Journal Series 4 Number 3

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.



Expedition Planning and Associated Problems by L Parsons

Review: Lancaster Hole and the Ease Gill Caverns 

A New Survey of Holwell Cavern by BM Ellis

Hyatt's Hill Cave Preliminary Report by R Haskett

Review: Studies in Speleology



Journal published by the Shepton Mallet Caving Club

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



It appears that members are at last taking notice of appeals for more writers to supply articles for the journal, but I hope those who have supplied me with material do not assume that they have done their bit, and need write no more articles. If the present standard is to be maintained every active caver in the club must record details of his caving projects.

In this article L. Parsons, an experienced climber and mountaineer, has supplied information on how to plan expeditions. All the information is relevant to caving, and should be very useful for those who are planning caving trips abroad.

Also in this issue appears a new survey of Holwell Cave. The new survey can be compared with earlier surveys of this cave. A history of the earlier surveys appears in Brian Ellis's accompanying article.

At last we hear that work is being carried out on the Mendips. The article by Roger Haskett gives a detailed account of the digging in Hyatt's Hill Cave. The dig seems very promising and appears to be on the point of breakthrough.


Expedition Planning and Associated Problems


Each year an ever increasing number of parties leave this country to go on expeditions. Whether they are going the shorter distances to Iceland or Greenland, or the greater distances to the Himalayas and beyond, each party has a considerable amount of planning to do before they can depart.

The difficulties encountered in organising and participating in an expedition, whether geographical, speleological or mountaineering, are very similar. Basically the difficulties are: where to go, and how to travel; the size of the party; the tasks of individuals; cost; grants available and recoverable expenses.

Where to Go

It is fair to say that most people generally think that before going on an expedition, the members know exactly where they are going to go. Most people start thinking of a general area. A climbing expedition may decide they are going to the Himalayas, but the Himalayas is two thousand miles long. When deciding upon your objective you have three choices; either you go to somewhere that has been previously visited, or you go to a previously unvisited area and explore that area, or you can go to a specific place and investigate and/or conquer your objective.

Extensive research through libraries and expedition reports and discussions with past explorers and expedition members will help you in forming your conclusions. During this research many conflicting opinions may be found, and it is up to you to glean what you can from those.

At present many countries are difficult, if not impossible, to enter and amongst these are Pakistan, India, Tibet, Russia, China and Burma. In others which you can enter, you will be restricted to certain areas, these countries include Afghanistan and Poland. However access conditions are changing all the time and it is very much dependent upon the information received from the Embassy prior to departure.

Plenty of time should be allowed when dealing with embassies as sometimes it may take up to six months to get permission to enter a country. And don't forget visas for the other countries you will have to cross on the way.

How to Travel

If you intend your expedition to go anywhere in Europe or Asia, then transport per thousand miles will be cheaper than if you are going to somewhere like Patagonia. The majority of expeditions going to Asia use the overland routes, and these are getting better each year.

Your choice of vehicle is now much wider than it was five years ago. Most people think in terms of a Landrover but with these recent improvements this is not really necessary. A vehicle such as a Volkswagen micro-bus is just as good. Ex-WD vehicles are very cheap to purchase and usually very reliable.

Fuel supplies are now far more readily available than they have been in the past and one will never have to go much more than 200 miles before you can get fuel in any quantity. Whether you choose petrol or diesel no longer matters, but if you choose diesel you will have to carry a little more, as sometimes, in places like Afghanistan, you may have to go 400 miles before you can get extra diesel supplies. Personally I prefer a diesel vehicle. It is far more reliable and much more economical to run. Maybe not quite so fast, nor quite so much acceleration, but quite suitable for an overland journey.

Contrary to the opinions of many who have not tried it, the additional use of a trailer is most practical – provided it is of strong construction.

