Journal Series 4 Number 6

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.



The Problems of Foul Air in Digging and Cave Rescue by RD Craig

Lundy 68 by MT Mills

The Mendip Floods of 10th/11th July 1968 by RD Craig

Fairy Cave Quarry by AJ Butcher

St. Catherines 2 (Downstream Section) by RD Craig


Published by the Shepton Mallet Caving Club

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



Although caving is by no means a "fair weather sport" it is inevitable that major expeditions take place in the summer. Thus the December issue of a bi-annual journal such as this can fairly be expected to be thicker than its June counterpart. In the case of this issue, two articles relate to work done on such expeditions. One of these is the third of a succession of accounts of visits to Lundy Island by Martin Mills and contains a huge amount of data. The other, by Bob Craig, reports work carried out jointly by members of the Sheffield University Speleological Society and the Wessex Cave Club as well as the Shepton. Despite the bulk of this issue we feel that there must be many similar trips whose value is largely being lost because they are not written up, the results being handed on by word of mouth, if at all. So let's have your writings, chaps; an expedition is not just a few quick trips and a booze up!

Of the remaining articles, one describes a piece of equipment which has been evolved by Bob Craig and which he believes to be original. We hope to be able to publish results of trials of this device in a subsequent issue. Alan Butcher's article on Fairy Cave Quarry is a "state-of-the-art" survey, very necessary in an area where conditions can change so rapidly.

The Mendip floods of last July have, not unnaturally, led to a contribution. Bob Craig has found a problem here, however, in collecting data from a wide area in a short time. It is possible that some of the "facts" and figures he has been given may be incorrect; we shall be glad to publish an erratum if any such are pointed out.


The Problems of Foul Air in Digging and Cave Rescue
A Possible Solution


The presence of excessive carbon dioxide may complicate work and cause illness, even death, during digging or cave rescue. A simple and inexpensive equipment to make fresh air available to a caver is described.

In recent years there has been growing interest in solving the problems of foul air. Since Neil Moss's death cavers are becoming more aware of the very real danger which exists. Digs in some caves seem to have been plagued with bad air. A notable example is Lamb Leer, where one dig is being forced by explosives because the air deteriorates so rapidly that no useful work can be undertaken by conventional digging.

Many cavers have suffered carbon dioxide poisoning to a greater or lesser extent, but few, if any, have suffered serious effects in the Mendip area. Carbon dioxide reduces the volume of oxygen in the air by replacing it. A concentration of, say, 10% would reduce the oxygen content by about half. Very high concentrations may be achieved in low-lying pockets since carbon dioxide is denser than air.

The symptoms of carbon dioxide poisoning are heavy breathing, even under light exertion, followed by a severe headache. As the concentration or the exposure time increases, nausea and vomiting may result and the patient may complain of dizziness and have a desire to go to sleep, whilst breathing may become shallow. At higher concentrations, unconsciousness and ultimately death result. The patient does not necessarily improve immediately on removal from the bad air and retching may continue for several hours.

Many suggestions for freshening foul air have been put forward but most are expensive, involving bulky equipment by cave standards, and the effectiveness of some is dubious. One method involved introducing pure oxygen from a pressurised bottle. Whilst this undoubtedly increases the percentage of oxygen, the carbon dioxide content remains sensibly the same, still giving rise to unpleasant effects, and other poisonous gases (e.g. phosgene from carbide lamps) still remain. Oxygen or air with a breathing set could be used but for digging the cost is prohibitive and such a set may be too unwieldy to use for cave rescue where the victim is likely to be stuck in an inaccessible squeeze. Evacuating foul air so that fresh air rushes back to replace it is another possibility, but a vacuum pump with a power supply is needed and this is difficult to arrange for some remote part of a cave and whether or not it would be efficient is not known. Soda-lime is very popular, but is very messy when spread about and unless air actually passes through it, the beneficial effects are mainly psychological. It can be used in a gas mask, but at 10% initial carbon dioxide content, a mixture of 80 parts nitrogen and 10 parts oxygen is left, this still being low in oxygen.

The methods outlined above involve removing the foul air, introducing oxygen, or purifying the air. In practically all caves, almost without exception, there is, near at hand, air which is low enough in carbon dioxide to be breathed comfortably. Why not bring the fresh air to the trapped caver or diggers rather than attempt to replace the air they are using up? In the apparatus shown opposite, available air is used, and although this design could be improved somewhat, the method offers a cheap and efficient way of supplying air to cavers working in foul air or to a trapped caver.

Basically the apparatus consists of a flexible rubber hose (length and diameter depend upon the proximity of good air, a bore of 1½ inches being expected to be suitable for a length of 30 feet), connected to a small soda-lime tube (100 ml capacity would be adequate). To this is connected the face mask which incorporates a demand diaphragm type valve and an exhaust diaphragm valve. Moulded rubber forms the face seal and an elasticated strap ensures that the mask fits securely. The soda-lime tube is probably not essential if the demand diaphragm is efficient and in any case the soda-lime should be omitted for an unconscious subject because lack of carbon dioxide depresses breathing. The receiving end of the flexible tube should be securely fixed near the roof in the nearest fresh air. If it is left on the floor the end is liable to enter a puddle or become blocked with mud. In any case the air is better near the roof of a passage.

The flexible tube should provide reasonable freedom of movement for anyone wishing to work in foul air, and the face mask can be fitted to an unconscious trapped caver. The apparatus is easy to manufacture, the face mask being identical in design to that of many dust respirators on the market at present, which could easily be modified for attachment to the soda-lime container or direct to the flexible tube.

Figure 1 – Available Air Respirator

RD Craig

October, 1968


Lundy 68


The third visit to Lundy Island by MT Mills and WN Tolfree has enabled many outstanding points to be cleared up and has resulted in five new surveys including one showing the positions of all known caves on the island.

For the third successive year Bill Tolfree and myself again visited this island for one week during May and June of this year. The following is an account of our findings and is necessarily complementary to two previous reports in this Journal – 4 (2), pp 3-9 (December, 1966) and 4 (4), pp 3-30 (December, 1967). This report includes additional surveys, a map of the island showing its geology and the positions of the features investigated during the last three years, and includes this year's findings being caves and features located and explored, sites revisited, literary references and further comments concerning both these caves and features explored this year and on previous occasions.

