The Craven Pothole Club Record

Number 40, October 1995


Club Rules & Constitution, Membership List and related matters are incorporated in the Craven Pothole Club Handbook published biannually.

Published by the Craven Pothole Club, Ivy Cottage, Horton-in-Ribblesdale, North Yorkshire. Copyright - Craven Pothole Club. No part of this Record may be reproduced without permission from the Committee of the Craven Pothole Club.

Contributions to this publication are welcome in any form and can be accepted on MSDOS disk. (ASCII or Word preferred)


Dr. R.A. Halliwell, Academic Office, The University, HULL, HU6 7RX

Tel No: 01482 465948(W) 876544(H) 466441(FAX)

E-mail: R.A.Halliwell@UK.AC.Hull.Admin


There has always been one area where I considered that the BPC had an advantage over us. The timing of their Winch Meet means that they can always run continental expeditions during the summer holidays. Our members on the other hand have to split their holiday between GG and wherever else they want to go. However for the second year running the Club has had a most succesful Summer with both an expedition to a major continental system and a well attended and sucessful GG. Both are described later in the Record although personally I hope that more will be appearing about the PSM, and the pivotal role of "Flossie" in the expedition's success.

I have for a number of Records been urging members to get digging in order that the Club may again start to find significant amounts of new cave. In this Record I am joined by both Mal Goodwin and Tom Thompson requesting help with digging projects. As many, but not all, members will know, the Club has made a significant find in the Gaping Gill system and I hope that this will enthuse other Club diggers. Every Winch Meet we spend a lot of time proddling and poking in various extremities and at last we have an extension we can be proud of. I would like to say how pleased I was when I heard that the name Glover Chamber had been chosen. Although he was no longer a member at the time of his death, Dick Glover had been a good friend of the Club and no one knew more about GG than he did. The new find is a fitting memorial to him.

The new discovery also brough home to some members for the first time the real meaning of conservation. If you find it, then how do you attempt to ensure the preservation of your find for future cavers. For many people it was their first experience of laying tapes and just thinking about how to move through a passage whilst causing minimal change/damage. Thus it is quite appropriate that this Record also contains a number of articles by Howard Beck, all with a conservation theme. The report on how well Birks Fell Cave, a major discovery CPC discovery, is surviving is initially encouraging. However maybe we should ask ourselves why is Birks Fell showing little signs of wear and tear when the much more recently discovered Hagg Gill is suffering badly. Is it just factors related to the cave rather than caver attitudes or is it the more stringent access controls. We need to identify good practice so that we will know, as a Club, what we will need to do when we have our next major find.

This Record is a bumper issue. Many meet leaders have submitted reports for circulation, reports which older members have told me they enjoy reading. The Club's overseas activities are well represented with articles on member's activities in Borneo and Transylvania. The Club's long and active history is remembered with the story of the first Providence/Dow through trip, another major CPC discovery. One member has made an interesting attempt at mixing fact/fiction and I very much enjoyed Ian Peretti's article on what it means to be a fully committed member of the Club. It is your Club and it is up to you to make sure that it continues to be al least as successful as it has been in the past, and preferably even more so.

The deadline for the next Record is 15 December but as I always say, if you can get your articles to me earlier then please do so in order to spread the workload.

Ric Halliwell

Centenary Way - A new extension in Gaping Gill.

Due to the fragile nature of the new extension actual locations have been omitted from this article pending a decision upon a conservation plan.


Just over 100 years after Martel first descended into Gaping Gill Main Chamber we can report upon the discovery of Centenary Way. Located, as it is, a short distance from Main Chamber it only serves to prove that new cave can be waiting around any corner. You have just to pick the right place.

The Discovery.

The North Passage dig developed into something of an epic involving a hard core of veteran diggers supported by a cast of thousands. Much effort resulted a level being driven followed by a hands and knees crawl through solution features in the roof of an enormous passage. Eventually this rather sociable dig succumbed to the efforts of several thin members who managed to squirm beyond the main dig and explore to a reasonable conclusion. Enthusiasm for creating a sensibly sized passage dwindled as help disappeared, instead, the chief protagonists turned to another dig which had been visited on a number of occasions over the previous five years. The site had a variably draughting rift below which a sandy dig ended in increasingly calcited fill.

The author first encountered Roy Taylor and Brian Varley, at the "alternative" dig, during a prospecting trip in 1994. He did not consider it seriously until the following year when, during the pre-meet week, he accompanied Mal Goodwin and Alan Davy in search of a project. Armed with a powerful light they went to investigate the possibility of climbing the high aven at the westerly end of Mud Hall. The very dry summer resulted in good visibility due to the absence of the usual mist and spray. The light's superb beam showed the climb to be a much less inviting prospect. What appeared a single large aven is in fact two smaller features modified by blockfall. The top, about 25 meters above the blocks which litter it's base, appears to have no passable way on.

On the way out Brian and Roy were found at the new site wondering how to handle the increasingly difficult conditions with their limited manpower. The author thought the site worthy of further consideration and after due consultation with it's owners was able to negotiate digging rights and the operation could commence.

After a week of concerted effort the dig went. Mal removed the last block and was pushed, first man, into the pristine beauty of a small circular chamber with a roof festooned in straw stalactites. In it's centre a circular pool, the Sea of Tranquillity, reflected the roof display perfectly. Getting around the pool was made interesting by the deep wellie grabbing mud. At the far side a muddy col overlooked a much larger void. Beyond an apparently unsafe muddy ledge a pitch estimated at 13 meters guarded a sizeable chamber. Further progress would need tackle so the jubilant team exited to the dig where they celebrated with a can of Mal's beer each (Exactly why Mr Goodwin had carried so much beer into the dig never did become clear!).

It was decided, unanimously, to name to initial chamber after the late Dick Glover who's enthusiasm for the system made him it's leading authority. The celebration was tinged with regret as everyone realised that the discovery of such a chamber so close to main chamber would present a formidable conservation problem. The team decided to return to the surface where rumour was already rife. At a hurried meeting in the Beer tent the rest of the camp was told of our good fortune.