Should you decide to go to South America, an area which has been explored considerably in the past five years (and there is still a vast amount to do) the problem is a very different one. Firstly you have to decide how you are going to cross the Atlantic. Most parties generally end up by sending their equipment, possibly with one member, by sea, and the rest of the party will fly. But this is not all of the problem, you still have to transport the equipment and yourselves across land for some considerable distance afterwards. Costs of hiring transport and of using the standard routes across the Atlantic are very high, and this must be very much considered when planning an expedition to such areas.

Size of Party

This is one of the most debatable parts of expedition planning. No matter where you decide to go, it will doubtless be very remote and any help from local people will be very small. So one thing one must bear very much in mind is a safe number for your party. Most people think in terms of four, and most parties sub-divide their team into two pairs so that the individual pairs can go off and do whatever the programme demands. However should one person fall sick or have even a minor accident, this will put considerable strain on the other three members of a four man party. I have personally experienced an example of this and am now very much of the opinion that six persons is a far safer number.

Economics also have to be considered when deciding upon the size of your party, it is much cheaper to transport four people overland in one vehicle than it is three in an identical vehicle.

Once you have decided on the size of your party you come to one of the most important parts of the planning of any successful expedition. Each member of the party should take part in all the preparations and in addition have his own sphere of responsibility. There should be early discussions by everybody on all aspects of the expedition. After that, each aspect should be left to the individual responsible, but responsibility for each and every item must lie within the party and not with some person or body outside. The field plans should normally be the responsibility of the leader and everyone must be fully persuaded of the correctness of these plans.


No matter how small your party is and on how friendly a basis you want to run your expedition, it is essential that you do have a leader. The leader may be chosen by senior rank, professional status or far superior experience. He (or she) must be a person who is recognised by their dominating personality and their inherent power to command. The entire morale of the party circles very much around the leader and it is up to him to ensure that each participant gives his services cheerfully and unsparingly; and likewise for each participant to subordinate himself to the needs of the common cause and the furtherance of their mutual aims.

The tasks should be split amongst the expedition members as evenly as possible. Sometimes some members have far more spare time than others and these may like to take on a larger share of the work. The usual breakdown of the tasks is:

  • food; equipment; journey, visas and documentation; medical; photography; and finance.


Food is one thing on which a considerable amount of money can be saved, providing ample time is given to write around to the many dozens of companies who are prepared to help small expeditions. You should be able to get all your food for very small cost – a four man party should not have to pay any more than £5 a head for two months food. But it cannot be over emphasised that this figure to be spent on food depends very much on the person who is organising that side of the expedition. Whoever takes on this task should never try to scrimp the quantity of food taken. Calorific breakdowns, which may not be precise but nevertheless fairly accurate, are reasonably easy to obtain. When planning the food one should always work to a figure of somewhere in the region 4000 to 5000 calories per man per day, this will give you a sufficient quantity to withstand any losses that you may have on the journey. Variety in the diet is another very important point – a satisfied stomach is a happy man.


This is another very important part of the planning and whoever undertakes it should be fully conversant with all the items required. When planning equipment it is very easy to draw up extensive lists involving literally hundreds of pounds of expense. Most small expeditions use their own equipment, anything they haven't got they try to borrow, and if they can't borrow then as a last resort they will buy.

One task we have not mentioned is the packaging of all food and equipment. This is something that is generally done communally just prior to the departure of the expedition. But prior to this being possible somebody has to organise some form of containers. Very often the persons responsible for food and equipment will get together and discuss this and sort out some suitable containers. Very strong cardboard boxes are available, but you may prefer wooden containers, which if you have a handyman available you can make for yourselves. When deciding upon the size and shape of your packages you have two things to consider, the size and shape of your vehicle, and also how you are going to transport the packages after you leave the vehicle.

Journey, Visas and Documentation

Planning the actual journey is not a very difficult business. There are several bodies who can help you with this – the Automobile Association and Royal Automobile Club both issue printed routes to almost anywhere in the world. If you decide that your expedition shall go outside of Europe then you will find the task of visas and documentation a very large one. Ideally if one of your members lives close to London, where all the embassies are situated, then the task will be a little easier. Otherwise whoever has this job will have to sit down and write many, many letters, and sometimes have to wait many months for a reply.


