Grampian Speleological Group Newsletter
Number 131, August 2007

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Saucy Mary and the GSG's 2007 Annual Dinner

Caisteal Maol is a ruined castle on the Isle of Skye opposite Kyle of Lochalsh on the mainland. It was occupied by a Norse princess nicknamed Saucy Mary who married Findanus MacKinnon in about 900AD. They ran a heavy chain across the water and extracted a toll from every ship passing through the straits - the Caol Acain (Kyle Akin): which is a roundabout way to introduce the venue for the 2007 GSG Annual Dinner. It is being held in Saucy Mary's Lodge, Kyleakin on the Isle of Skye. You will be relieved to hear that the new bridge is now toll free.

The dinner is on Saturday 27th October. We have booked the entire Lodge for Friday and Saturday nights at a much reduced rate which extends to the associated Glenarroch B&B next door, though there is a supplement for its en suite rooms. Until September I will give priority to bookings for both nights, and will attempt to allocate rooms to fit in with your wishes. You can order breakfast or use the self-catering kitchen and there is a drying room. If you want to arrive earlier than Friday or stay later than Sunday, ring the Lodge and the proprietor, Jonathan Supper, will be pleased to hear from you. More details are on the web and they can be contacted on 01599 534845. Our vegetarian members will be pleased to hear that Jonathan is one, and Saucy Mary's specialises in vegetarian cuisine.

We will have exclusive use of the bar on the Saturday night. Since we will be staying in the Lodge closing time will be 'flexible'. There are usually four Isle of Skye beers with one on draft and they have been warned that adequate stocks will be required. They also stock Fraoch, Grozet & Kelpe and have an extensive wine list with bottles from L9 to L17.

Please fill in the booking form and return it with your cheque as soon as possible. Saucy Mary's accommodation is strictly limited to 35/36 in the hostel (10 rooms) and 10/11 in Glenarroch (4 rooms) and it will be first come, first reserved. This year we are asking you to select both starter and main course. To help Jonathan with his catering we are also taking orders and payments for Saturday and Sunday breakfast. I'll issue tokens for these when you arrive.

Some of you may wish to eat on the Friday night when you arrive. If so, then it would help if you could indicate that on the booking form. This isn't a commitment, just another way of assisting Jonathan and helping the weekend go smoothly. Arrival time on Friday should be after 4pm. If you want food and are going to arrive late then give Saucy Mary's a call.

Cave Guides

Our local Golden Gnomes, Richard Simpson and David Morrison, have been busy discovering, surveying and describing caves both in Skye (see later) and the nearby Kishorn and Applecross area. We hope to have their definitive work on the caves of the latter areas ready for distribution for the dinner weekend. We'll also have copies of Caves of Skye available. It is steadily being rendered more and more out of date by David and Richard's discoveries, but there isn't time to update it for the dinner

Annual Dinner Caving

Over the weekend of the dinner there are more than enough caves to keep everyone occupied either on Skye or on the mainland in Applecross and Kishorn. Keen diggers will find David and Richard full of suggestions. If you want to extend the weekend in either or both directions there is plenty to keep you occupied. For those wanting to continue to Assynt we'll reserve the hut for the following week.

BCA Membership Cards

Membership cards are being distributed with this Newsletter to GSG members unless 1) they already have them or 2) they joined the GSG in the last month or so. If you were expecting one and don't find it please contact me.


Vale: Mark Adrian Campbell, 7.5.66 - 30.7.07

Mark was born and brought up in Northumberland before the family moved to Northern Ireland, following Mark's father who worked for the Irish National Health Service.

Mark worked in computers in Edinburgh after gaining his degree in a related discipline. It was during his time in Edinburgh that he met Eleanor Yates, who was later to become his wife. After about a decade of his high flying career he decided on a life change move, with Eleanor, to Assynt (Eleanor's home). This was an area he knew and loved after countless visits to see Eleanor's friends and family. They moved in early 1998 when Eleanor took over Sutherland Gemcutter's from her father. Mark opened a bike hire in the shop next door. He converted that to his outdoor shop, Assynt Adventures, two years later and he ran it with great success.

Mark had a long love of mountaineering and the outdoors, from treks along Hadrian's Wall in his early teens to mountaineering with his university club. At this time he also enjoyed paragliding and messing about with cars, banger racing and building et cetera.

More recently, after moving to Assynt, Mark joined Assynt Mountain Rescue Team in 1998, becoming Deputy Team Leader a short time later. He spent the next decade running the businesses with his family and a large amount of time caving, climbing, canoeing and mountaineering. He was an active member of the Oban Mountaineering Club, the GSG and SCRO. Mark enjoyed several foreign forays with success on tree continental summits, discovered a few new Scottish caves, and spent the last two winters touring Spain with his family. He was now just beginning to introduce his young son Iain, born in 2002, to the delights of caving and climbing.

Mark died as a result of a sudden, severe and totally unexpected asthma attack. Mark leaves Eleanor and Iain and will be very sadly missed by all.