That evening Glover's Chamber was photographed and a start was made at taping and stabilising a path using waste material from the dig. John Cordingley inserted two bolts above the 40ft pitch and a ladder was attached. The author, lifelined, found edge of the pitch to be more stable than had been feared. Two ladders were lowered with an extra one at the top, in the event that the thick mud swallowed the top most rungs. The author descended. To the right was solid rock but to the left was a superb wall of stratified sand, 40 feet high and probably the best example so far found in the North of England. A rapid recce showed no obvious way on. Centenary Hall was larger that we had estimated, possibly the third largest in the system, after Mud Hall. The floor showed signs of slumping under the right wall and at the far end was a wall of mud. Superb rock pendants hung from one wall. The entire chamber appeared, at one time, to have been full of fine glacial fill which has since collapsed into something, as yet unentered, below. JC and AD followed with Mal's lamp which miraculously revealed a possible way on in a solution feature at the top of the mud slope. It was clear that without climbing aids further progress would be impossible so everyone retired to the beer tent happy but exhausted.

The following morning saw a strong team ready for 9 o'clock. A path building crew were already at work in Glover's Chamber and the col between there and the next chamber, soon to be called Centenary Hall had been partially removed to reduce the possibility of damage to formations. Once at the bottom Alan started up the mud slope using screwdrivers and a crow bar to give support in the mud, it's eventual name - Velcro Climb- well describes it's nature. At the top Alan found himself on a col between two chambers with a pitch down. While he busied himself inserting a spit the classic call "Send more ladders" was relayed back up the cave.

After what seemed an age the author arrived with Alan and single bolt was used for the ladders up Velcro climb and down into the next chamber. This chamber appeared to be entirely formed in mud with shiny slip faces where sections had slumped. At the far end an apparently easily surmountable 10 ft wall of stratified mud repulsed all attempts at climbing it. It was very steep and only after attempts at cutting steps had failed was the human pyramid technique considered. Alan succeeded in reaching a side rift and putting a ladder on a thread. JC then managed to put a bolt in the main rift which enabled the author to scramble up the steep sandy slope above. Another bolt enabled everyone to enter the continuing rift which closed down after a short distance making a dig inevitable.

Equipment was ferried from the original dig and work commenced. The sticky stratified mud proved hard going and the pushing team were about to exit for a rest and some food when reinforcements arrived with a brew kit and food. Gradual progress was made until the author realised that there was apparently a space to the left as well as the more obvious continuation of the rift. The left hand option proved easiest as a final effort by Hon Chairman (Its funny how a going dig drags people out of the woodwork!) and the author entered a parallel rift which led through pretties back into the original rift. 3ft straws which would have been destroyed had we gone the obvious way were thus saved.

The cave now changed in character. The walls were covered in dark mud and underfoot was an excellent example of a cracked mud floor. The now gloomy rift led to a constriction which was passed by digging out the floor enabling a filthy u-bend to be passed to the final section of rift. A chock stone was climbed for a closer look along a narrowing section of rift that will not be passable without some technical help. The exploration was over for 1995, with no obvious way on. We will return.

The extension was surveyed on Sunday after which it was derigged. This was not an easy task as everything was coated in a thick layer of mud making all the tackle many times heavier than normal. Finally the entrance was back-filled and the area around the dig landscaped, in what will probably prove to be a futile attempt at preserving Glover's chamber.

The end was thought to be very close to another piece of cave and we planned to return to both locations with big hammers and good ears but the survey showed this was not the case. The projected intersection of Centenary Way and the other part of the system are shown to be beyond the beer tent.

Initially we thought the new extension might be the key to much more passage heading off under Ingleborough, as has been suggested by others. The author however feels that initial study suggests this is unlikely but further study of the area and future digs will hopefully prove or disprove the theories.

No more can be said at this stage for fear of giving away too many clues as the whereabouts of the extension to third parties who may care less about conservation than ourselves.


This has been a hurriedly composed report as I have been seriously pre-occupied, with Mal Goodwin and others, in our next major discovery (I hope!) at Sell Gill. It does not convey the true feel and excitement of the experience for those involved. I have not named everyone involved as I am afraid to say I've forgotten some so I had better leave out most. Your reward is to have been there. I would like to give heart felt thanks, on behalf of the digging team, to those who worked on the meet while we enjoyed ourselves. I hope you enjoyed the thrill of seeing some thing like Glover's Chamber as did we. Without you this would not have been possible and, as I have said before, a club is judged by the cave it finds.

Paul Norman

Digging flowchart

Meet Reports

Great Douk/Sunset Hole (1 January 1995)

Present: K Davey(Leader), Dave Meek, Edward Whitaker, Peter Whitaker(P), Laurence Elton, Judy Clark, Sheila Phoenix(P), Mick Wilkins(P), Ali Wilkins(P), Bob Jenkins, Jenny Jenkins(G), Patrick Warren, Nigel Graham, Rob Bethell(P), Chris Humpris(P).

The first club meet to be held on New Year's day proved to be a great success despite some very heavy hangovers. Unfortunately due to bad weather Sunset Hole was abandoned. Due to the fact that I was unsure of the way Mick & Ali offered to lead. It was extremely cold and very wet so we all went to the bottom entrance, crawled through the water and popped out the top and then sprinted through the icy wind back to the car to get changed.

Also present to cheer us on with moral support from their cosy, warm, dry fleeces, hats and gloves were Alan (I've got a Horton Howitzer hangover) Davey, Martin Holloway, Alison Glen, Jo Warren, Mal Goodwin, Angie Goodwin and Neville Lucas. These evil people waved us off and then disappeared to the Hill Inn for tea and sandwiches.