Few small expeditions have a doctor in their team, and at first this will give rise to some apprehension. However there is now an excellent book ("Exploration Medicine", edited by OG Edholm and AL Bacharach, published by John Wright of Bristol in 1965) which will prove to be a tremendous help on this subject. It gives detailed lists of all the drugs, dressings and prophylactics you will require to take with you. In addition to this it tells you how to treat and recognise many of the more common ailments. If you are going to the more remote Asiatic regions you will be quickly approached by the local inhabitants for medical attention. Though your knowledge of medicine may be small, there is a tremendous amount you can do to help these people as they have no idea of how to dress wounds and they have never heard of an antiseptic. Even the more severe cuts and gashes can also be dealt with, and there is no reason why you should not take the necessaries with which to stitch a severe laceration. You may initially find putting in stitches very awkward, but the end result is most rewarding.


Most expeditions aim to keep accurate and detailed records; this will involve the selection of a scribe and also a person (or persons) to undertake the photographic requirements. Much thought should be given to the photographic equipment taken, and also the type of photography which is to be undertaken. Many parties are often tempted to undertake a cine project but after further consideration and enquiries they find that only 16 mm cine is worth doing, and this is very expensive. No matter what you finally decide to do, make sure that you take ample supplies of film. If you are dealing with only still photography make sure that one person takes black and white and another person takes colour. Avoid ending up with countless colour slides, most of which will probably be duplicated, and hardly any black and white. Whatever equipment you take should be fairly robust as you can expect it to take a fair battering.


The cost of mounting an expedition always sounds very high, but if you equate the time you are away per person it works out to a surprisingly low figure. Recent overland expeditions have worked out at approximately £14 per head per week. But where does this cost come from? The cost of petrol/oil to Pakistan and back is roughly £250 for a Landrover and trailer; insurance for the vehicle for three months is £40 – £50; medical insurance for the members, insurance for loss of cash and other equipment, £10 – £15; a set of new tyres, £80; and so the list grows – Landrover spares, medical equipment, any equipment you have not been able to borrow, not to mention the initial cost of the vehicle and the amount it depreciates while you are away.

However to encourage the present day explorer there are several bodies who give away a certain amount of money each year to deserving expeditions. Two such bodies are the Mount Everest Foundation and the Royal Geographical Society, the latter will loan you for the length of your expedition surveying equipment in addition. Nevertheless the individual is still expected to dip into his pocket for approximately half of the total cost. You cannot expect to go on long expeditions, which for many people are most enjoyable experiences, without footing some or a considerable part of the bill. One factor I think you must ignore when you are considering going on an expedition is the loss of pay while you are away. If you start considering this you will soon talk yourself out of going.

Recoverable Expenses

When you return to this country you may want to recover some of the money you have laid out. There are many ways you can go about doing this. If you have very good photographs and a literary bent amongst you, you may be able to get an article into one of the relevant magazines. Most of the national magazines and national press pay very well for such items and sometimes will pay as much as £100 for a good picture. A slower means of recovering your money is lecturing. The favourite way of doing this is using slides and advertising yourself to the relevant societies, clubs and schools.


No matter how high the cost or how great the problems you have to overcome, I am sure that when you return from your expedition you will most certainly feel that it has been worth every penny that you had to lay out.

L Parsons

March 1967

Editor's Note

The author, whose home was until recently near Bridgwater, was a leading member of the Kunjan Expedition which comprised four members of the Yeti Climbing Club who in June 1966 travelled 4000 miles overland to Afghanistan to climb in the Hindu Kush range. During their trip, which lasted three months, they attempted a 20,000 foot peak in the Pagar Valley and succeeded in conquering a subsidiary summit of Mir Samir, 19,800 feet.


