Journal Series 2 Number 1

Note that this is a re-print of the original publication, based on a scanned copy. During the process of converting the original paper copy to this electronic version, the original formatting, page layout and page numbers have been lost. All diagrams and surveys have been scanned from the original and are consequently of poor quality.



Gaping Gill Meet By J Wright

Club Notices

Water Testing on Mendip By Wally Willcocks


Published by the Shepton Mallet Caving Club

The Mineries, Wells Road, Priddy, Wells, Somerset, BA5 3AU



Let me be brief, and merely, in this first editorial that I have ever written, state what I hope to achieve and maintain. I hope that this will be a record of caving activities by members of the club and of serious articles on caving topics. Publication to be twice a year, in May and November, though if I am provided with sufficient material this could be altered.

Please send all articles, criticisms, etc., direct to the editor.


Gaping Gill Meet, Whitsun 1958

About eight members and friends of the club set up camp among the thirty or forty other tents on the banks of Fell Beck on Saturday 24 May.

We were ready early on Sunday morning and were the first party to use the winch that day. The 40 second, 360 foot, drop to the floor of Main Chamber was an exhilarating experience. Ones eyes became accustomed to the light slowly and so it was several minutes before the details of the huge chamber could be seen. Here we divided into two parties, one section exploring the South West Passage whilst the others went down Old East Passage to the sump.

East Passage provided some grand formations though most of them were dead and muddied. Mud Hall was the only difficulty, an awkward traverse followed by a 50 feet ladder down a steep mud wall, then a tedious climb up steep boulders into the roof again. This large chamber looked most impressive with the lights of other parties flickering high in the roof.

Returning to Main Chamber, the two parties exchanged routes after a hot drink prepared on the primus left by us in West Chamber.

South West Passage proved to be an awkward stony crawl until we reached Sand Cavern, here about thirty hardy souls had spent the night. Despite their tents and exposure suits they still looked frozen and had a hard job to convince us that they really enjoyed that sort of thing. Leaving Sand Cavern we passed through Stalactite Chamber (another well decorated spot) traversed around Mud Pot and so reached Stream Passage. We forced our way on through a very muddy boulder choke, but it soon closed down, so we returned once more to West Chamber. Another hot drink, dissolved Kendal Mint Cake this time, then a look at the huge queues for the winch made half the party decide to come out via Bar Pot. This gave us a fine 100 feet ladder climb but we were not impressed by the heavy wood and rope tackle that the Bradford club had put on the pitch. We emerged, slightly tired, after about thirteen hours of interesting, but far from difficult, caving, and looking forward to the next time when we hope to make an attempt on Henslers Passage.

Andy, Fred and Jerry stayed on at GG for the remainder of the week and sampled some of the other delights of the Allotment Area. Marble Pot has a very impressive entrance but it finishes most disappointingly in a muddy chamber after two short pitches which do not at all correspond to the Britain Underground description.

Long Kin Cave with its smooth walled, excessively meandering, 900 feet of stream passage was a much more interesting place. This emerged at the foot of a shallow open shaft and then vanished immediately opposite down Long Kin Pot. Here the way became much steeper and a rope proved very useful on a series of cascades. Suddenly we found ourselves on the edge of a very big pitch where a powerful electric lamp could not pick out roof, walls, or floor. This was the big chamber of Rift Pot with a 200 feet pitch to the bottom.

Grange Rigg, or AG Pothole was the scene of our first, and most exciting trip however. In company with three scouts from Halifax we worked our way down its very narrow stream passage. Most of it consisted of a tight wet rift with wider solutional development above. We found the Britain Underground description unreliable and demonstrated the elasticity of nylon rope when a ladder had to be belayed by a single length of nylon line.

By crawling through a boulder choke three of the party entered a pair of small chambers filled with fine stal formations. These formed a sharp contrast with the cold, wet, restricted, stream passage we had just passed through. Two of the scouts then suffered a light failure and so we did not push on beyond those chambers though there did appear to be still a way on.

The end of the week came all to soon and we are looking forward to the next time that we can spend a week in Yorkshire.

Jerry Wright


Club Notices

Binegar Bottom Slocker

We are hoping to arrange a club dig at a promising site in East Mendip which has been given the above name. Negotiations are still proceeding with the landowner under the direction of Ken Dawe.


Water Testing on Mendip

It is most desirable that the various connections between various "sinks" and resurgences should be positively tested.

The obvious way in which this can be done is by throwing into these sinks some highly concentrated colouring matter, eg fluorescein, and watching the suspected resurgences for the appearance of the coloured water. While this may well be feasible in sparsely inhabited areas, on Mendip, where the water is used for drinking and in manufacturing processes, this is plainly impossible. Several other methods have been tried and, during the month of November 1958, a further one was employed to prove the connection between the sink on Priddy Green and the Aven Series of Swildons IV.

Some 7lb of copper sulphate was dissolved and poured into "Cowsh Swallet" (the Priddy Green Swallet of Balch, see "Caves of Mendip".), just prior to the entry of the cave. While diving operations were in progress below, Dr OC Lloyd took spaced samples of the water flowing down the relevant aven, these were brought to the surface and then tested for copper. The results show plainly that there is a connection between the two points, and that it is fairly direct, about 4 hours being required for first traces to appear. Control samples from the main stream above the aven were not considered necessary, and this was supported by the results as the increase in copper content with time can only be explained by assuming that the water had been contaminated by the copper sulphate from the surface. Had the copper content been constant then a later test of the water from the aven and main stream would have been necessary.

The testing methods employed were adapted from the procedure advised in "Organic Reagents for Metals" by Hopkin & Williams, using sodium dithiocarbamate (C2H5)2NCS.SNa.3H20. A 0.1% aqueous solution of the reagent was employed.

5ml sample and 1ml 0.880 ammonia plus 1ml test solution were shaken together and extracted with 0.5ml iso-amyl alcohol. Producing, in the presence of copper, a golden brown extract. The limit of the test is of the order of 1 part in 50 million, or greater, with experience. A sample of the untreated water flowing into "Cowsh Swallet" gave no reaction.

Samples taken by Dr OC Lloyd:

"Wally" Willcocks (in conjunction with PMN)


 Journal Series 2 Number 1