Kim Davey

Ibbeth Peril (11 June 1995)

People Attending: William Hewitt, Chris Little, John Woodhead, Hugh Dowling, Dennis Webb, Sheila Phoenix, Elaine Hill, Julie Billsborough, Donald Kelly, Maggie McPherson(Leader)

Following a slightly delayed start, the assembled crew made their way to the cave entrance of Ibbeth Peril I. Despite the overcast weather conditions, the water levels were extremely low. We started the exploration by first looking at the upper series as far as we could go. However, when we got back to the main chamber, one of the party member's light failed. Rather than stop the proceedings, he decided to wait there while the rest of the team went to look at the lower section of the cave. A number of people in the group were novices, but this did not prevent enthusiastic exploratitive spirit! Although the cave was very dry indeed, there was still evidence of earlier flood conditions present. On return to the main chamber, we met up with the person who had elected to remain there, and together exited to the car park for lunch. Most of the team were still keen and wanted to do some more caving. However, it was decided that rather than change and drive around to Robin's Dub, that they would like to have a crack at Ibbeth Peril II. Those who had a better idea of what this would entail, decided to listen the call of the local hostelry while this second part of the expedition was undertaken. This cave consists mainly of narrow crawling passages, and there was an inevitable delay as the party tried to get down the short pitch. Since no-one could move quickly through this section, some members of the party got a bit chilled and decided to retreat. In the end, just three of the group went to the end of the cave and returned pleased with their efforts. All in all, everyone, including the novice cavers, agreed that it had been a pleasant trip, and all went away determined to partake in another club meet in the near future.

Maggie McPherson

Gingling Hole (Fountains Fell) (24 June 1995)

Present: Martin Tomlinson, Pat Halliwell, Ric Halliwell, Roy Clunie, Simon Parker, Gemma Connolly, Peter Barnes & Tom Thompson (Leader).

The very first time Gemma and I visited this hole, over four years ago was a Burnley Caving Club meet to which nobody turned up, therefore no tackle, no go down. The weather was really hot and sunny then and it was also late June. This being Craven I felt more confident that someone would show, but the other conditions being similar I decided to be prepared for a low attendance. I spent some time with the guidebook converting the tackle requirements from garlic into English and prepared a reasonably successful tacklesack packing guide so that everyone would know which tackle was for which of the 11 pitches on the big rift route.

This proved to be wisdom as we will see later. Ric and Simon were first down the hole followed by Pat and then Roy and Martin. They pressed on making good time to the third pitch where Peter, Gemma and I briefly caught them up. The watery bits between the entrance and the third pitches were holding the minimum of perched water, lower than I had seen them on previous visits. At the third pitch (alternative traversed over ledges on right) there is an interesting large chamber with good straws which can be entered from the end of the watery bit preceding the pitch by climbing up through boulders on the right in an alcove before the narrow winding bit. This method can avoid the awkward approach to the pitch for the thinner of us.

Soon we were at the fourth pitch which we decided not to rig since the huge blocks glued to the right wall by calcite form a sort of crazy staircase down onto the mud slopes below in Stalagmite Chamber. Peter and I crossed to the far side to view a display of helictites and the deep green waters of a static sump before joining the others (except Simon who had gone off through the bedding to Fools Paradise).

A brief conference was held regarding how far we were going. Simon, Peter, Gemma and I were to be the only explorers willing to venture further so we wisely donated all the tackle for pitches 8-11 to those in retreat. We were accompanied by the others as far as the wonderful displays of calcite in Fools Paradise, and to the fifth with its black stals by Ric, then on down to the narrow stuff. The sixth is short but awkward to rig but soon we were all stood looking up at the way on, a climb up into a traverse. Part way along here you can see down to the rifts of the big pitch route, which look implausible from here. Following Simon into the traverse the route forward began to look just as unlikely; we seemed to be feeding ourselves down into slots with no apparent continuation; this is because the wider bits of rift are lower and forward out of sight. Soon we arrived at a floorless "landing" in this stepless "staircase"; below us a false floor was the take-off for the rigging left in situ for the big pitch route, no doubt for those who dive through to open leads in the Fountains Fell Master Cave. The next bit proved to be too off putting for Peter who turned back as now three of us squeezed through 'Ammered 'Ole.

This is followed by some interestingly narrow bits of rift, occasionally water filled and well decorated; some spots involve feeding yourself through head or feet first on one side and then negotiating a drop into a rift. The latter require some ability to defy gravity on the return. Some narrow helickly streamway follows to further traversing out to the crux; an even more narrow drop down the rift. It was at this point that Simon realised that we needed the ladder that we had confidently left behind in a watery rift thinking that we had passed the crux already! I volunteered to go back for it, mainly to reassure myself that what I had squeezed down was indeed possible to return. The laddered rift proved to be enough for us, Simon only descending and we beat our retreat. There's a lot more cave to follow to the bottom on that route - another bit to be added to my ever increasing list of things to finish off!

Peter Barnes had waited for us at the sixth and we made good time exiting, as usual the third pitch being the holdup zone especially when we were all well decked out with tackle. The nasty smell at the entrance was unpleasant for the tackle-senders, but soon we were on the seemingly endless tramp back to the cars. Thanks everyone for a memorable trip, especially the go further group and Ric and Pat for helping return the tackle.

Tom Thompson

Sell Gill Expedition (1/2 July 1995)

Supported by cast of Thousands (well at least 25). Enthusiasm was so high that R Halliwell and P Norman rigged ladders on Friday evening, whilst mountains of rope bags were made ready for tomorrow.

Saturday was dry, and so many people off up to hole, that it must have looked like a Victorian Africa safari. Your clapped out old meet leader was even given a taxi ride up to the hole courtesy of Andrew Hargreaves. Apparently bodies were everywhere in the hole. Just about every route that could be rigged was, including laddering the fossil route.

JN Cordingley, with assistance from his sherpas blew bubbles in the sump, Barbara Jenkins & Steve Pickersgill supplied scones, jam and cream and tea in china cups for the party which was held at the bottom of the Wet Pitch. Not even a drip of water?