Review: Lancaster Hole and the Ease Gill Caverns

Cave Research Group Transactions, Volume 9, Number 2 (March 1967)

Available at 25/- from BM Ellis, Knockauns, Combwich, Bridgwater, Somerset

This is probably the finest publication of the 140 or so that have been produced by the Cave Research Group so far. The presentation is excellent and there are numerous diagrams and photographs to illustrate the sixty pages of text. Then at the back of the volume there is a survey of the system at a scale of 130 feet to the inch. The bulk of the text, about 35,000 words or seventy pages of this journal, are taken up with a detailed description of the system and all its many ramifications. I do not know the cave well enough to criticise the accuracy of this description but I found it easy to read and it appeared to be as clear to follow as can be expected – much better than some others that have been published. The remainder of the text deals with the origin and development of Ease Gill caverns, on the hydrology of Montague Cavern West, and on the making of the survey. There is also a very brief history of the exploration, a bibliography and an index of the grid references of passages and chambers. Personally I would have liked to have seen a more detailed history and the bibliography was shorter than I would have expected, but you can't have everything.

Although this is more expensive than the earlier CRG publications describing caves (e.g. Agen Allwedd, OFD) it is better written, better produced and altogether is considered to be good value for money. If you consider yourself a caver and do not already have a copy – go and buy yourself one right away.


A New Survey of Holwell Cavern


This new survey of Holwell Cavern, at Merridge near Bridgwater, has been made, and this report is prepared, as far as possible in accordance with the recommendations of the Cave Research Group (1) and the Mendip Cave Survey colloquium of August 1963 (2). The recommendations of the latter have been followed only where they are additional to, and not at variance with, the former. The excellent example set by WI Stanton with his survey of Swildons Hole (3) and its explanatory article (4) have been followed wherever possible.

Two earlier published surveys of the cave are known. In 1923 CDF Long prepared a survey, on his own, and this was published by the Mendip Nature Research Committee (5) in 1932 with a short note on the survey. The cave was again surveyed by TC Bryant, AR Griffin and BM Scott between 1955 and 1958. Copies of this survey (6) are still available as a separate sheet through the Mendip Cave Survey scheme (7). In 1960 an article by Bryant et al appeared in the Wessex Cave Club Journal (8) that describes the cave and gives a few details on the survey.

In 1964 a relatively large extension was found to the east of the remainder of the cave and this was surveyed by BM Ellis and WN Tolfree. It was originally intended to publish this survey in a form that could be added directly to Bryant's survey but although a CRG grading of 6 was claimed for the earlier survey, a large discrepancy was found both in the direction of the Main Passage leading to Andrew Crosse's Chamber and in the direction and shape of the passages leading to the discoveries. Because of this the survey of the East Series was published independently of the other (9). Shortly afterwards a further extension to the East Series was opened up and this extension was again surveyed by Ellis and Tolfree and published as an addendum to the other (10).

As the survey by Bryant now showed only about half of the known cave, it required redrawing to include the recent extensions of the East Series. But as errors had already come to light in his survey it was thought better to re-survey the remainder of the cave. This would have to be done at a better grade than the 6 claimed by Bryant and so the new grading of 6sD was chosen, not without some trepidation in view of the surveying conditions to be found in the cave. Bryant's article (8) is informative except in giving details of how the survey was made, closure errors and other details of the survey. A CRG grading of 6 is claimed but the present author has been informed verbally that Bryant's survey was made using a modified astro-compass as a theodolite. The accuracy of this statement is not known but the accuracy of a survey made using such an instrument is equivalent only to a grading of 4 (see (2)). A comparison of the earlier survey with the present one, and assuming the latter to be reasonably accurate as shown by the closure errors, shows typical divergence of passage direction such as will be found when inaccurately traversing with a theodolite; this adds weight to the probability that an inaccurate theodolite was used.