Chris Warwick




With progress slowing in Rana, members haven't been slow to find other places to dig. 1) 3-G's Cave (NGR NC 26991 16648) - Named after the discoverers - Derek Guy, Peter Glanvill and his daughter Phillipa - this is a flood sink for the Lochan an Claonaite drainage. They found it on the 29th April and after some digging, banging and more digging they have declared it a cave. The low entrance is protected by a boulder dam. After a couple of metres a bedding full of mud lies ahead with low crawls to the left and right for two or three metres. A draught has been noticed and though there is no walking passage yet and a lot of clearance is required Phillipa is confident that it will go. 2) Torran Pot/Uamh an Torran (NGR NC 19915 09972) - Discovered by Snab on Tuesday 29th May, this is a 6m deep shaft above Knockan Crag. He and his ISSA mates excavated the remains of several sheep from the bottom and left it covered by a metal grill to stop it swallowing more livestock. It is named after Snab's dog who passed away during the trip north. 3) Humps Hole (NGR NC 272 163ish) - Roger Galloway, Martin Hayes and Mark Campbell during a line search of the moor near Claonaite found a promising sink on Saturday 15th July and started pulling boulders out of it. Roger and Martin reinforced by John Crae returned on Sunday and concentrated on stabilizing the entrance. They found another void and though there is no passage as yet, they thought it promising enough to be named and recorded.



David Morrison and Richard Simpson continue their efforts to render our stock of Caves of Skye increasingly incomplete by regularly finding more caves.



There have been trips into Sunset, Great Douk, Rift Pot (Marble Steps), Tatham Wife, Notts Pot, Rowten Pot, Cow Pot, Marble Steps and more during the last three months. Peter Ireson and Mark Lonnen continue to feature heavily in the cast with Ross Davidson as new GSG Caving Secretary aiming to keep the cave count growing faster Peter Dennis travelled from Wales to join the Cow Pot meet, added Bull Pot, and did the round trip again a few weeks later for Notts Pot.

Progress at High Pasture Cave

There have already been exciting developments this year from the archaeological digs in and around the cave. The corroded remains of what appears to be an early socketed iron axe head were found in Bone Passage. If true this is a rare find probably dating from between the 8th to 5th century BC. Taking the history further back, a uranium thorium date from a stalagmite boss above a deposit of cow bones in Bone Passage came in at around 4000 years BP. The cow bones would have been placed several hundred years earlier. A surface trench has found the infilled remains of structures older than the entrance stairway. One is possibly an earlier entrance. There are also walls arcing around the present 'cavers' entrance that might have been intended to divert water down it as an early flood control measure. In another trench digging has found possible postholes in the basal clay with associated flint tools that appear to be Mesolithic. This pushes human occupation of the site back many thousands of years BP. All this greatly increases its significance, and the variety and quantity of finds and the lengthy period of occupation must make it one of the most important sites in the Western Isles.

The website contains many photographs of the work and the finds. There is a report on the Specialists Meeting and Seminar held in Skye during June. This brought together all the 'ologists concerned in interpreting the finds from the cave with about 40 folk attending. Unfortunately neither Ivan nor Tim Lawson were able to be there.

From the 4th to the 8th September there will be Open Days at the site including on-site events, displays and guided walks including displays of prehistoric craft skills. You are welcome to visit any day and you should find work progressing from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm Mondays to Friday until the end of September.


2007 Meets and Events

See the events page.

New Caving Secretary

The GSG now has a new Caving Secretary. Ross Davidson volunteered to fill the post and as an active caver he's already got ides on how to fill the meets list, but before he does he'd like to hear which caves should be booked in Yorkshire, which other areas in the UK deserve to be visited, and how many weekends to leave free for local trips arranged at short notice. Contact him with your requests at 07794 740021(mobile).

Membership News

New Members

New members since March are:- Richard Boyle, Peter Hardyman, Andy Wright.

New Addresses

Peter Dennis, Iain Greig.

Other Changes

Paul Archibald mobile; Chris Chapman work email; Nathan Critchlow-Watton mobile; Ross Davidson mobile, work; Lisa Kamphausen email; Graham Marshall email; Hugh Penney email; Derek Pettiglio mobile; Carol Walford email.

Elphin Caving Centre

This year's maintenance programme hasn't really started yet, while the excavation for the shed extension is languishing unfinished. Most of the rooms could do with a coat of paint and other items such as the FM aerial which isn't working properly need fixed. Mary Harrison

We have had a blitz on the nettle population treating them with Roundup at irregular intervals and the brown patches around the fence testify to its efficacy. Feel free to continue the campaign whenever you are there.

Our crop of trees round the hut is growing well. Those in front of the conservatory are being trimmed to reveal the view. After consultation one rowan growing too close to the holly was felled by Julian Walford. The hedge though thin in places is growing vigorously and being encouraged to grow more densely by periodic trimming.