On surfacing the bulk of the team were met with fresh strawberries and cream supplied by T Whitehouse and family. Whilst the surface party was going on, Bob Jenkins was heard to say that he had brought plenty of spare carbide for his electric lamp!

The hole was left rigged for tomorrow's exercise, and the day gradually ended with a splendid social do in the back bar of the Crown (Camp One?).

Earlier the Major stretcher was checked ready for tomorrows, only to find that (A) some bits were missing, or (B) we were too dim to understand it! Sunday dawned dry and people were waiting around for the CRO who were doing a joint practice rescue with us. They didn't turn up. Wrong deodorant lads? Eventually others, especially the 2 Simon's went up and de-rigged the hole.

Well, that's it folk. If I haven't mentioned you all by name, it's just because there were so many of you. I was a bit disappointed that no probationary or very new members turned up, you missed a good do!

My special thanks go to Kim Davey for organising the Tee Shirts, which will be available in the near future.


Link Pot (16 July 1995)

Present: Cliff Poole, Elaine Hill(G), Donald Kelly(G), Julie Mohr(RRCPC), Andy Roberts, Estelle Sandford(BEC), Emma Porter, Dennis Bushell(Leader), Julie Billsborough(G), Pete Mohr(RRCPC), Steve ?, Steve Dent(P), Sister Caren Wheadon(G), Sean Howe(BEC),

A hot sunny morning saw the start of the meet. After a short briefing the party decided which route to do, which would be new to us. The route chosen allowed us to dispense of what seemed to be several tons of ladder and line.

On proceeding down the first pitch Steve (who was making a come back after several years lay off) found it a lot tougher than he remembered, partly due to the tight nature of the fissure. Also to stumble at this first obstacle were Pete Mohr and his wife Julie, who after a hard day's caving on Saturday, and watching Steve struggle down the pitch decided discretion was the better part of valour and went for a walk.

With everybody safely down the pitch we made our way to Echo Aven through an involved boulder crawl, Cliff having the job of ferrying people and tackle through the confusion. Elaine overheard Cliff tell Steve he had a donkey's dick (short length of cord for tackle hauling), Elaine did not know this and was quite amused that Cliff was bragging about his genitalia.

Rigging Echo Aven was quite awkward due to the fact it was already rigged for SRT with RRCPC rope. On descending the exposed 26m shaft the adrenalin was flowing no more so than with Emma who's cries could have been heard back at Bull Pot Farm "Keep the line tight!!"

Once assembled at the bottom we pushed on, Andy having already disappeared down a passage on a reconnaissance mission which proved to be the way on - "The Wormway"

In a rifty type aven we noticed a climb with a handline; on investigation it led into a water logged low crawl, so we beat a retreat much to my chagrin. This was the way to Fire Hydrant and Cape Kennedy last stop Zeppelin Chamber. We think there were no policemen to ask on our return. Emma and Estelle explored a side passage as far as a sump. Meanwhile we started the long process of ascending Echo Aven.

Whilst ascending the final pitch, Emma managed to tear the crotch out of her oversuit and fleece, which had already been repaired, leaving her with a ten inch fleece tail between her legs, needless to say everybody's lamp beams were on the same spot. On reaching the surface we were met by a warm balmy evening, and after a debrief which left us undecided as to where we had been, we made steady progress back to Bull Pot Farm

Dennis Bushell

Gouffre de la Pierre Saint Martin (30 July/13th August 1995)

Present : Peter Barnes, Mike Bertenshaw & family, Denis Bushell, Andy Elliot & family, Emma Fraid, John Green, Pat Halliwell, John Helm, Bob Jenkins & family, Russell Myers & family, Simon Parker, Andy Roberts, Mick Thompson, Sue Towson, Tony Whitehouse, Ric Halliwell (Assistant Leader), Simon Rowling and Simon Ashby (Joint Leaders).

The first two weeks of August (give or take a few days) saw the above group in the Pierre St. Martin area of the French Pyrenees. The prime aim of the visit was to do through trips between the SC3 entrance high on the slopes of Soum Couy mountain and the artificial EDF (Electricitè de France) Tunnel entrance to the Salle Verna in the Sainte Engrâce valley below. These were achieved by all who intended too, 13 in total, with the majority going "down-hill" and 4 "up-hill". Going down-hill the cave consisted of; 400m of pitches, approximately 3 miles of mixed, sporting caving (crawling, climbing, traversing & deep pools), the Tunnel du Vent boat ride and then approximately 2 miles of very big boulder passages/chambers. The epitaph to Marcel Loubens by Norbet Casteret was passed en-route.

Due to the various tackling trips required prior to the through trips, the only other caving undertaken in the area was done by the "Chalet Boys" who bottomed a 196m shaft. However, the area was extensively walked, including Pic Midi D'Ossau, Pic D'Anie and the Gorges de Kakouetta & Holzcarte by groups and at least one group went canyoning. In addition, large amounts of alcohol and the wares of a local trout farm were consumed on the last night barbecue, and the hordes of BPC who were in the area at the same time were annoyed at all possible opportunities. Many thanks to all those who came and we hope they enjoyed it as much as we did.

Simon Rowling and Simon Ashby

GG Meet Report

GG 1995 was wicked!

Or, fab, groovy, brill, absolutely spiffing for all those the wrong side of twenty.

The annual GG jamboree got off to its usual hard working start at tackling. The only minor (if you talk to Patrick) / major (if you ask me) hiccup involved your co-leaders tent which was poleless: someone (it wasn't me) had left the poles under the bed at home! This problem was sorted out care of Steve Pick and BJ who had a spare set of A-frames at Horton - we rewarded them with a melon.