Instruments Used

The present survey should be considered as two separate surveys; that of the East Series, and that of the remainder of the cave.

i) The East Series. Hand-held instruments were used; a liquid-filled prismatic marching compass and an Abney Level (both ex-WD), both of which had been calibrated. Angles were measured to 0.5° in each case. Distances were measured using a "Fibron" tape marked and read to 0.05 feet, and off-sets were measured with ten feet long steel tapes. Surveying was carried out by using the 'leap-frogging' technique (i.e. measurements were taken from alternate stations) and as tripods were not used extra care was taken to minimise station position errors. Passage detail was measured and sketched in the cave at least at every survey station. When the survey had been completed a copy as it had been first drawn was taken into the cave and passage details checked. A Cave Research Group grading of 5D is claimed for this part of the cave, except for a few places which were sketched at grade 3B; these are marked on the large scale drawing. A small area of this series was shown as grade 4 when this part of the survey was published previously (9); this has not been marked separately on the present plan. A clinometer was not used for the survey of these two passages so theoretically the correct grading is 4D but as the passages are so near to horizontal it is thought to be as accurate as the remainder. This survey was carried out in May and June 1964, and the extension in July 1965, by BM Ellis and WN Tolfree.

ii) The Main Cave and Lower Series. The same instruments were used for this part of the survey as for the East Series but they were mounted as a single unit in a manner similar to that described by the author in an earlier journal of this club (11). The instruments and target lamp were tripod mounted, and forward and back readings were taken on all legs. Distances were also measured twice as a check, and all back readings were made by a different person from the one taking the forward reading. The compass was checked before each surveying trip by sighting between field junctions above the cave, and the bearings compared with those obtained from the Ordnance Survey 1/2500 plan. The point from which these checks were made was itself checked to ensure that there was no local anomalies in the magnetic field. The Abney Level was checked for zero alignment every time it was used as forward and back readings were taken on each leg. Both instruments had previously been checked for scale errors The "Fibron" tape was checked along its length with a steel tape. Horizontal and vertical angles were measured to 0.5° and distances to 0.05 feet. A CRG grade of 6sD is claimed for the main part of this survey though a few feet of the minor side passages have only been sketched at grades 2 or 3; these are marked on the survey. The measurements were taken between July 1966 and March 1967 by BM Ellis, WN Tolfree and MT Mills, with assistance on occasions from T Prior, RL Biddle and RJ Dunster.

The height above Ordnance Datum of the prime survey point at the cave entrance was found by levelling to a nearby benchmark with a Dumpy Level and staff. Unfortunately after going to all this trouble it was found that the benchmark had been obliterated and so the height can only be given as about plus or minus a foot of the quoted figure.

Traverse Closures and Errors

In a cave such as Holwell with several connecting passages there are bound to be numerous closed traverses. For a variety of reasons, principally idleness and bad surveying technique, only three traverses have been properly closed; these are all in the main cave:

Traverse 1: Alternative routes, high and low, from Main Passage into Andrew Crosse's Chamber.

Traverse 2: Main entrance, Bung Hole, Tuppeny Tube, Tradesman's Entrance, Main Entrance.

Traverse 3: The shortest route inside the cave between the Main and Tradesman's entrances.

The errors on each of these traverses was distributed along that part of their length that does not lie in Main Passage.

In addition to those three traverses, a further two were closed approximately:

Traverse 4: From the main entrance to the East entrance by the shortest route in the East Series.

Traverse 5: From near the Main Passage, down the Bung Hole and through the Lower Series to the light connection with the Main Series.

Traverse 4 could not be closed properly as a permanent survey station had not been marked in the East series and the through route was not possible until twelve months after the first part had been surveyed. It is hoped that this large error is due to incorrectly picking up the survey stations. Traverse 5 could not be closed properly as it was not found possible to find a line of sight between the two series from a position where it was possible to read the instruments.