Figure 2 – Caves of Lundy

Benson's Cave

Mr FW Gade, who is the resident agent on the island and incidentally has been so since 1926, has pointed out in correspondence with me that a workman employed on the island between 1925 and 1938 had told him that when employed by Trinity House in building the stairway from the South Lighthouse to the Landing Beach, it was still possible at that time to cross to Lametor on grass descending from Benson's Cave by a flight of wooden steps with a handrail. Mr Gade would expect that this route from the Landing Beach to the Castle was the route preferred even if goods had to be carried, to the longer and almost as steep route up to what is now known as the battlements on the Beach Road, and then up the path leading to the Castle past the cottage now known as Hanmers. The presence of a cave close to the staircase would be very convenient for storage purposes to say the least.

In addition Mr Gade states that it has been authenticated that donkeys were stabled in the cave as recently as last century, and adds that before the building of the beach road by Mr Heaven he expects that everybody living on Lundy would keep at least one donkey, and those people who lived in the cottages which were built within the Castle Keep would very likely have stabled their donkeys in Benson's Cave.

Reference (31) recounts the archaeological excavations carried out in the cave in the summer of 1966, as mentioned in last year's article, and suggests that the cave was excavated by Bushell. (33) is a similar account to the foregoing, but the report of the excavations has been categorised under Military and Naval Earthworks and Buildings. (34) mentions the cave and states that it was probably put to some purpose by him, but is of much earlier date than this. (35), which has been re published almost word for word in (39), also mentions Benson's Cave and Benson's activities as a smuggler. (36) also mentions the cave, though not by name, as being beneath the Marisco Castle. (37) p679 mentions the cave and Benson's fortune as supposed to be hidden there, whilst p684 shows a black and white photograph of an external view of the entrance. (41) p218 describes the cave and Benson's activities, whilst (43) mentions the cave under the sub-heading of "Smugglers' Caves", and Benson's activities of scuttling ships.

(44), pp68-9 does not contain any specific mention of the cave, but is an authoritative account of the life of Thomas Bushell, and states that by the reign of Charles I the Marisco Castle was in ruins. Bushell refortified and probably remodelled the castle, and indeed according to Lord Bath he rebuilt it from the ground fit for any noble person to inhabit. Towards the end of the Civil War the Royalist cause collapsed, Bushell retreated to Lundy and maintained there a garrison of twenty men for a couple of years successfully resisting all attempts to storm the place – this further increased his indebtedness and he later estimated his total expenses in rebuilding the castle and maintaining the garrison at £5,570. One wonders if Benson's Cave was constructed by Bushell, as seems probable, and how much of this large sum was attributable to the construction of the cave, always assuming the cave was constructed by Bushell at that time and included in the above sum as part of the costs of rebuilding the castle.

Finally, (46) states that the caves on Lundy will be examined at a future date in detail, and includes Benson's Cave in one of four categories being an artificial cave in the Upper Devonian Shales.

Cave Adjoining Lametry Beach

Mr Gade has kindly pointed out that on p18 of last year's article, mention of this cave as being formed in granite is incorrect. The cave must be in shale as the junction of the granite and the shale is beneath the feature known as Benjamin's Chair.

Just prior to our departure from the island, Bill revisited this cave to find that it was in shale with a basalt dyke forming the archway to the entrance, as I had promised Mr Gade that we would revisit this item to confirm whether or not it was in granite.

Cave Between Tibbetts And Gull Rock

Further to the report concerning this item in last year's article, a thorough search of this area was made and an opening, which is probably a mine adit, was found in the zawn north of the promontory between Tibbett's and Gull Rock. Despite an extensive search to the south no sign was found of any opening in this direction.

The adit located was about 40 feet above a rock platform skirting the base of the cliffs at this point, and right in the apex of the zawn. The opening looked to be about 6 feet wide and 4 feet high and in a dyke of matrix infill, covered in grass, moss and lichen. An attempt to climb the steep wall below was curtailed approaching 20 feet above the ground when no running belays could be arranged and nerves were frayed following climbing the lower part – a small streamlet gently flowing over an overhang above and discharging itself over not only oneself but also the grass etc. one was climbing only added to the pleasantness of the approach!

We hope to make an attempt next year to enter the adit by laddering down to it from above, which appears to be a more pleasant and likely approach.

Reference (46) appears to mention this feature, and as pointed out in last year's article the existence of this opening was originally brought to my notice by Mr Gardner, the author of this reference. The opening is mentioned as an unrecorded hole high up in a granite fissure which was pointed out by a man who entered it some fifty years ago and it would seem to be either a mine or some secret store-place.

Caves Adjoining Devil's Chimney

During our visit we did endeavour to investigate a cave north of Needle Rock on the west coast, and mentioned in last year's article, as we had heard seal-like bellows coming from an opening in this vicinity. We descended the cliffs at Needle Rock and skirted the base of the cliffs northwards, but were prevented from going beyond Devil's Chimney by the incoming tide.

The Devil's Chimney is a shattered granite stack standing clear of the surrounding cliffs and some 150 feet high. There is a cave beneath and through the base of the stack running approximately north-south and perhaps 60-80 feet long. The floor is of pebbles, and the cross section of the passage triangular, variously extended upwards to a height of from 10 to 40 feet, being a rift passing up through the stack, with chockstones bridging it and eyeholes to the open sky above. The southern and upper entrance of the two is, from within the cave, a 10 feet climb up over large boulders.

To the east of the Devil's Chimney is a further sea cave in the granite of the main cliff. The accompanying survey shows the relevant details, though the survey in the cave had to be rather hurried due to the incoming tide, and in fact as we left the cave the tide was already flowing into the pool at the entrance. After leaving the cave we had to scale the cliffs, it being impossible to return via Needle Rock as we were now cut off from this by the tide.

Figure 3 – Survey of Cave Adjoining Devil's Chimney

Caves In The Region Of Flying Buttress

While climbing on some granite blocks on a headland known as Dead Cow Point, and being the first headland north of the Quarter Wall on the west coast, we noted two caves inland of the Flying Buttress which itself forms the extreme western end of the first headland south of the Quarter Wall.

Descending this headland, south of the actual Flying Buttress, and traversing the base of the mainland cliff below the Buttress we were able to gain the north face of the headland, and so to view the caves from closer than previously.

The first or western cave has an entrance about 24 feet wide, 40-45 feet high and runs at a bearing of 175 degrees when viewed from the north in through the entrance. The cave is in a dyke of basalt which has been eroded away. It appears to go in for at least 150 feet, however high water did not permit us to enter the cave and the walls of the entrance could not be traversed. The entrance is about 200 feet north of the north face of the Buttress and 100 feet east of the mainland face to which the Buttress abuts.