The gantry took longer to erect than usual due to all the safety modifications, including the gate. The winch also had to be realigned straight to the pulleys, so the boys had a chance to play with their drills. As usual everyone fought for the chance to unravel the guidewire and as usual the fairies had done a good job knitting with it. I think they must have chopped a bit off to darn their socks or something, as Terry and Patrick had to practise levitation at the bottom of the shaft in order to tie it off. However the winch was up and running by Sunday evening. The happy campers on guard duty were left with strict instructions to build a swimming pool which they did admirably.

The following Saturday Ian's yard rapidly filled with people, gear and children, and by teatime eighty odd (some very odd) tents dotted the banks of Fell Beck.

Up until Wednesday the sun shone, shone and shone a bit more. Most people escaped the heat underground, those left upstairs lay, semi-clad, around the Costa del Fell Beck and frolicked in the swimming pool, not a pretty sight in some cases. However, the true GG climate returned on Thursday with a vengeance. What d'you expect when you leave a man in charge for one day? I tried my best to improve it over the next few days but sunshine and showers was the best I could manage, the damage was too great. There was also a rumour that the wind on Friday was the back end of hurricane Felix, not Tony's bean curry!

Life in the Trenchfoot Arms was quieter than usual with little singing but we did get one rendition of "Swing Low" by the CPC Women's Choir. If I am to lead next year, I demand more singing and silly antics. A lot of beer and cider was thrown down various throats and a certain ex-military man managed to fall in the beck more often than not on the way back to his tent. It was good to hear of all the caving trips that people did during the week, a nice change from previous years. I understand, and I'm no expert, that most entrances into the system were rigged. And then there was the dig...

The bean curry suppers and mushy peas, thanks Tony, meant that there was no shortage of work for the champion Tardis emptiers, Brian "Spielberg" Varley and Roy Taylor. They deserve our thanks, as does everyone who emptied a bog, for doing this unpleasant task. Yuk.

The other centre for socialising was the swimming pool, it was sometimes necessary to compete with the crocodiles for a space, but luckily there were no penguins. The pool was a mecca for the junior non-members who had forsaken sliding down the bank behind the beer tent this year. It always amazes me how well the kids get on at GG and I'd like to thank them for all the running and odd jobs that they did for me during the week.

The first Sunday was a day of frantic hair washing as an ITN/C4 newsman arrived to film an "And Finally..." piece. However, we eventually found out that it was going out world wide on satellite and cable and that hordes were unlikely to descend on us. When you think about it, Clapham is quite a long way from Tristan da Cunha. He arrived back again on Thursday with a tripod to film extra bits for ITN News At Ten (BONG) to show over the bank holiday. His continuity was a bit awry, though, as Sunday was sunny and Thursday, well, wasn't. Apparently, the footage (note the TV speak) from Sunday, both above and underground, was very good - especially of Fritz which I find hard to believe, but there you go.

We also had a mention in The Dalesman who had an article about some bloke called Martel, who? A few mapcases arrived after reading Country Walking magazine and nobody seemed to come after reading a two page spread in the Bolton Echo but then I understand Bolton is a very exciting place to spend a bank holiday.

The first aid box was in demand throughout the week due to the bouncing boulders on East slope (at least one person was gobsmacked by their GG experience), corned beef cans and several cases of Leader's Leg. The beer tent roof also required a plaster but that's another story. Talking of bouncing boulders, this brings me to the subject of guides. It seems that only a few people actually like guiding and it was certainly a struggle to get guides - you should have heard the excuses but I'll spare their blushes for the time being. Anyway, I'd be interested to hear any sensible suggestions on how you think guiding could be improved and made more appealing.

The meet came to its customary end with the last man - Ted this time - being covered in all sorts of unmentionable things such as ... well I won't mention them.

Detackling was extraordinarily efficient with the winch gear off the fell by 7pm. The last night in the beer tent was notable as there was still beer and cider (still as in left not flat) and for the last night stew cooked by Kim.

The last morning was the usual mist down to your boot tops, freezing cold, extremely wet detackling weather. The high point of the day was watching Harpic being carried off in a style befitting our Junior Vice President - with the rubbish. The last load left the fell about 4.30pm and I was at home in the bath at 10pm.

So, all that's left to say is a big thank you to everyone who helped at the meet and see you all next year.

Jo Warren

Kingsdale Master Cave (9 September 1995)

Present : Steve Lent, Phil Mckirgan, Martin Ford, Hugh Dowling(PM), John Woodhead(PM), Henry Rose(PM minus Quad!), Steve Pickersgill, Barbara Jenkins, Pat Halliwell, Tom Thompson, Gemma Connolly, Ian Robinson(G), Elaine Shaw(G), Neil Mackinnen(G), Jo Dean(G), Peter Barling, Reg Parker, Barry & Mary Hunkin(PM's), John Webb(Leader)

I expected a large turnout wanting to bask in the warm embers of a record summer and didn't do bad with 19 plus leader. That included 4 guests and 5 probationers, two of whom did extremely well for their first trip and ladder. (I am sure Barry and Mary will not mind me mentioning that they are commencing their caving careers later than most.)

The human train entered the oil-drum entrance and shunted to a halt at the duck to allow the leader to take on water (I now realise it's a lot easier caving with a light!). A quick sprint along the roof tunnel was followed by a veritable escalator of folk descending into the master cave simultaneous to an "adventure" group ascending their adjacent hang.

Very low water levels meant Rowten No.1 sump had 3" airspace and so TT gurgled through to communicate back from the bell. A quick look up East Entrance Passage into Swinsto Final Chamber impressed those who hadn't been there before and was followed by another dual "èscalacìon" into the roof tunnel - busy little place! Sixteen took a left turn to the sunshine while I led a break-away group along Milky Way and up into Toyland. I reaffirmed my faith in wellies by climbing up the 20ft rift without them detaching themselves and me from the nowadays rather smooth walls. I had however forgotten about the tight bit that follows, and grated a few ribs by attacking it at the wrong level (hint: use the floor!). The milky calcite gours beyond still look nice, presumably because little traffic ventures that far.