It had been hoped to obtain better closure errors than these but it is considered that these are quite satisfactory. Their higher than expected values can perhaps be explained by the relatively short traverses, the very short average leg lengths, and the very difficult surveying conditions round in about 75% of the cave.

As points of interest, the instrument readings in the cave involved just over one hundred man hours, and the slowest trip was twenty eight feet in three hours. The time taken outside of the cave is not known but is estimated to have taken between a further one and two hundred man hours.

Calculations and Plotting

An average of the forward and back readings was used and these were taken to the nearest 0.5° and 0.05 feet. When necessary the averages were rounded off alternately up and down to those limits. Measurements of distance, forward and back, agreed to 0.05 feet in all cases, clinometer readings to 1°, and compass readings to 2°.

The coordinates of all 114 survey stations were calculated using four figure tables and a calculating machine; all were checked by repeat working. Closure errors were distributed proportional to the slope distance between stations. The positions of the survey stations were first plotted on a carefully hand drawn grid on cartridge paper at a scale of 1/96 (eight feet to one inch) and a fair copy made on Ethulon plastic tracing material after checking passage detail in the cave. This drawing was then reduced to the final scale.

All of the survey and calculation sheets have been bound together and deposited in the club library. At some future date it is intended that they should be transferred to the Central Caving Collection at Bristol Reference Library. They are available for anyone wishing to check my figures – and the best of luck to them!

Comparison With Earlier Surveys

The major passages of the main cave, as depicted by both Long and Bryant, are shown at a scale of 1/300 on the following page. Opposite these two plans will be found a simplified drawing of the plan just completed. Ignoring the minor variations of passage and chamber shape, it will be seen that the present plan agrees better with that by Long than with the other but that there are considerable differences. It has also been necessary to change the direction of north given by Bryant by approximately 18° to the east. (This figure, and close examination of Bryant's plan, lead one to suppose that true north was marked to the west of magnetic north instead of to the east.)

Bryant quotes (8) a length for the cave of 690 feet at the time of his survey. The present survey has given the following lengths:

Main Series 760 feet

East Series 715 feet

Lower Series 190 feet

Total passage length 1665 feet

There are bound to be discrepancies in quoted lengths of caves and the figures given here include numerous very small side 'passages', many of them only sketched.

Permanent Survey Stations

As mentioned earlier, no permanent stations were marked in the East Series. With the exception of station 28, those listed have been marked by means of a 3/8 inch diameter hole about 1/4 inch deep.

Availability of Survey

Copies of the plan, sections and cross-sections will be available through the cave survey scheme (7) from the autumn of 1967. It is expected that the final sheet will be at a scale of 1/120 (ten feet to one inch), and that the price will be approximately 3/6.

Figure 1 – Simplified Survey of Major Passages of Holwell Cavern, Long (5)

Figure 1 – Simplified Survey of Major Passages of Holwell Cavern, Long (5)

Figure 2 – Simplified Survey of Major Passages of Holwell Cavern, Bryant (6)

Figure 2 – Simplified Survey of Major Passages of Holwell Cavern, Bryant (6)



The assistance given by those mentioned earlier in the text is gratefully acknowledged, as is that given by the owner of the land who willingly allowed us to visit the cave. Without this help the making of the survey would not have been possible.


  1. Butcher AL and Railton CL – Cave Surveying. Cave Research Group Transactions, 8, (2). (June 1966).
  2. Mendip Cave Survey Colloquium – Report of Meeting, 31st August 1963.
  3. Stanton WI – Survey of Swildons Hole Cavern. Separate sheet. 1965.
  4. Stanton WI – Notes on the 1965 edition of the Swildons Hole Survey. Wessex CC Journal 8, (102), 291. (July 1965).
  5. Pryor A – Holwell Cavern. Mendip Nature Research Committee Report (25), 46. (1932). With survey by CDF Long.
  6. Bryant, TC et al – Survey of Holwell Cavern. Separate sheet. 1958.
  7. Copies of surveys published as separate sheets are available from BM Ellis, Knockauns, Combwich, Bridgwater, Somerset.
  8. Bryant, T.C., et al – Holwell Cavern, Quantock. WCC Journal 6, (76), 54. March 1960).
  9. Ellis BM – East Series, Holwell Cave. SMCC Journal. 3, (8), 7. (November 1964).
  10. Ellis BM – East Series Extension, Holwell Cave. SMCC Journal 3, (10), 17. (November 1965).
  11. Ellis BM – A Mounting for Cave Survey Instruments. SMCC Journal 3, (10), 3. (November 1965).