Hut fees are L5.00 per night for non-members and L2.50 for GSG, Bradford 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 at any time please contact the Hut Warden - Peter Dowswell - to check if there will be space (01463 229250). There will usually be a few bunks spare if large groups are staying. Even if all bunks are occupied the bed-settees by the fire are recommended and spare mattresses in the front bunk room can be used in the conservatory.

Assynt News

Internet Caving

The satellite imagery available on Google Earth and on Microsoft's Live Search Maps is all very well, but of poor resolution over areas of real interest to us such as Assynt and Skye. Another site - Multimaps - now has much improved imagery. Whilst still not as good as that for Edinburgh, in Assynt it is good enough to see the shakeholes opposite the Bone Caves and to see a light coloured patch that might just be the tip at Rana Hole.

An interesting site of possible relevance to our 'mining' activities in Rana Hole is McIntosh Engineering They publish a Hard Rock Handbook and the site includes a list of hundreds of Rules of Thumb for the mining industry. The one that caught my eye was for hoist speed. If H is the hoisting distance then Optimum Speed (m/s) = 0.405 H½ , where H is in metres. So for Rana that gives about 2.2 m/s - something for our cyclists to aspire to.

Andrew Brooks pointed out that the BGS have a new edition of the 1:50,000 Assynt Special Sheet (Bedrock). It is a fully revised replacement for the classic 1923 Assynt Special Sheet, and incorporates the wealth of mapping and research work that has been carried out in the area since the original Special Sheet was published. The new map also includes extensive cross-sections, annotated photographs, and a diagram showing the main structures, which help the user to understand the structural complexities of this internationally famous area. Buy it online for 12 at the BGS shop.

GSG publications (prices to non-members in brackets)

Caves of Skye          - 6.00 (8.50)  Caves of Assynt    -  6.00 (8.50)*
Caving Songs of Mendip - 3.00 (4.00)  Caves of Schichallion 3.00 (4.00)*
The Southern Highlands - 1.20 (1.50)  Appin Cave Guide    - 1.50 (2.00)*
Appin Cave Guide Supplement    2.00 (2.50)
Buddy reading (Caving in Couplets)  2.00 (2.50)
                  * out of print - photocopies available
          GSG Ties - 5.00, T-shirts 8.00 and sweat shirts 10.00
            Contact Alan to hear what colours are available.

Postage extra - order from:-    Alan Jeffreys, 8 Scone Gardens,
                                Edinburgh, EH8 7DQ (0131 661 1123)
                        or:-    Ivan Young, 45 Maitland Road,
                                Kirkliston, West Lothian,
                                EH29 9AP (0131 333 3084)
                Please make cheques payable to "G.S.G."

Scottish Cave Rescue Organisation News

New First Aid Kits

Kate Janossy has made up four new first aid kits in grey Pelicases plus a fifth for demonstrations and for use during exercises in a yellow case. Two of the kits are in the Assynt MRT post at Inchnadamph and the others are in our Winchburgh store.

New Stretchers Ordered

Our present Gemini stretcher is well scraped and its straps must be past the usually accepted life for fabric PPE items. As a full affiliated member team of the Mountain Rescue Committee of Scotland we can request medical equipment from the Order of St John though the MRC of S Medical Officer. We have asked for Slix100 full length and Slix50 half length stretchers, the latter with its articulated skirt to protect the thighs, plus a spinal splint that is compatible with both. Details can be found on the JA&RE REACT web site.

We'll also be ordering the BCRC casualty bag once it is in production and hope to persuade AMRT to get the same gear for their Inchnadamph rescue post. Perhaps we'll have them in time for the October Assynt exercise.

Assynt Exercise

Our annual joint exercise with Assynt MRT is being planned for the first weekend in October - probably Saturday the 6th. It is too early to tell you what is planned, but you should reserve that weekend in your diary now.

SCRO Clothing

Mark Lonnen has an agreement with a local company to embroider the SCRO logo onto a variety of different items of clothing in a rainbow of colours - except I can't find yellow! Some committee members have ordered a few items and they have turned out very well.

You can view the catalogue in the members' section of the SCRO website. The members' link is at the bottom of the home page. If you've lost the email with the login details just ask Ivan or Mark. Once you've decide what to order, print out and fill in the order form and send it with a cheque payable to 'SCRO' to Mark Lonnen, Hunthall Cottage, Glendevon, Dollar, Clackmannanshire, FK14 7JZ Every item you buy includes a small contribution to SCRO funds.

Volunteer Time

The most expensive part of running a voluntary rescue organization doesn't appear in the yearly accounts. That is the cost of the time you donate to it during callouts, during exercises, while on training courses and while running the organization. This is now changing as OSCR (Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator) wants an assessment of the contribution made by volunteers to appear in the annual report. The MRCofS also want it from member teams to help them in negotiations with the Scottish Executive to renew the grant aid they've enjoyed over the last five years. This time we have hopes of being included. So please keep a record of the time you spend and the miles you drive on SCRO activities. Ivan and Dave will be asking for them when they write the annual report if not before.

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