Newsletter @ g-s-g.demon.co.uk
Since the last Newsletter progress has been spasmodic in Flood Resurgence No 2 - or, as it is now called, 'The Cave of True Wonders'. That has been translated into Gaelic as 'Uamh nam Fior Iongantais' though there are dissenting voices and another opinion is being sought. David, Ritchie and Toby variously pushed sections of the lower streamway adding perhaps another 50 metres and meeting a trogloxene eel face to face. The total length is now conservatively estimated at 500 metres and it is front runner for this year J'Rat Digging Award.(see later)
BBC Alba filmed there in late August. As the BBC's Gaelic channel they really wanted Gaelic speakers to interview but the GSG has none. Fortunately Bob and Rosemary Jones through their contacts found two volunteers from the Gaelic medium primary school in Inverness who were keen to see the cave. The two - Anne McLaren and Morag-Ann Macleod were kitted out by Bob and Rosemary, appeared to enjoy their trip and were appropriately enthusiastic during their interviews. I say interviews because it was transmitted on BBC Alba with their responses in Gaelic and on BBC Scotland News with their interview in English. The interviewer wasn't heard - she didn't speak Gaelic!
The BBC's Landward programme also wanted to film there as part of a series of items on caves. So far it has been too wet for them. They are also filming in Smoo Cave, have participated in a rescue exercise with SCRO and Oban MRT, and plan carol singing in a Fife Cave. The first of the series with SCRO should be transmitted on Friday 4th November at 7:00pm on BBC2.
The GSG took its Jubilee exhibition to Monmouth Leisure Centre in September for this year's National Caving Conference. There was a good representation from the GSG with 16 members there at one time or another though only four from Scotland. There were some great presentations. I attended the set on cave formation and dating including one by GSG member Trevor Faulkner on 'What we know we don't know about speleogenesis'. One message was that cave formation can take many thousands of years to generate a 1cm conduit, but from there only take another 1000 years to give a 2m diameter phreatic tube. Another very useful talk by 'Footleg' Fretwell on 'Panoramic Cave Photography' told us just what hardware and software we needed to generate perfect panoramas and how to overcome the typical lighting and movement problems that inevitably arise. I would have gone to more talks, but the GSG stand was already being left unattended far too long.
We did sell quite a few Decades in the Dark and some other GSG publications, but that was more than compensated by Goon's raid on the BCRA stand to fill gaps in the GSG Library collection plus our other purchases. Just opposite our stand Andy Sparrow of caveclimb.com was selling off ex-hire oversuits at £10 each: slightly tatty perhaps, but better than those I see many members wearing. When they appeared on the Sunday I immediately selected three of different sizes for the GSG store to loan to prospective members.
There was a general consensus that this was an excellent conference and one of the best ever. Everything appeared to go smoothly, and Les Williams the Conference Manager and all his helpers, including Fraser Simpson, have earned the admiration of the caving community for the results of all their hard work.
And thanks to Kate and Fraser Stephens for providing accommodation and curry.
The British Cave Research Association has just gained another Special Interest Group - the Cave Archaeology Group. It was launched in October 2011 to "promote interest and understanding of archaeology in and around caves" to everyone who visits or explores caves and may find archaeological or palaeontological material. The CAG succeeds the Upland Caves Network, a two-year limited lifetime discussion group of experts and interested parties that was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council - http://www.uplandcavesnetwork.org/default.htm.
To quote from the BCRA announcement:- "The group hopes to enlist support and interest from anyone who spends leisure or professional time in caves, or who require a 'first stop' point of contact for advice, information, or other help with finds of potential archaeological material in caves. It is hoped that group activities will be developed over time to include guided site visits, lectures, and the dissemination of information on cave archaeology projects. The success of CAG will depend largely on the level of interest and support shown by those with an interest in cave archaeology, who are also invited to come forward with their own suggestions regarding the development of the group.
The Cave Archaeology Group's web site is http://cag.bcra.org.uk/
John Howard is the Group's co-ordinator. Contact details are at http://bcra.org.uk/contact.html
Information about BCRA's SIGs is at http://bcra.org.uk/sig"
The web site includes an area for slideshows of relevant activities so we may send a selection of images from the recovery of the bear and other bones from Claonaite Seven.
On Saturday 19th November Mendip Cave Rescue is celebrating 75 years of rescuing cavers from caves since the Mendip Rescue Organisation (its name until February 2008) was founded in 1936. It is the second oldest cave rescue organisation in the world: only the CRO are older, by one year. GSG, SCRO and all Scottish cavers have an additional incentive to attend - see the next item.