Figure 3 – Simplified Survey of Holwell CavernFigure 3 – Simplified Survey of Holwell Cavern

BM Ellis

May 1967


Нүatt's Нill Сave Preliminary Report

The story of Hyatt's Hill goes back to 20th March 1966. For the first time in a number of weeks the sun was out and the obvious thing to do was to take advantage of it. Bob Craig asked me if I would like to join him on a ramble somewhere in the East Mendip area with a view to looking for likely swallets, depressions, etc. He parked the car somewhere near St. Dunstan's Well and started wandering up the valleys, towards Stoke St. Michael. About seven hundred yards from the village we were on the point of turning back, somewhat disappointed, when I happened to notice a small disused quarry with what appeared to be a small hole half-way along the main wall. On closer inspection we found that it was definitely a cave of a sort; in fact it appeared to be a collapse of boulders in the 'master joint'. The cave was about four feet high and three feet wide at the entrance, and extended ten feet horizontally; there was a short, narrow passage off to the left. We looked about for a bit but the only light we had was of the cigarette type so we left it for the time being.

The next weekend permission was obtained from the farmer to dig, and to use explosives if necessary. Effort then went into removing as much loose rubble as possible from the floor and widening the entrance. The digging was fairly easy and we were able to drop the floor by a good two feet, thus enabling us to stand and work. Three or four weeks saw the end of the easy work and it soon became apparent that chemical persuasion would be needed if we were to get any further.

On the 17th May, Mike Thompson and Jim Hanwell put half a pound of 'bang' on the boulders at the end of the cave and let it rip. After the fumes had cleared, and we were able to get back in, a small bedding plane could be seen going down to the right at about 30°. Unfortunately this closed down very swiftly and we were back to hacking away at the floor. At this point interest waned and any work put into the cave was rather a hit or miss effort.

After some weeks this paid off; one evening I took a lump hammer and chisel with me and out of sheer frustration started to bash the hell out of a lump of rock close to where Mike had "banged". Whereupon, having twice crunched my fingers and uttered many curses, the rock fell in half. It had split vertically but both pieces were too heavy for me to lift out. Full of hope, I persuaded Phil Romford to come across with me on the next weekend and between us we moved the rocks out of the way. Below, leading off to the left, was a hole about one foot in diameter. I poked my head in and saw a narrow shaft disappearing out of sight. It was impossible for us to do any more at that moment so we just had to wait until we could get some more explosive.

When we told our story in the club hut, and mentioned that we actually had a small hole with a pitch below it, interest improved no end. The next weekend, 25th September, Martin Mills, Phil Romford, Bob Craig, Bill Tolfree (with the necessary) and myself, made our way over to the cave and set the first charge. Most of the boulders in this cave are 'big uns'; this one took four pounds of Gelatex, split into six charges, before it gave up the ghost. It took us the best part of the next Sunday afternoon to clear out the pieces and make the head of the pitch reasonably safe.

From here on quite a number of people descended this small pitch (around fifteen feet deep) and everyone brought back a lump of mud or a rock or two. On close inspection it could be seen that the way on would again be downwards as stones could be dropped through the floor of a small chamber situated to the right of the bottom of the pitch. Here again, the way the boulders were stacked did not encourage one to disturb them by hand. This time Fred Davies obliged and on Sunday, 22nd January 1967 a pound of gelignite was placed where it would do most damage. On the Tuesday following, Phil and I went back, finding that we had another small pitch on our hands. Unfortunately there was still not enough room to get through.