The second cave is parallel to the above, about a further 100 feet east and inland of the same cave, the entrance again on the north face of the headland and when viewed from Dead Cow Point this cave appears to run under the Battery. We were unable to descend to the base of the cliffs to even look into the entrance, which has been formed in another dyke of basalt that has been eroded away.

When viewing Dead Cow Point from above the Flying Buttress we were surprised to see another cave running right through the headland perhaps 100 feet east of its seaward end. The far end of this cave could clearly be seen, bearing 009 degrees when viewed from the south. It would appear doubtful if access could be gained to this cave even at low tide, as the tide flows right through the cave. This cave has been annotated Cave 4 on the map of the island accompanying this report.

Copper Mine Above Rattles Anchorage

Following our unsuccessful attempt last year to locate this, whilst in the course of our visit to Seal's Hole I took the opportunity of viewing the area of the cliffs below Benjamin's Chair from this vantage point, and the entrances to two adits were visible.

Just prior to our departure from the island, Bill and I descended the cliff just to the east of Benjamin's Chair and were able to easily find the two entrances. The accompanying survey shows the relevant details of the two adits, which were in fact in the shales of the south-east corner of the island, and just east of the junction with the granite, and two-thirds of the way up the cliff from sea level.

No evidence of any vertical, warranting any erections over the same was found. Mention of such erections was made in some early references to the mine reported in last year's article.

Reference (41) p187 mentions few minerals present on the island, and attempts made to work copper at the junction of the slate and granite were curtailed as the quantity was too small to give much hope of profit. Similar mention of the trials for copper in the mine is made on p219 of the same work.

Figure 4 – Survey of Copper Mine above Rattle's Anchorage

Double-Decker Cave

A further search for this reported cave was made during our visit. We were able to descend to sea-level in the next inlet north of the Devil's Slide and then proceeded to skirt the base of the cliffs to both the north and south of this inlet, but no signs of a cave were found.

Obviously a further search will be necessary, but Mr Gade has commented that the upper deck is merely a recess in the cliff face and both this and the cave below are a favourite nesting place for guillemots. Meanwhile Mr A Langham, who is the Hon Secretary of the Lundy Field Society, thinks that his reference in his work on the island to the cave is possibly, in fact, to the copper mine adits at Long Ruse as reported in last year's article. Mr Langham's work is the earliest reference to this feature so far encountered, and in fact the only one encountered except (46). This latter reference concludes that archaeologically the most interesting caves on Lundy are the high-level caves of the Double-Decker Cave and Queen Mab's Grotto, which compare with the raised beaches of the Devon coast and the prolific cave sites on Gower to the north.

Seal's Hole

Following our unsuccessful attempts in the previous two years, and in particular our findings last year, we returned to the entrance of this cave again this year duly prepared.

Descending the cliff below the Rocket Pole we easily found our way down to a point close above the entrance. The same route of approach was followed as last year, the bottom of the cliff being reached by reversing a 60 feet V. Diff. rock climb – though this was made more difficult by the gear we were carrying.

Traversing the base of the cliff and taking the high level traverse along the left wall of the inlet leading to the entrance enabled us to view once again the problem – namely, water at least 12 feet deep and sheer rock walls. In contrast with last year's conditions we also had the disadvantage of a heavy ground sea which was sending waves at least 2 feet high into the entrance. The latter dissuaded us from using the rubber dinghy we had carried down the cliff with us.

Returning to level ground at the base of the climb used in the descent, Bill and I put on our wet-suits in preparation for the swim. Then with boots, helmets and Nife cells we both traversed back into position high on the left wall of the inlet. Here Dave and Keith Vickery who formed the active climbing half of our party of four, arranged a belay and life-lining position and prepared to act as our support party.

Then Bill tying himself to the end of an Ulstron rope and carrying the tape lowered himself down the wall of the inlet into the water. Fortunately at the point of entry chosen there were some small rocks below the surface upon which he was able to steady himself, up to the armpits in water, before setting off for the entrance, if not knocked in that direction by the first wave that came along.

One step towards the entrance and one shot out of depth and Bill was forced to swim the 30 yards into the entrance, where again below the surface of the water some rocks were found and after some inevitable stumbling a footing was achieved. Bill casting off the rope, I quickly followed in a similar manner carrying an ammo can containing the surveying instruments. A knot in the end of the rope was jammed in a crack in the rock wall thus securing the rope at our end in readiness for the return swim.

Moving round the corner out of sight of our support party and into the gloom of the cave interior, a few more steps in the water and we were walking over a soggy bed of seaweed several yards long, which had obviously accumulated over a long period, and was constantly changed in extent by the action of each successive wave as it swept into the entrance, and was cushioning the blows of the waves and preventing them penetrating further into the cave. Walking rather awkwardly on the uneven surface underfoot, and with the dark damp walls on either side and the roof high overhead, the floor sloped gently upwards having changed from seaweed to small pebbles and shingle.

A few yards further on we passed below a large jammed boulder in the roof, this together with the irregularities of the walls and the roof ever decreasing in height intensifying the gloom, and at the next turn in the passage we were completely cut off from any reflected light penetrating from the entrance. At this point we stopped and found the floor to change to sand; this was slightly rivuleted by seepage water which was gently flowing down the sand floor. In addition there were curious cross-serrations in the sand. Pausing to consider these we quickly came to the conclusion that they were caused by the flipper actions of seals passing along the passage.

This suddenly brought back to us the realisation that this was Seal's Hole, which we had forgotten during the involvements of swimming into the entrance and had rather taken this as just another sea cave. Moving forward into the cave following the carpet of cross-serrations in the sand, within a few yards we were engulfed in an unpleasant odour. Before even being able to attribute this to the habitation of the seals, we were paralysed by the loud roars of a seal.

It was probably a good minute or so after the roar that we were able to brace ourselves to proceed further into the cave – though at greatly reduced speed and cautiously searching out each recess with our lights for the seals we expected to pounce on us.

As we proceeded a few more roars were uttered and after a couple more turns of passage still with a sandy floor, the roof which was down to 12 to 20 feet lifted, and we had the feeling that we were on the edge of a large chamber. With our lights we were trying to penetrate the darkness of this chamber, when in the path of our lights could be seen a moving white patch – a young seal pup. This pup appeared to be lying on some rocks, but other occasional roars indicated that there were other seals inside. Suddenly and unexpectedly one of the rocks in front of the pup moved, rolled over towards us and then commenced to lurch towards us down the chamber. Focussing our lights on this black bulk in the darkness revealed only two bright shining orbs, which rose and fell in harmony with the noise of a body moving over rocks and sand, and grew gradually larger.