A gagging thirst was then only relieved by a serious attack on Bernies. Thanks to all for an enjoyable day's caving.

John Webb

Caves of Birkwith (10 September 1995)

Attendees: Ric & Pat Halliwell, Rob & Alex Scott, Steve Pickersgill, Barbara Jenkins, Neville Lucas, Hugh Dowling, John Woodhead, Patrick Warren, Howard Beck, Mary & Barry Hunkin, Andy Hayter(Leader)

When you are given Penyghent Pot as your meet, life as a meet leader is very simple. Check the guide, pick up the relevant gear from the tackle store, collect the team together and do the hole.

Caves of Birkwith presents additional problems - which caves should you do? So the weekend prior to the meet found the leader playing a serious game of solo what-about. This was repeated later in the week as several inches of rain fell on the north-east coast - and the weather forecast indicated that this was typical of the whole of the north of England and Northern Caves indicated that most of the caves are susceptible to rain in rather unpleasant ways. A further revision was made on Saturday after two inches of rain fell in twenty-four hours - with the promise of several more over Sunday. So it was with the expectation that I would be calling the meet off that I left home on Saturday afternoon..

I was more than a little surprised to arrive at the Cottage in brilliant sunshine and even more surprised to find the water levels very low. A further period of what-about was engaged in that evening - over several pints of cider remaining from the Winch Meet.

Sunday dawned with the sun still shining. Calf Holes (Dry Lathe Cave)/Browgill was attacked first. This is almost obligatory for a Caves of Birkwith meet. Progress was slow due to a party of paying visitor novices in front, but the trip was uneventful. Surfacing soon after mid-day, the party set off to Red Moss. The Halliwells and Hunkins made their apologies and peeled off as we passed the parked cars. The remainder of the party had a most enjoyable trip down the cave. (In true Craven tradition, the meet leader had not done this before - sorry to those who insist that meet leaders must do the caves before leading them). For those who have not done Red Moss, I can heartily recommend it - interesting (but not technically very difficult) caving, pretties, water, etc. We can however confirm that the final metres to the sump are only for the committed. On the return, Patrick and Neville decided to do Long Mire Inlet.

At the surface the remainder of the party waited for the two intrepids to return. After half an hour and still no sign the others set off for Old Ing. Five minutes later Neville and Patrick emerged. Neville decided that the lure of Ingleton was too great, but Patrick and Andy set off down Old Ing after the others. Mick's End was entered and exited by Patrick. (He says he didn't want to lie in the puddle) A safe exit was made by all at about 1700 hours after a day's varied and enjoyable caving.

The only question remaining is, "What happened to the Weather Forecasts?" Since we are highly reliant on the forecasts, when they are as inaccurate as they were this week, how do we make accurate assessments of the safety of doing particular caves?

Andy Hayter

Lancaster Hole/Wretched Rabbit (23 September 1995)

Present: R Halliwell(Leader), P Halliwell, S Kelley, I Woods, K Gannon, K Lane(PP), H Beck, J Webb, S Ashby, C Brown, R Myers, B Myers(G), R Stevens(P), H Rose(P), C Little, R Dove, A Brooks, M Baslington(G).

A slow descent of Lancaster Hole on ladders allowed those who had not seen the Colonnades to pay a visit. Then a descent of Wilf Taylor's Passage took us all to the sump. It was noticeable to those of us who had been that way before that this passage is beginning to show signs of wear, presumably because it is being used by more people now that the fixed ladders have been removed from Fall Pot.

A gentle stroll up the streamway in low water conditions reminded those who had been before of its beauty. Those who had only done the high level route before asked why they had never been in the streamway and newcomers just enjoyed it. Ben Myers was introduced to the interpretation of relatively recent flood debris well above head height. The tortuous climb out of the stream at Oxbow Corner was compared unfavourably with the old, now unstable, route up the ramp and a brief halts at the Minarets and Mainline terminus allowed route-finding lessons and a chocolate stop.

Then it was down Stop Pot and along the stream to Eureka Junction and up into Wretched Rabbit where larger members wished the passages were wider. Two ladders for aid on the entrance climbs were greatly appreciated (for future reference the bottom ladder needs to be at least 20ft from the bolt) and an exit was made to a sunny afternoon having taken only 3 hours from the sump. An amazing time considering the size of the group and the fact that only the Leader was willing to admit that he knew the way.

The last people past Lancaster on the way back were grateful to find that the front group had already removed the tackle back to the cars and the sun stayed out until after all had changed. A fine trip with many people seeing bits of the system which they hadn't visited before..

Ric Halliwell

Easegill Caverns (24 September 1995)

Those in attendance: Simon and Reg Parker, Ian Robinson(P), Tom Thompson, James Schofield(P), Elaine Shaw(P), Andrew Brooks, Roger Stevens(P), Mike Baslingdon(G), Dennis Webb, Karen Lane(P) and the leader Howard Beck (pp A Blick)

A party of 12 gathered at Bull Pot lane for the second day's event beneath Casterton Fell. With the near series the chosen venue everyone headed for County Pot, however ES retired before descending. The pitch was quickly rigged and Broadway found to be carrying a large stream. With Wretched Rabbit their preferred exit TT IR and JS headed for the Manchester By-pass, while the remainder had their sights set upon more obscure areas of the system.

At Spout Hall RP was forced to retire with back trouble. The remaining group, however, located and climbed a devious route into the Upper Trident Series, to be entertained by a variety of passage forms, some purgatorial, others well decorated, but none of them at all dull. The main labyrinth leading to Battle of Britain Hall was on this occasion not entered, though a possible way on was noted for future reference.

Via some sandy-floored chambers a route was eventually found onwards and down, eventually dropping into Pierce's Passage beyond the Poetic Justice pitch. Pushing on downstream to Eureka Junction, the froth stalactites left behind here by the previous night's downpour was a sobering experience for everyone.