That phase virtually concluded the first year's work in the cave. 19th March saw us put another pound of 'bang' in; the results were quite good. The only trouble was that the shattered rock was filling the way on and not enough time was left to clear it all away. Although there is now a reasonable draught we could not see the way on. During the digging sessions a number of bats have been seen in the cave, mainly Lesser Horseshoes.

R Haskett

April 1967

Editor's Note

Since the completion of this article, further work has revealed a rift descending almost vertically. It has been reported that the rift is wide enough to admit a caver of average proportions and descends as far as one can see; at least thirty feet deep. Unfortunately nobody has yet entered the rift because the top is blocked with boulders. It is hoped that further chemical assistance will soon remove these obstructions.


Review: Studies in Speleology

Volume 1: Part 1 (1963), Part 2/3 (1964/5), Part 4 (1966)

Published by the Association of the Pengelly Cave Research Centre at 25/- per part. Available from BM Ellis, Knockauns, Combwich, Bridgwater, Somerset.

For those not familiar with this journal it would be as well to start by stating that it is very different from most others. Not only is it a member of the very small group that are produced by letterpress printing but also its editorial policy is different. The contents consist of informed articles on all aspects of speleology, in particular review articles, but normally excluding descriptions of caving activities and highly specialised articles that can only be understood by other specialists. The special emphasis is on cave studies and cave conservation, an aim that agrees with those of the Pengelly Centre. A quarter of the thirty articles that have appeared in the first volume are on these two topics, another quarter is on cave biology.

Anyone interested in speleology, as distinct from caving, will find the majority of the articles interesting and informative but if your interests are not principally biology or conservation, this emphasis may be found to be rather heavy. The range of subjects covered also means that one is unlikely to find more than a few articles of exceptional interest. It is recommended that you should borrow a copy to read but whether or not you purchase your own copy must be your decision. The standard of production is excellent, the journalism is generally good, but twenty-five shillings for 75–80 pages of a journal that will probably only be read once and then put on the bookshelf is rather high – even if necessarily so.


Publications of the Shepton Mallet Caving Club


Published every other month. Available to members only.


Series One & Two. (1954–1960). Originally available to members only, they have now been republished in one volume. With index. Price: 5/-

Series Three. Published May and November, 1961–1965.

  • Nos. 1–5 (1961–3). In one volume, with index. (Swildons - Shatter Passage, Trouble Series, Exploration of Six, Sump Three, etc; Irish Caves; Bottlehead Slocker; Water Tracing; Grapajama, etc.) Price: 7/-
  • No. 7 (May 1964). (Stream End Caverns, Mossdale; Trafalgar Aven, St Cuthberts; Cheddar Cliff Cave) Price: 2/-
  • No. 9 (May 1965). (Blue Pencil Aven, Swildons; Predjama – Cave Diving) Price: 2/-
  • Nos. 6, 8 & 10 Out of print

Series Four. Published June and December, from 1966.

  • No. 1 (June 1966). (St Catherines 2, Ireland; Lost Johns Extension; N Wales Caves; Survey of Cefn ). Price: 2/-
  • No. 2 (December 1966). (Lundy Caves; Paignton Zoo Caves; Errors in Cave Surveying.) Price: 2/-
  • No. 3 (June 1967). Price: 2/-

Occasional Publications

  • No. 1 "Ireland 1959" Out of print
  • No. 2 "Caving in North Wales" Out of print
  • No. 3 "A Bibliography for the North Wales Caving Area" Price: 3/-

Copies of all available publications may be obtained from either:

Hon. Editor: RD Craig, 31 Cranbrook Road, Redland, Bristol 6, or

BM Ellis, Knockauns, Combwich, Bridgwater, Somerset.

Prices do not include postage: please add a suitable sum to cover cost.



 Journal Series 04 Number 3