At this point both of us were seized with an insatiable desire to return to the company of our two colleagues at the entrance, exchanging only two words, "Seal ... Run!"

I have little recollection of which of us was in the lead as we ran back towards the entrance, however I was the first to reach a ledge up on the wall just inside the entrance, which we had thoughtfully chosen, on entering the cave, as a possible point to which to retreat. On looking back into the cave at first I could not see Bill, but then I noticed a pair of waving legs sticking out from the top of the bed of seaweed just inside the entrance, and which had now been thrown up into a pile 4 feet or so deep by the force of the incoming waves. Just as our pursuer emerged into sight, Bill extricated himself from the mountain of seaweed and joined me on the ledge – having during his flight dropped the compass thus accounting for his apparent attempts at a headstand.

But seconds behind us was, 5 or 6 feet in length and weighing a hundredweight or two, the seal which looked up at us perched on our ledge as it passed beneath us, changing from its ungainly shifting / heaving movement on land to nosing into the water and waves and disappearing at speed.

It was some minutes before we could pluck up courage to climb down from our perch and venture into the cave again. For some not unknown reason our zest to explore the inner recesses of this cave had now disappeared, and amidst further roars from the depths of the cave we just could not bring ourselves to go back as far as the point reached last time.

We carried out a rapid survey of the nearer reaches of the cave, with frequent glances up passage to ensure that no more of the residents were departing, as an encounter with a couple of hundredweights of seal in a narrow passage was not exactly a relishing thought. Though the animals look curiously placid and gentle in the water, and are not generally supposed aggressive towards humans, they undoubtedly have powerful jaws and resented our trespass into their domain. Dressed as we were in a man-made material closely resembling seal-skin in both colour and texture, and fearing that perhaps it was the mating season, brought to mind visions of perhaps a sensational encounter with seals!

Thus we rapidly retreated to the entrance to find the bed of seaweed even more of a mountain under the buffeting of the waves. Deeper water in the entrance and larger waves coming in made standing on the rocks at the jumping-off point even more difficult. For the return journey we were hauled through the water on the end of the rope, as it would not have been easy to swim out through the entrance.

Once back with Dave and Keith we rapidly told our tale with feeling, expressing no particular desire to visit an inhabited cave again, and leaving the remainder of the surveying of Seal's Hole to braver mortals than we.

Reference (40) classifies "Seal Cave" as a "semi-show site". Semi inasmuch that although easily accessible (?) it is only partly exploited, and either a nominal admission charge is made (alternatively a small fee is levied for guide service) – or permission to enter is necessary. (41) pp219-220 describes Seal's Hole and the air of uncertainty in the cave due to the presence of seals. (42) contains extracts from (41) and repeats the details of Seal's Hole. (46) as previously mentioned states that the caves of Lundy will be examined at a future date in detail, and includes Seal's Hole in one of four categories being a sea cave in granite at present sea level.

Figure 5 – Survey of Seal's Hole

The Earthquake

A further visit was made to this feature at the point at which it is most noticeable, that is just north of the Quarter Wall, to search for chasms which have been reported to have depths of 100 feet.

The only feature of this depth located was a vast rift / chimney cleaved between a block leaning towards the sea on the edge of the cliff and the mainland. It was about 4 feet wide at the bottom and perhaps 8 feet wide at the top, and was bridged about half way down by a granite block.

Otherwise, all the inland rifts were probed and nowhere did they descend to more than 40 to 50 feet deep. The floor of the deepest was virtually level, of rocks and vegetation, and was the resting place of a sheep carcass.

Reference (41) pp224-5 describes The Earthquake and mentions a mighty slab fifty feet high and fifteen feet thick which leans outwards towards the cliff; this slab is that forming the vast rift / chimney noted above though we cannot agree with the height of this as stated. (41) also mentions the depths of various fissures as varying from 25 feet to 100 feet or more.

Sentinel's Cave

Mr Gade has pointed out to me, with reference to last year's article, that this cave has never had the alternative name of Devil's Kitchen, the mistake probably being due to the lettering on small scale maps. The Devil's Kitchen is that area to the south of Rat Island and bounded on the east by a range of diminishing shale stacks which terminate in Surf Point. With flowing tides and strong winds this area becomes a boiling pot (very appropriate phrase) with the waves sweeping back after breaking against Rat Island and the shale stacks.

When I pointed out to Mr Gade that both LTW Loyd, and PT Etherton and W Barlow in (1) and (2) respectively referred to the alternative name, and the positioning of the name on the 6 inch OS map (3) did not support his statement, he pointed out that Loyd and Etherton did not stay longer than six weeks and he does not think Barlow has ever visited the island. In addition he suspects that the OS surveyors were not correctly informed as to just where the Devil's Kitchen is situated. Both references (1) and (2) above date from 1925, since which time (35) and (41) mentioned below have come to light and date from 1911 and 1895 respectively. Both the latter refer to the cave by the name of the Devil's Kitchen and indeed no other alternative name to this is mentioned. The result of this is that if Mr Gade's statement is accepted, and through his residence on the island for the past 40 years or so he has not unnaturally become a considerable authority, these early references do at least show for how long the cave has been mis-named.

Reference (35), as mentioned above, mentions the cave by the name of the Devil's Kitchen only, and that it was once occupied by a bull seal. (39) repeats word for word the foregoing reference. (37) p675 mentions caves adjoining the Landing Beach though not by name and gives no details. (41) p202, as mentioned above, mentions the cave by the name of the Devil's Kitchen only, and that it is beneath Lametry and is occasionally used for the storage of goods to be taken away by boat. (47), which can best be described as a highly coloured account written for the popular press, states the cave as being at the rear of the Landing Beach, being used for storage and being called the Devil's Kitchen only.

Virgin's Spring And Subterranean Passage

Following our conclusion last year of probably having to employ siege tactics to enter this complex, on our last full day on the island Bill and I walked to the north end of the island carrying a vast assortment of gear (most of which was not used) intent on having a good try at surveying this system.

First stop was made at the North Lighthouse for a cup of coffee with the keepers, before descending the cliff to view the problem. The ground sea running at the north end of the island was even greater than that encountered during our trip into Seal's Hole, indeed our whole visit including some of the climbing was marred if not made more exciting by the condition of the sea. It was apparent at first sight that the use of the rubber dinghy was completely out.