The J'Rat Digging Award is an annual award to the club finding and surveying the most passage in Mendip or Scotland during the previous 12 month period from 1st November to 31st October. This is the third year it has been awarded with the first two going to the Wessex and UBSS for their discoveries in Charterhouse Cave.
This year Scotland is amazingly the front runner with Flood Resurgence No 2 (now named Uamh nam Fior Iongantais or Cave of True Wonders). The 500m of passage found there is reported to be well ahead of the competition. Charterhouse appeared to be in the lead, but some of their passage though surveyed during the last year was discovered earlier so cannot be counted. There are less than three weeks to go, so expectations are rising. Several Scottish members intend to travel down to Mendip for the MCR event and we hope that at least some of the original explorers will be there.
The full rules for the award were published in GSG Newsletter no. 141 p11 (Dec 2009)
The reports on the Assynt caves for SNH have been completed and that for the main caves was accepted and the final payment made to the GSG in late September. The report was 84 pages long and the accompanying database of photographs and surveys comprised 754 files totalling 360MB. Looking at the number of cave visits (7) and the number of hours spent processing photographs and writing the report (well over 200) I think SNH got excellent value for their money.
The last Newsletter mentioned that SNH were also going to ask us to report on the Bone Caves for both their Quaternary sediment content and their Pleistocene Vertebrata ie bones. That resulted in an addition to the original contract and Tim Lawson and I managed most of the field work one weekend in August while I tidied up some loose ends in September by ducking out of the second half of the SCRO exercise. This work also covered Bear Cave and since a good survey didn't exist one had to be produced. The GSG DistoX made short work of that and simpler surveys of some of the other unsurveyed Bone Caves. We also needed an improved survey of Connecting Passage in Bone Cave with its unauthorised dig that had added a pit in the floor since the 1996 survey.
Tim did most of the writing for this shorter report which came to 47 pages with 320 images and surveys adding up to 568MB. That includes scans of photographs taken by Alex Scott in 2002. These proved very useful allowing us to see where changes had occurred over the intervening nine years. As well as the inevitable disturbance caused by footfall, several boulders in inner Reindeer Cave and one in Badger Cave had been moved though there was no evidence of any digging. While recording all eight Bone Cave sites, Tim found several bones including the skull of a bird of prey in number 5. These are now with the Royal Scottish Museum.
Mark Stanford has continued his Tuesday evening digging trips to trace the route of the drainage channel from the mine. He and his friends have managed to move many of the larger boulders away from the channel and he was considering using a petrol powered pump to flush sand and pebbles away with sea water. With daylight failing ever earlier activity may switch to the weekends.
Andy Peggie and I joined John Crae on what was an official Historic Scotland trip to look at an underground icehouse in the grounds of the ruined Mavisbank House at Loanhead. It lies under a game larder and is entered through a 7m long brick-lined tunnel. HS were insistent that it was not to be entered by their employees until assessed and given a clean bill of health. Andy and I looked over the plywood barrier erected in the entrance and decided it was perfectly safe for cavers. I had a GSG DistoX with me so we made a quick survey of what we could see of the icehouse and the Game Larder. That building is directly above the icehouse with a communicating circular hole in its floor.
The circular brick-lined icehouse is about 3.5m in diameter and had remnants of a floor at the level of the tunnel and dropped at least another 2m, tapering as it went, to a presumed drain at the bottom under a layer of tiles, tree trunks, timbers and other debris. A chute at the far side was undoubtedly the entry point for snow and ice, but no sign remains of it on the surface.
The icehouse survey in the printed version of this Newsletter was produced by feeding the DistoX results into Excel. One day I'll have to find the time to download and learn how to use a proper cave surveying program.
Here's the new meets list. As before it would be great if anyone is willing to organise a club caving trip, and I can send off for any permits required. Also let me know of any caves you'd like to visit. Contact me with your suggestions. Ross Davidson.
See the events page.
The idea of a trip to Co. Clare was floated by some while we were in Slovenia. A few people are keen to do this next year, but in order to get as many along as possible it seems a good idea to give folk a choice of dates. The options are 9-11 March, the Easter weekend 6-9 April, or 28-29 April. Let me know if you're interested in coming along, and which of those date(s) you can make.
