Journal Series 2 Number 2

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.



Henslers Passage, Gaping Gill By K Dawe

Priddy Green Swallet By FJ Davies

Photographic Flash Factors for 'Kodachrome' By BM Ellis

Club Notices


Published by the Shepton Mallet Caving Club

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



I hope you will find some improvement in the standard of production of this issue.

The club continues to be very active speleologically but the most important activity, two weeks of original exploration in Ireland, is not reported in this issue. A small book containing accounts and surveys of the caves explored is to be published shortly and it is to be hoped that all members will purchase a copy.


Hensler's Passage Gaping Gill

Whitsun 1959

As has now become customary at Whitsun a large crowd of assorted Mendip cavers collected at Clapham. The SMCC contingent came with the sole intention of a trip through Henslers Passage. Accordingly, at about noon on Whitsunday and in glorious sunshine a party composed of Jerry Wright, Mike Boon, Mike Thompson, "Wally" Willcocks, and I, plus Phil Davey, Pam Russell, and Len Dawes of the Westminster Speleological Group collected at the entrance to Disappointment Pot. "Wally" suffered from a surfeit of booze and so turned back at this stage.

Disappointment is a neat, interesting little pot. Shortly after the entrance one meets a small stream, and the way on is straight downstream all the way. Immediately after meeting the stream one is forced into a complete soaking in a duck with about one foot of air space, after that the pot is simply a series of short ladder pitches, four of 30 feet, and a final one of 50 feet. In each case there is a perfectly good rock belay. Although it is not possible to use normal Mendip spreaders as belays, three feet of rope, or a sling and karabiner, is sufficient for each pitch. All except the last pitch are dry, but the water can be avoided here by hanging the ladder a few feet to the left of the stream. I must note that we visited the cave in dry conditions and I am told that Disappointment is a much more ferocious place after heavy rain.

Shortly after the final pitch the passage enters a large dry stream passage. Upstream leads to Henslers and downstream to a couple of sumps. Len and the girls decided to go straight on through Henslers to the GG Main Chamber but we went first to the sumps and investigated the possibility of diving in the future.

Len and his party failed to turn left into the main Henslers passage and finally landed in the large aven indicated on the map. From here they followed a newly discovered passage, by an easy route, to the Old East Passage of Gaping Gill.

Our visit to the two Disappointment sumps was interesting and worthwhile. They appeared to be quite roomy, and the further one at least, is an obvious place to dive. The sump is fed by a trickle but has obviously often taken large quantities of water; it is just possible that this passage is an old tributary to the main GG stream system. By using the new route from Old East Passage (that followed by Len Dawes) it would be fairly easy to get diving kit through to these sumps, particularly if the GG Main Shaft were winched.

Deciding that the aven on the loop of Henslers should be worth a visit we decided to go around the loop. The aven is huge, and impossible to estimate its height. From the map we knew that it is possible to return to the main Henslers Passage by taking a passage to the left from the aven, and at ground level. This passage soon degenerated into a low bedding-plane crawl 15 to 18 inches high, along bare rock viciously scalloped by past water action, it was damn hard work on the knees and arms.

No indication of water appeared on our sketch map but after about 15 minutes of crawling we found ourselves entering deepening water. We finally found ourselves in a chamber about 2½ feet high, containing 1½ feet of water and no obvious way on. We thrutched around for some time, tried to push Mike Thompson through an impassable duck (later learnt to be Myer's Folly) and finally retreated. Just as we were out of the water we heard voices from the other side. A party from the Stoke-on-Trent club had arrived from the GG end and were able to guide us through. The method of forcing the pool is fairly straight forward if known. Take the deepest part of the water channel until the water way goes slightly right. The correct way on is then a very sharp turn left under a duck below a flake of rock. This delightful spot can be thoroughly recommended to anyone seeking the true aesthetic delights of speleology - a veritable haven of charm, beauty and peace.