Descending to water level firstly at the east end we found apart from the open passage going north-northwest through the headland, there was a further passage trending almost west from the same inlet. This latter passage was of similar size to the opening of the other, but access was not easy and the incoming waves made it impossible to get into the entrance at that time. However, knowing that it was not yet low tide, and that a slight dropping of the tide would permit access, we started surveying the open passage going NNW, determined to keep an eye on the other entrance so as to be able to take advantage of the tide when it got lower.

The remainder of the complex could not be entered, there being at least 6 feet to probably 30 feet or more of water in the various passages, whose size varied from 6 feet to 60 feet wide and 25 feet to 50 feet high. With the sea running as it was, we were limited to taking bearings and taping over the rocky headland between the eyeholes and entrances, and adjusting the inclined measurements to give horizontal distances. Much of the internal detail had to be estimated and the passage trending west from the second eyehole could only be estimated in length, as this could not be accurately checked by measurement over the headland above. The west end of this passage could be looked into only from the adjoining cliffs, but the parallel passage to the south could not. When plotted, the west end of the west trending passage from the east inlet was found to emerge on the other side of the headland, in the vicinity of the west end of the passage trending west from the second eyehole. It is therefore a conjectured connection that the former passage emerges in the inlet to the south at the west end, and is the one into which it was not possible to look.

Both the eyeholes were laddered from above, but were found to be less than half their estimated depth mentioned last year, being 55 feet and 45 feet deep to sea level, though variation in the state of the tide would obviously affect the depth considerably. Bill did an excellent job hanging on the ladder using a 'Beaudrier Alpin' and just out of reach of the waves, taking and noting compass bearings taken out through the various entrances. At his request I too descended the northern of the two eyeholes on the ladder to verify some estimated internal dimensions of the passages and confirm his own observations.

From the lower end of the ladder and about 8 feet above the waves one was able to look back up the ladder 30 feet to the eyehole, which although in solid granite had large granite fangs like dog-tooth spar crystals jutting down from around its lower edge. Roundabout, incessant waves were flowing in from four sides, lapping and breaking around the walls. Looking north-easterly through that entrance, the waves outside appeared higher than one's position on the ladder, and as they rolled in they appeared to be bearing down on to one. The moist spray-filled air and the dim light filtering in through the west end of the westerly trending passage only added to the majestic atmosphere of this pitch, which we both agreed was unique and probably the most exhilarating we have yet encountered. It took little imagination to realise how similar surroundings and such an experience inspired Mendelssohn to write his overture Fingal's Cave.

During the course of surveying the remainder of the complex, we returned to the east inlet and found that by climbing down a pocketed wall of the inlet we could alight on a large boulder in mid-stream, and between waves climb the wet and seaweed clad wall on the other side of the inlet to a ledge 10 feet or so above the waves. This ledge led towards the entrance of the passage trending westwards. Though slippery we traversed with care to the entrance and 10 feet of ladder was hung down the overhanging wall to enable us to climb down into the entrance just beyond the reach of the waves which broke amongst boulders.

Following this passage, which was the only one in the complex requiring a light, a little way along dim light ahead showed that the passage passed right through the headland to the other side. Traversing a pool of water part way through the passage led us out into daylight at the other end. In contrast with the remainder of the complex, apart from the sea flowing in at either end, the whole of the passage could be traversed on foot.

With regard to the Virgin's Spring or the fresh water spring supposed to exist in the complex, no sign of this was seen in the passage traversed on foot, and as to the remainder it could obviously hardly be detected in view of the tide and depth of water present. Mr Gade suggests that the spring is a romantic invention, and although many references report the feature, none appear to have in fact seen the spring which tends to confirm Mr Gade's suggestion.

As mentioned in last year's article, there would appear to be considerable variation in the quoted length of the passage, our survey reveals the total length of passage (ie. not open to the sky) to be about 740 feet. In view of our findings and survey, perhaps the Ordnance Survey notation of this feature should be amended to the plural, i.e. Virgin's Spring and Subterranean Passages.

That one can pass through part of the complex in a boat there is no doubt, though to what extent any part of the system is navigable depends on the state of the tide, the size and nature of the boat, and one's daring. Mr Gade informs me that on one occasion he passed through the system in a boat.

Reference (35) which is repeated almost word for word in (39) mentions the feature but not by name, when reference is made to a superb sea cave at the north end of the island with three entrances and which is explored by boat. (37) p683 mentions the feature by name as existing below the North Lighthouse, 60 feet high and 800 feet long, and can be passed through in a boat at high water. In addition there is a black and white photograph of the North Lighthouse, on which the east inlet opening is readily identifiable. (41) pp232-3 describes the feature by name as having five entrances and two large holes in the roof, length 200 feet, height 30 feet. This reference also mentions that the fresh water spring was tested by Mr Heaven, though the latter added that some blocks had recently fallen from the roof and may have dispersed the spring. (42) repeats these details, being extracts from (41). (46) includes the feature in one of four categories of caves on the island being a sea cave in granite at present sea level. The feature is referred to by name as Virgin's Spring only.

Figure 6 – Survey of Virgin's Spring and Subterranean Passage


In last year's article the map references shown on the surveys of The Needle's Eye, Cave 1, 2 and 3, and the Cave Adjacent Lametry Beach have the eastings inadvertently reversed before the northings.

Mr A Langham, the Hon. Secretary of the Lundy Field Society, has confirmed that PH Gosse was the author of references (8) to (15) being the items in "The Home Friend" – I had commented last year on the almost identical wording appearing in (22) and suggested that Gosse was perhaps the author of the former.

(35) and (39) which is an almost word for word repeat of the former reference, mentions exploring sea caves at the base of the Devil's Limekiln cliffs using a boat. (38) and (41) pp 189 and 200 mention in general terms the nature of the island's coasts and the existence of many sea caves. (41) p203 mentions Rat Island as being full of caves and fissures, and the existence of a cave running right through the island, length estimated at 300 feet, height 30 feet. (see account and survey in last year's article). (42) repeats these details being extracts from (41). (41) pp220-1 describes the Devil's Limekiln and mentions that the base of this used to be normally accessible from the north-westwards, though formerly also accessible from the south side of Shutter Rock, but this entrance is now blocked by great masses of rock (presumably this is the Lower Passage of our survey, to which we gained access through the boulders at the bottom of the Devil's Limekiln shaft, see this Jnl. 4, (2) pp5, 6, 9). Page 225 of the same reference suggests that the Devil's Limekiln was caused by the same agency as The Earthquake. (41) p238 describes Queen Mab's Grotto, though this feature is not named in the text, and states that the grotto has a hollow floor beneath which is a mythical treasure.