Whilst in Slovenia we met a Belgian caver, Luc Funcken, who enjoyed our company so much he offered us accommodation in his farmhouse in the French Jura. This is a classic caving area which I believe the club has visited previously* and features a great variety of caves with something for every taste and ability. Surely it would be churlish to turn down such an offer!
Register interest (this is not binding!) by contacting me.
This will give us a provisional idea of when people would like/be able to go, but I'll probably reissue the poll closer to the time offering a choice of the dates that proved most popular the first time round.
Previous GSG trip was in September 2002 see GSG Bull 4th Series 1 (4) pp 33-44 March 2003 and several members joined a Wessex trip in 2004. GSG Bull 4th Series 2 (4) pp 15-17 October 2005.
I'm organising an Appin trip on the 12th and 13th of November to visit as many of the 150m+ caves as time will permit. Some of us are staying over on the Fri and Sat night at Glencoe YHA and at the red squirrel campsite just down the road, and I'm sure the Clachaig inn will provide beer for the occasion.
If anyone would like to join us for the event or to pop over for day trips, please could you let me know, so I can arrange a meeting up place etc.
Any suggestions as to where to focus our efforts digging wise would be most welcome- I'm not actually intending this to be a digging trip, but who knows what we'll actually end up doing.
Sophie May - Has abandoned Edinburgh for Manchester. Now she has the full set of caving kit she'll be looking for cavers in Manchester to help her reach meets in Yorkshire. She was recently in Georgia for three weeks, didn't manage any real caving, but did visit Sataplia show cave
GSG members living in or near Inverness meet on the first Wednesday of the month in the Fluke Inn, Culcabock Road, Inverness IV2 3XQ. All members are welcome. Contact Bob & Rosemary Jones to check for time and date.
Every Tuesday evening GSG members gather in the Cumberland Bar in Cumberland Street. Most arrive from 8:30 onwards, but several, who work in town and live some distance away, appear earlier. Others might prefer to do the same. If that applies to you let us know and we can advertise an earlier start time.
I would like to generate some interest in the library within the membership. At present most inquiries for material or information come from people outside the caving community; for example, recently ROSPA asked for a copy of the 1960 Water Safety Booklet because they were revising their literature on the subject, but didn't have a copy in their own library!
I fully appreciate that trawling through the Internet will elicit specific information, but browsing publications often reveals subjects you were not looking for, but would still find interesting.
One way of approaching this might be to supply a summary of interesting topics in recent acquisitions which members might be tempted to borrow (but not hang onto for an extended period of time!) This list only cites new issues. Students of caving history will find a mass of fascinating material in the library. You only have to ask.
Here are a very few to whet your appetite:
I have only highlighted some of the contents of all these publications and shall in future contribute a similar summary in every newsletter if there is support for it.
The day started wet, but fortunately relented before the event began at 3pm at Jackie and George Sutherland's Newton Cottage. Mark had pre-selected two trees, and he and Ivan rigged a simple drop on the 'beginners' tree and three ropes with rebelays and deviations on the much higher 'advanced' tree. It then stopped raining.
A total of twenty enjoyed a fine afternoon either bobbing around on ropes or watching the activity. George fired up their BBQ to cook everyone's sausages while Jackie provided salads and Andy Peggie took the opportunity to sell almost all the remaining stock of the GSG Brain Wrecker Jubilee Ale. A halt was called at about 7pm and all the ropes taken down, Then the ladders came back out for Roger to re-ascend the taller tree to recover two slings he'd left dangling at the very top! It was very useful day with several members progressing rapidly under Mark's tuition. Many thanks to Jackie and George for providing the trees and the BBQ.
Hut fees are £5.00 per night for non-members and £2.50 for GSG, Bradford 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 - to check if there will be space (email:- hutbookings @ gsg.org.uk).
Xmas, Burns and Midsummer events are planned. Time has also been set aside for New Year and the 2012 Mendip Migration. For all of these please confirm attendance and dates as soon as possible to the Hut Warden.
Go to http://www.yr.no/place/United_Kingdom/Scotland/, type in a Scottish place name then select 'Hour by hour' That graphs the next 48 hours with temperature, wind, and maximum and minimum rainfall estimates for each hour. You can get individual forecasts for anywhere in Scotland. I asked for Elphin then Inchnadamph and though very similar there were differences between the two, and much larger differences when I then asked for Ullapool. I've used it a couple of times recently and was impressed. It matched reality well and I appreciated the max/min limits on rainfall as that allowed me to make my own decision rather than guess how pessimistic the Met Office were being.
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