Figure 1Sketch Survey of Henslers Passage, Gaping Gill

After the pool the passage continued in the same vain as before, until after a short distance, Henslers main passage was reached and we turned right. This passage was also of a similar nature, with the added delight of small pools of water to wallow in every twenty feet or so. The crawl continued interminably until after an age we found ourselves in a diminutive chamber, about 5 feet square and 3 feet high. By huddling together the four of us could just fit in and, by means of a vast amount of physical contortion, we ate. After the meal we crawled twelve feet and were able to stand up. We were, Glory Be!, out of Henslers.

It only remained for us to make our way to the Main Chamber to scrounge cigarettes off anyone present and then leave the cave. Mike Thompson came up by the winch, the rest climbed the Bar Pot ladders. Despite the long queue at the Main Shaft Mike was out a good hour before the rest of us, which is a fair reflection on our physical state. Lord, did I enjoy that pint when we finally got back to the Shoes!

Ken Dawe


Priddy Green Swallet

Following the evidence obtained by "Wally", as described in the last issue of this journal, Jim Hanwell of the Wessex approached Mr Main and obtained permission to dig the swallet in the hope of entering Swildons IV and so providing an escape route from those distant parts of the cave.

Hopes were high when work was started at 5:30 am on Wednesday 26 August. By nine that evening vast quantities of soil and rock had been removed, and our hopes were much lower.

A shaft some six feet square and fifteen feet deep now leads to a steeply descending rift in heavily water worn rock. Despite a small setback when the shoring collapsed, work has now started on the installation of permanent concrete pipe as shoring since we are confident that this will go, although it may need much chemical persuasion.

Might I now put forward a suggestion about names. Cowsh Swallet was, I believe, first coined by Alan Fincham and I for the hypothetical swallet which fed cowsh down the aven in Swildons IV. Now that this has been shown to be the same as that known for years as Priddy Green Swallet then surely this name should stand. "Cowsh" however, is now accepted by many cavers, and, if the WSG, who were responsible for its exploration, have no objections, I would suggest that this now be transferred to the aven, ie the water of Priddy Green Swallet enters Swildons IV via Cowsh Aven.

Fred Davies


Photographic Flash Factors for use with "Kodachrome"

This is not an article on cave photography, nor even on colour photography. Plenty of these articles have appeared in caving journals but as far as the author is aware flash factors for use with colour film have not been published. In Table 1 are given factors for use with "Kodachrome Daylight" film and a Wratten '80A' filter, while Table 2 gives factors for "Kodachrome Artificial Light" film and a Wratten '81C' filter. In both cases clear flash bulbs are used though blue bulbs are equivalent to having a Wratten '80A' filter with "Daylight" film.

For each bulb three factors are given. These are the factors used by the author for:

  1. "average" indoor,

  2. "average" cave, and

  3. open air photographs with a flash gun having a dimpled shiny metal reflector.

The usual variations from "average" apply of course, but for large open chambers where there is no reflection from the walls the open air factors can be used. All these factors, except those for PF100's, have been checked by the author.

Table 1 – Factors for "Kodachrome Daylight" film and a Wratten '80A' filter

Table 2 – Factors for "Kodachrome Artificial Light" film and a Wratten '81C' filter


Club Notices

Club Dinner

The Club Dinner is to be held at the Cliff Hotel, Cheddar at 7:30pm on Saturday, 5th December. Tickets are obtainable, by members, at 12s 6d each from the Hon. Sec. Last date for applications, Monday 30 November.

Social News

(And at the orders of the Expedition Secretary)

Congratulations from the rest of the club to Andy & Fred on the birth of their first child, Simon James, on Friday, 15 May.

Bill Kitchin is to return from Aden early in December. When is the wedding, Bill?

Our thanks for your congratulations and we can assure all that Simon's caving indoctrination is proceeding successfully.


 Journal Series 2 Number 2