(45) mentions Queen Mab's Grotto also, and concludes that because it is so damp and cramped it could hardly have been used by Bushell as an ammunition store, as has been suggested, in connection at Brazen Ward during the Civil War. There is also a black and white photograph taken from inside the Grotto looking out through the entrance. (46) categorises the caves on the island into four types: (i) artificial caves in the upper Devonian shales, (ii) sea caves in granite at present sea level, (iii) sea caves in granite above present sea level, and (iv) artificial holes in granite. It concludes that archaeologically the most interesting caves on Lundy are the high level caves of the Double Decker Cave and Queen Mab’s Grotto, which compare with the raised beaches of the Devon coast and the prolific cave sites on Gower to the north. (47) and (48) are best described as a highly coloured account of adventures written for the popular press, the latter part concerning searching the caves at the base of the Devil's Limekiln for the supposed treasure of the Bristol Channel 17th century buccaneer, Capt. Robert Nutt, approaching the caves by canoe.


Supplementary to that published in last year's article, page numbers indicate references to caves, mines and other relevant features, etc.

  • (31) ANON – 17th Annual Report, Lundy Field Society (1965-6). (pub Feb 1968), pp 31, 32.
  • (33) ANON – Jnl of Post Medieval Archaeology, Vol 1 for 1967. pub The Society for Post Medieval Archaeology (London, 1968), p 108.
  • (34) CROSSING, W – Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries, Vol. 6, part 3, Folk Rhymes of Devon, pub. James G. Commin (Exeter, 1911), p 128.
  • (35) RHYS, E. – The South Wales Coast, pub. T Fisher Unwin (London, 1911), pp 178, 179.
  • (36) POWICKE, FM – The Murder of Henry Clement and The Pirates of Lundy Island, in History (the Quarterly Journal of the Historical Association), New Series, Vol. 25, No 100, pub. Macmillan & Co. Ltd. (London, March 1941), p 307.
  • (37) ETHERTON, PT – Lundy, Treasure Island of Birds, in the National Geographic Magazine, Vol. 91, No. 5, May 1947 (pub Washington) pp 675, 679, 683, 684.
  • (38) PERRY, R. – Five Months with Guillemots, in The Geographical Magazine, June 1944, pp 85, 90.
  • (39) – British Caver, Vol. 10, edited and pub. G. Platten (New Milton, Hants, 1943), pp 7, 9.
  • (40) STANIFORTH, RHA. – Show Sites in the British Isles, in The Bulletin of the South African Speleological Association, 1960, pt. ii, p 40.
  • (41) PAGE, JLW – The Coasts of Devon and Lundy Island, pub. Horace Cox (London, 1895), pp 187, 189, 200, 202, 203, 218, 219-221, 224, 225, 232-233, 238.
  • (42) – British Caver, Vol. 29, edited and pub. G. Platten (New Milton, Hants, 1958), p 61 (this is in fact page 62 mis-numbered).
  • (43) JENKINS, DW – The History and Folklore of British Caves, in CRG Trans. Vol. 3, No. 2, (December 1954), p 118.
  • (44) GOUGH, JW – The Superlative Prodigall, pub. for Univ. of Bristol by JW Arrowsmith Ltd. (Bristol, 1932).
  • (45) BOUQUET, M – A 17th Century Fort on Lundy, in Country Life, Vol. 135, No. 3493, Feb. 13th 1964, p 352.
  • (46) GARDNER, KS – Archaeological News, in Bel. Bul. No. 162, Vol. 15, No. 8, (August, 1961), pp 5-6.
  • (47) NOLAN, J – My Adventures on Lundy, part 1, in The Wide World Magazine, Vol. 77, No. 4, July 1936, pp 268 et seq.
  • (48) Ibid. part 2, in The Wide World Magazine, Vol. 77, No. 5, August 1936, pp 395-402.

MT Mills

October, 1968.


The Mendip Floods of 10th/11th July 1968


The flooding and damage to the caves of Mendip and the flooding of the surrounding countryside are described.

The first rain began at midday, but caused little alarm because it was only a typical summer thunderstorm. A party in Gough's Show Cave had to be escorted out quickly, but probably only as a safety measure. It appears that there were some cavers in Swildon's Hole at the time, and they returned to the surface at about 2pm with reports that the stream was steadily rising, but was not uncomfortably high. During the late afternoon another party of cavers asked Mr Maine for permission to enter Swildon's Hole. He refused, although the weather by this time was fine again.

About 6pm the sky looked very ominous with a line of black thunderclouds across the whole of the south-western horizon. At 7pm it was raining heavily, and later on with such force that visibility was cut to a few yards. The peak of the storm seems to have been reached about 9.30pm when the wind suddenly changed from easterly to westerly in direction. The rain started to ease at about 11pm but continued until 3am and was still very heavy.

Over the 24 hour period covered by the storm about 5 inches of rain probably fell on the high parts of the Mendips. During the height of the storm it is likely that the rain was falling at 2-3 inches an hour.

Of all the caves on the Mendips it is not surprising that Swildon's Hole was the worst affected. There are conflicting views on the greatest depth of the water at the entrance. After the storm, grass and straw hung in trees 6 feet above the top of the blockhouse. However, there was a line of seeds on the blockhouse 6 feet from the bottom. A strong gale developed about 1am, which could possibly have blown the grass from the water and up into the trees.

The water reached the cave with such force that a new, easily negotiable entrance was opened up about 6 feet to the left of the grating, and above the second overflow pipe. The new entrance is in a rift about 10 feet high and 3 feet wide. The slab of rock forming a squeeze 10 feet from the old entrance has gone. The entrance to the zig-zag route has changed considerably but is still negotiable. The first 5 feet drop in the cave is now nearly 7 feet, the boulder pile at the bottom having disappeared. At the second drop (about 8 feet) the second half is now overhanging, a huge chunk of what was apparently solid bedrock having been washed away. A few feet further down the stream a pile of boulders partially blocks the passage forming almost a squeeze. At the junction with Kenney's Dig, a mound of rocks and gravel has been washed up towards the Dry Ways. The bank of stalagmite at the Well was dislodged and is now jammed above the Well, 6 feet downstream. It becomes noticeable in this area that nearly all the stal has suffered considerable impact damage. Some have suffered so badly that the surface has the appearance of being shot-blasted. Apart from impact damage, very little of the cave beyond this point in the Wet Way has changed until just beyond the Water Chamber where the Water Rift starts. The change at this point is incredible.

