for GSG specific data. It's not for general use and is password protected to restrict access to GSG members. It contains the GSG address list (please check your entry), equipment list, event calendar and hut booking calendar. There is a section reserved for trip reports at some future date and the SCRO contact list. Also there is a growing collection of photographs, plus sections for rigging guides, surveys and cave guides.

Some sections will be more up to date than others and Pete's aim is to get the GSG officers responsible for the data to update it directly on the server and cut him out of the loop. We'll see how that runs.

Life on a Line

The second much revised edition of Life on a Line, the online underground rope rescue manual, will soon be available at:-

It will have been extensively rewritten, include country specific modules, and is updated for the Working at Height Regulations. The web site promised it for October 2005, but it hasn't appeared yet.

Other Scottish caving clubs:-

Aberdeen University Potholing and Caving Club

Glasgow University Potholing Association

Assynt News

Balnakeil Beach Balls - These mysterious objects reported in the last Newsletter are evidently not unique. Peter Glanvill got a response from a Marine Life forum that he is in. Known as sea balls they are apparently formed when floating or suspended vegetation and other fibrous materials are repeatedly churned around next to a shore by wave action. They can have spherical or elongated cylindrical shapes. They have been reported from the USA, Australia and Ireland and GSG member Kathy Murgatroyd has seen them formed from pine needles on a Cairngorm loch. For one report from the USA see:-

Speed Traps in Assynt - watch your speed when travelling in Assynt. Our reporter while enjoying a convivial New Year at the Alt heard that the 40 mph limit through Elphin was being enforced by our friends in blue bearing radar guns. The camera van from Inverness had also been spotted on the long straight stretches of road between Ullapool and Braemore Junction. You have been warned!

The Alt for Sale? - Though the Alt was advertised in the Scotsman in late autumn, Eric and Christine have changed their minds. They have been assuring concerned caving customers that they will be continuing for a wee while longer. It just wouldn't be the same without them there, so everyone make a New Year resolution to tell them just how much we'd miss them if they left.

Elphin Community Centre - A proposal for the old school building in Elphin to be taken over for a Community Centre looks likely to fail. Peter Dowswell attended a meeting held in the school on the 6th January when about a dozen Elphin residents voted by a two to one margin against the proposal.

Email for the Newsletter can be sent to:- ivany @

Email for the Bulletin should be sent to:- goon90 @

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