A return to the near series was affected by way of Stop Pot, where the bedding By-pass had to be used owing to the high water conditions, and the Manchester By-pass back to Spout Hall. The surface was regained after approximately 4 hours of variable caving. My thanks to all for a thoroughly enjoyable trip.

Howard Beck

The Great Sell Gill Expedition - The True Story

The build up to this expedition starts way back in the 1970's, when a young John Cordingley decided, further exploration of the cave systems of the Yorkshire Dales, would have to be of an aquatic nature. John set his sights on the Sell Gill sump. After numerous dives he had to admit defeat, due to low roof space and the logistics of transporting diving gear from the surface. During the proceeding years, John gained an international reputation and went from strength to strength.

Some years later members of the CPC took an interest in Sell Gill. A protracted dig near the surface, in what was known as Calcite Way, revealed a possible way down, avoiding the flood prone known cave. This area may have been the original water course pre-dating the glacial age, consequently the pitch had been filled with glacial debris. Not to be deterred, the members of NHASA looked further up the deep entrance rift, where water was seen to sink. During the next year boulders were removed, and eventually a chamber was uncovered containing the head of a pitch. Unfortunately the weather turned foul and all exploration was halted until the following spring. However, the time was not wasted and dye tracing from the new entrance proved a connection to Newhouses.

A strong team was assembled for the descent of the new entrance the following May. Settled weather enabled the team to descend via a series of chambers and pitches to the known cave, joining the stream at camp one. The implications of this new discovery were obvious, digging at the bottom was now feasible. The dales were soon alive with rumour, that the Craven had found something significant. A campaign of disinformation was started, fictitious cave passages were named from cinema releases of that year. This tactic proved successful until it became apparent that ULSA had believed the rumours, mistakenly thinking they referred to Penyghent Pot, the rest is all history.

John still nurtured a keen interest in the Sell Gill sump, so at the 1991 Gaping Gill meet, he eagerly awaited a progress report. It soon became clear that the hard men from NHASA North(Mines And Quarries Div) had removed the constricted area of the sump, and significant progress had been made. During the week John formulated a plan to return to the sump, he waited for a night of Tetley madness before persuading Hoggy and Patric, (not to be confused with Pat n Ric), to organise a training meet for the perspective sherpas, Gouffre Berger 94 was born. The next three years saw a flurry of activity as people were determined to prove themselves up to the challenge. John also took his training seriously, spending his time on a archeological dig, researching the origins of the Mallard duck, on the remains of a shipwrecked Viking long boat in Malham Cove, with Russel Carter, who had been enlisted as his personal trainer and guru.

The Berger trip generated a lot of outside interest in the club, it also became evident that while ladders and life lines have their place in modern caving, a deep expedition must make use of modern technology, as a direct result of this, the Craven side stepped tradition in the interests of this monumental project, and adopted SRT.

The team started to assemble at Horton on Friday the 30th of June, the local hostel was full, late arrivals had to camp, or sleep in the car. While the rigging teams tucked themselves up in bed for an early start in the morning, the sherpas settled down for a couple of pints in the Crown.

9am, the first rigging team consisting of Hoggy, Bob J and Steve Kelly had been underground for a good few hours. The writer while wondering the car park was surprised to see the second rigging team, consisting of the two Simons. Both being early risers, saw no need to pack their ropes the night before, and were now looking for the drunk who had fallen asleep with the tackle store key. (We do seem to be making a habit of these late starts. ) By 10am the majority of the sherpas were awake and drinking tea, but one well known Rip van Winkle was absent, Harpic who is known for his tact and diplomacy, was delegated the task of waking Mal.

With the entrance series pre-rigged, the sherpas made camp one in less than four hours. Some time later it became apparent, that training is good for fitness and stamina only, some of the aforementioned team were sat in a circle gazing at an object of desire. Just as dissent was setting into their ranks, WONDER TED metamorphosed out of the shadows, with a pull here, and poke there, the Primus was lit and the kettle on.

John and the digging team arrived back at camp one to a party atmosphere, the sherpas were busy tucking into cream teas, complete with scones, buns, and real cream, courtesy of BJ and Steve Pick. Cavers are known to carry some strange things in their hats, but the this must be the first time that cream buns and slices of strawberry flan, have been prusiked out on their heads to Harpic, who in true Craven tradition was leading from the surface.

This CPC expedition must have been one of the most enjoyable for sometime, with the cave rigged on ladder, and four independent SRT routes down to camp one, and most of all a diver in the sump.

Dr E Amer

New entrance to Easegill System

Diggers, believed to be Red Rose, have pushed a side passage in the Cigalere Inlet of Pippikin all the way to the surface. They dug their way out from the inside, carefully replacing both turves (!!) after their exit. It is said to be tighter than Pippikin but no doubt more details will emerge in the future.


The next two pages are photographs taken by John Webb on the Club's trip to Belgium in May. The trip was written up in the last Record.

photo 1


Can a dream come true?

It is 48 years since I stood with those pre-war pioneers: Arnold Waterfall, Alf Birkett and Bill Spencer, at roof level in North Passage. It was the first night of the first post-war CPC Gaping Gill Meet in 1947. There were three or four "new boys" to Gaping Gill that night. Besides me, there were Tom Austin, Bill Farrow and Brian Hartley and possibly one or two others. Arnold had invited us down to be introduced to Gaping Gill, and gave us a whistle stop tour of some of the most frequented passages, then known. We were then each given a photograph of the survey of Gaping Gill and informed that we were now "Guides" for any visitors whom we might take down. Our tour finished late that evening in North Passage where Arnold told us where we should dig. However we were too keen to see more of the passages than to spend time digging. So I had a good camp and assisted by Alf Birkett, Bill Spencer, his brother James (known as "Junior") and Eric Light (the last three being named "The Queensbury Lads") I started my Gaping Gill education. It was with Arnold and the "Queensbury Lads" that I took part in the "Corpse Lifting Expedition" of 1947 and later in the first exchange trips in opposite directions of the newly discovered Stream Pot. North Passage had been forgotten!