Previously the route to the 40' Pot was horizontal in a low rift (too low to stand in places). Going downstream from the entrance of the Water Rift now, one is immediately faced with a 10 feet waterfall, which it is possible to traverse over and climb down 12 feet into the bottom of a deep rift, the ledges of the old route being about 15 ft. above. The new rift is easily passable standing up (about 2 feet wide and 30 feet high at the start) and gets steadily deeper. As one proceeds downstream the old route gradually becomes invisible due to stal blockages but glimpses of it are occasionally caught through windows. The rift at this point becomes only 6 feet high and 3 feet wide. After about 50 feet from the Water Chamber the rift suddenly ends and the water turns left through a hole 2 feet in diameter, emerging on a ledge 6 feet from the bottom of the 40' Pot. This allows an easy climb to complete the descent. The ledge is the platform to the right of the 40' Pot looking upstream.

The top of the "40" can still be reached by traversing high in the rift and then walking over gravel and rocks. Just through the Keyhole the stal has suffered very severe damage with the curtains on the opposite wall smashed apart, but surprisingly the rawlbolts are still intact.

The Dry Ways have fared less badly although impact damage is still quite extensive, and rocks and gravel have been deposited in odd places. It seems that the only places to escape flooding to the roof in the Upper Series were the two boulder chambers in the Long Dry Way. Even the Old Grotto was adorned with grass pendants hanging from the roof, and vegetation was wedged in the roof of the rest of the Long Dry Way.

Going downstream towards the 20' Pot, the first stal barrier in the stream has been partially washed away. Parts of the rock ledge on the left have gone, and at the 20' Pot itself, a massive grass pendant hangs from the roof.

Very little appears to have changed in Swildons I below the 20' Pot and upstream from Sump I. On long sections between the 20' Pot and Tratman's Temple the water had not reached the roof, being usually about 10 feet deep. Below Tratman's Temple, however, the cave was completely flooded, the water having backed up probably from Sump I.

Sump I is now much roomier than before, being now about 2½ feet high, but the length is much the same, and it is now a much easier free dive. In contrast, the first party to pass Sump I after the flood were faced with a 10 feet dive at Duck I. A rock and gravel bank on the downstream side of this feature has since been excavated, resulting in at least 1 feet of airspace in the Duck. The floor of the Duck was scoured out to an incredible extent and the depth of water there is still unknown.

Further downstream, Creep I was enlarged considerably, making the first half an easy hands and knees crawl and the second half a wade in thigh deep water. Creep II was enlarged to a similar extent but the water there is much deeper with a 2 inch airspace duck in the last section. Beyond there is a 5 feet deep canal until Duck II is reached. Here, two short sumps each about 6 feet long have formed with a short air bell separating them. The sumps have now been removed by digging away the gravel bank on the downstream side.

The whole of Swildon's II flooded to the roof and grass found in Vicarage Passage indicates that the water reached a depth of greater than 50 feet by the Landing.

Sumps II and III and Swildon's IV seem to have changed little although Sump IV is more spacious, and beyond Buxton's Horror is now a sump; and Sump V is very nearly sumped, being in a very dangerous condition at present.

At the time of writing, nothing is known of flood damage beyond Sump VI, but the higher levels of the cave (e.g., St Paul's and Paradise Regained) seem to have changed little, with the exception that the U-tube in the Shatter Series was temporarily blocked.

G.B. Cave also appears to have been devastated by flood water. The door to the blockhouse was badly battered but is still standing. The entrance passage has had 15 feet of floor scoured away in places and is virtually unrecognisable. The entrance to the new route is blocked and a maypole is required to reach it. On the Devil's Elbow route the first fixed ladder has its bottom rung 7 feet off the floor.

At the Gorge, the floor has been scoured out by about 8 feet in some places, and large volumes of mud have been deposited. Although the Bridge is still intact, its size is substantially reduced. Changes too, have occurred in the Main Chamber. The chain and ladder pitch is reported to be 15 feet longer, and the lower half of the chamber appears to have flooded to the roof. Much rubble was dumped at the bottom of the chamber by flood water, making the pitch to the Ladder Dig Extension 5 feet shorter. The water seems to have backed into this extension and considerable silt was left in the entrance passage.

Both Longwood and August Hole were temporarily blocked after the floods, but a way through the Longwood Series has now been opened. August Hole is still blocked at the top of the 30 feet chimney. In the rest of the cave there is very little change.

Although there was severe flooding in many other Mendip caves, there have been no further reports of damage. Even the entrance of Sidcot Swallet was known to be under water during the storm. Nine Barrows and Contour Caves were blocked by floodwaters, however.

Considerable damage above ground occurred in the Mendip area during the storm. Worst affected was Cheddar Gorge where the flood waters removed much of the tarmac and deposited mounds of boulders at each corner, some mounds being 50 yards long and 5 feet high. At the bottom of the gorge the torrent of water was at least 5 feet deep.

The water also did much damage in Velvet Bottom, where 50 feet of the Priddy to Charterhouse road was swept away at the horseshoe bend. In the valley itself much of the subsoil was eroded, revealing many Roman relics such as coins and pottery. A new cave, Grebe Swallet, was opened about 200 yards east of the road, and is thought to be about 200 feet long. Further down the valley, the water was 15 feet deep in places.

In the Longwood valley the flood water appears to have flowed with terrific force, and at a depth of about 6 feet. In many places the subsoil has been stripped, revealing bedrock. Many young trees in the path of the torrent were flattened and others were completely stripped of bark.

In the same area as Velvet Bottom, a collapse at Manor Farm revealed a 50 feet shaft, about 15 feet in diameter. It is ironical that the UBSS had been digging 20 feet away from this spot for 20 years without finding anything. Other collapses of a similar nature but on a smaller scale occurred on the Mendips, some of these being old mine workings.

Rainfalls of the intensity experienced in July 1968 are not quite as rare as one might imagine. The following quotation from 'Climate and the British Scene' (1) may give some food for thought. Gordon Manley states: "It is noteworthy that the two greatest observed amounts of rainfall in a day have both occurred in the same region towards the foot of the Mendip Hills in the Somersetshire levels; namely, 9.56 inches at Bruton (28th June, 1917) and 9.4 inches at Cannington (18th August, 1924)."


(1) MANLEY, G – "Climate and the British Scene" pub. Collins, 1952.

RD Craig

October, 1968.


Fairy Cave Quarry – The Present Position


Although several interesting and important caves have recently been largely destroyed by quarrying operations, a number of interesting discoveries has been made and some of these are described.

Most people who visited Balch Cave after its discovery in November 1961 will agree that it was one of, if not the most beautiful caves ever to be discovered on Mendip. They will also agree what a tragedy it was when the cave was almost completely destroyed by quarrying operations. Indeed, the operations had also put paid to Hilliers Cave and Fernhill Cave as well as several smaller caves. Since the loss of Balch Cave in 1966, Fairy Cave Quarry has fallen from the limelight as one of the places to go caving on Mendip. However, since that date several small but notable finds have been made in the quarry.

The first of these was in late June 1967 when a hole was opened in the quarry floor. A small chamber and mud tube were found but the whole place was unstable, several near misses being had by the exploring party. A permanent entrance was formed by pouring concrete around an oil drum, which to this day has never been removed. It was from this that the cave got its name – Conning Tower Cave.

A month later, members of the Cerberus Speleological Society were in the quarry when they decided to visit a hole at quarry floor level previously thought to lead to Chambers 6 and 7 of Balch Cave. Upon entering, they discovered that it was not those chambers but a completely new passage. This lead off Maypole Chamber and had been covered by stal. This find yielded some of the most interesting and unique formations ever found on Mendip. The cave is 180 feet long with a high rift chamber at the end. A 40 feet pitch was descended but this led to a static pool, possibly a sump. The discovery was named W/L Series but is also referred to as Balch, Mark II or as New Balch.

About the same time, a hole next to W/L Series was descended. This revealed a 3 feet diameter tube descending for about 35 feet at an angle of 45 degrees. The walls were coated in mud and it ended in a mud choke. Pete Bowler and the writer were the only persons to descend and although no name was officially given, the "xxxxxxx Mud Tube" seemed appropriate at the time.

Quarrying operations have also revealed minor discoveries which have been subsequently quarried away. On New Year's Day, 1968 a 50 feet high rift was opened up in this way. An aven at the end revealed high-level chambers and some small formations. Because of the date of discovery, the cave was named New Year Cave. It was quarried away shortly after discovery.

In February 1968 perhaps the most interesting find was made. Quarrying opened a shaft some 30 feet x 20 feet which was reputed to be 130 feet deep before it fell in. The writer visited it when it was perhaps 40 feet deep. This was the most major vertical development ever to be found in the area. It was suggested that this could have been an old swallet. Again it was quarried away shortly after.

At the present time, Fairy Cave, parts of Balch Cave and W/L Series can still be visited on application to the Cerberus Speleological Society. Fairy Cave is still open although the entrance area is unstable. Balch Cave can still be visited although only Pool Passage, Bulrush Way and Erratic Passage still remain. The formations in the cave are practically nil. Hilliers Cave is at present blocked solidly with silt but attempts to reopen it are being made.

So stands the position in Fairy Cave Quarry in late 1968, perhaps 1969 will yield another Balch Cave. One can never be too sure in this most interesting of areas.

Acknowledgement is made to members of the Cerberus Speleological Society for dates and some background information used in this article.

AJ Butcher

November 1968


St. Catherine's II (Downstream Section)
Further Exploration and Survey

(Doolin – St. Catherine' s System, County Clare, Ireland)

(Position: Proceed north from the road by Smithy Sink for 300 yards, crossing two dry-stone walls. The cave is in a swallet depression only 100 yards south of St. Catherine's I entrance.)

The downstream section of St. Catherine's II was discovered on 28th/29th July 1965 (1). At the time, the surveying equipment available was inadequate, and only a CRG Grade II survey was possible. Since the cave contains about a quarter of a mile of passage it was thought desirable to publish a survey to CRG Grade IV, which is comparable to surveys of most other cave systems in the vicinity. The BEC, Wessex and Shepton Caving Clubs visited the area in July 1968 and surveying equipment was brought along for this purpose. Unfortunately the prismatic compass was stolen on the first night of our stay, and we became resigned to delaying the survey for yet another period. However, we were very lucky to contact the Sheffield University Speleological Society, who were able to provide a prismatic compass, and Jeff Phillips and Dave Wear gave invaluable assistance on the survey.

Before starting the survey, Tim Reynolds (Wessex Cave Club) and I visited the cave with the intention of forcing the known limits of the system. Towards the southernmost part of the cave, the main passage splits into three, and I was never satisfied that they were pushed completely to the end.

On arriving at the junction I started up the first passage on the right, which was a dry hands-and-knees crawl, whilst Tim turned up the second passage on the right. After 10 feet of progress I was able to observe Tim's boots writhing in the mud through a small wedge shaped aperture in the floor. My passage terminated in a rock and gravel choke after 20 feet so I returned to see how Tim was faring.

As I poked my head into the hole I heard Tim's distant voice shout, "Come on, it goes!" So I slithered into a ghastly looking tube, one third full of thixotropic mud. Progress was rather tedious, but after 25 feet the tube turned left and changed into a small clean washed rift, about 1 feet wide and 3 feet high. Tim was 15 feet ahead struggling to negotiate a hairpin bend but eventually had to give up, failing by the length of one leg. This was most exasperating because the passage could be seen to continue and, if anything, slightly larger in proportions. I did not attempt the corner myself, mainly because it was impossible to pass and I would have had to negotiate the dreadful muddy tube again. As I am slightly larger than Tim it is most unlikely that I would have succeeded anyway. A bit of brute force and ignorance may round off the corner, but failing this a caver with short legs would probably succeed.

The third passage was not inspected on this occasion, because on the original exploration it was seen to be hopelessly blocked with stal.

The survey took 6 hours for the main passage, using prismatic compass and 'Fibron' tape. The end section was surveyed only to Grade I because the mud was so deep the instruments would soon have become unreadable. Tributary passages were surveyed on a subsequent trip by Sheffield University Speleological Society. Magnetic North was checked using fixed points on the Ordnance Survey map.

Figure 7 – Survey of St. Catherine's II, Downstream Section


Since the cave varies little in direction from that indicated by the original Grade II survey, the

observations made in (1) are still valid.


  • (1) Journal of the Shepton Mallet Caving Club, 4, No. 1, pp 3-6.

RD Craig

October 1968



 Journal Series 04 Number 6