It was not until 1980 that Len Cook and I resolved to start what we should have started when we were much younger. All except the newest members know the full saga of the digging, tunnelling, rock removal and the opening of the North Passage Railway, while the flat topped rock at the entrance to the tunnel became the kitchen table from where refreshments were served to the diggers. All this and more in our effort to ensure that CPC would be the first Club to behold the wonders that lay beyond and I could feel that I had satisfied Arnold's exhortations of 1947.

Now in 1995, I wonder if Paul Norman and all those involved in this year's exiting discovery of Glover Chamber and beyond have possibly got the key to the way into what I have always called Great North Passage. When I heard what the Club's surveyors had to say about the direction in which the passage was heading, I immediately though "will there be a link with North Passage way beyond the present limits of the Club's dig?" Perhaps what some of the Club considered to be a "big laugh" when the dig was started may yet see what I'm now unlikely ever to see, I hope so. Good luck to you Paul and all those that labour with you in the cause of new explorations in the name of the CPC.

Hugh Bottomley

GG Meet August 1995

It is very hard to describe this holiday to people in the suburban southeast. They tend not to believe you can survive 10 days without a bath, or ice cubes in a G & T. I now just tell them I'm mad, as they all ready suspected and head for Yorkshire. There must be some magic around that big hole that draws us back year after year, but I don't understand it. One of the best moves I made was dragging Kathy up, protesting a little, in 1992 for a long weekend. For those people who suffer Trenchfoot memory that was the year it rained for 10 days non-stop. We got soaked by the rain and hooked on the place, we now come up for as long as possible including detackling.

This year I had had enough, it was too hot to work down here so I skipped off a day early and spent Friday travelling up the A1. We arrived about 18.00 and had the hottest walk up the nature trail I can remember. Thinking of how cool it would be at GG we tried to keep in the shade as we walked up Trow Gill, it just got hotter. The moor was dry with all the boggy bits baked hard, our boots got covered in dust after we crossed the stile at the top. As we walked towards that hole instead of the noise of the generator all we could hear was the splashing and shouting of people in the swimming pool! Instead of a cold wind, a hot blast whistled across the camp-site. I checked my compass to make sure I had driven North and not South to the Vercors, no this was Gaping Ghyll. ( is it Gill or Ghyll, I don't know, I'm from London).

It is nice to see members of your family and your friends again, Kim handed me a cool beer, Mal chucked one at me. Both were drunk before they got warm. I would like to thank the person whose idea it was to put the swimming pool outside my tent, or were they just trying to tell me to wash this year? Our two man tent had survived a week of GG weather and was still dry inside, we ditched our packs, had some food and made for the Trenchfoot. I felt at last I had hardened to the cold Northern nights as I walked across in shorts and Tee shirt, but no everybody was dressed the same. It was very hot that night, we slept with the tent open, it must rain tomorrow. Up at seven on Saturday morning I walked down to load the rest of our gear on the tractor still in shorts and Tee shirt.

I volunteered to stay behind at Clapham to load the second tractor with the beer and other odds and ends that we could not get on the first load. As I sat in the farmyard it rained, 3 great big spots then stopped, then it got just got hotter. As others had now joined me we went to the New Inn, just to sit in the shade of course. With the tractor loaded we started back up the hill, with all my food and beer up there I felt I was now on holiday. Saturday ended with my other daughter and her boyfriend arriving, a dip in the pool and a trip to the Trenchfoot. Who needs package holidays in Spain?

Sunday morning we were steamed out of the tent as the sun shone on the sleeping compartment at 07.30 in the morning. After working above ground it was nice to go down as whistle to cool off in the warm dry atmosphere below. A trip round with Cara and John then back out to the heat. It was that night that the Trenchfoot was empty, everybody sat out on the terrace drinking in the warm balmy summers air. This really was at GG, I'm not kidding.

Most people in the club know I'm a devout coward with a great fear of heights. When Dave Hoggarth (Hoggy) asked me if I would like to join him, Pete Jones and Ted Wood for a trip down Stream Passage Pot I was told not to worry all three pitches are under 30ft. I tried to work out how if the bottom of GG is 365ft from the fell, how do you get down only descending 90ft on ropes. I came to the conclusion there must be a lot of downhill walking somewhere in the pot. Hoggy knows my limitations, is an experienced caver and wouldn't tell fibs, would he? With confidence I donned my new shiny SRT kit and abseiled down the oil drum entrance. Twenty-nine feet, "that's the first" I said, "no, that doesn't count, that's the entrance" said Hoggy. "&%!*%*%" said I. The new slimline Ted had got through a tiny keyhole and was now instructing me on how to get on the next pitch. He then slid down into the darkness. After taking my helmet off, and with a helpful foot on the head from above, I got through the keyhole and abseiled down about 30ft. to join Ted. Perhaps he didn't tell fibs. The next pitch needed a traverse to get on to and somehow Hoggy got in front, instructions were given and off he went. My turn, on the rope, no problem, down I go, and down and down and down. "Look at this pretty" says a voice close by. With relief I opened my eyes and I saw Hoggy level with me. I stopped and looked at the big stal but my feet didn't find the ground a few feet below, I kept going down and down. He wouldn't climb halfway back up to make think I'd only gone down 30ft, would he? The next pitch, Ted led and he was singing all the way down, good voice, good acoustics. Hoggy got me on the rope, off I went down and down with Ted singing at the bottom. When the singing stopped and my feet had not hit the floor I felt this must be a nasty bit, sing Ted sing I shouted. I seemed to fly past great flakes sticking out of the shaft, catch any thing on them and you will talk in a high pitched voice I thought. Down a bit more then Ted's head is in view. I rewarded his singing by water-skiing across the only deep pool in the cave on my backside, then dumped myself flat on my back in it, Ted laughed. Against my nature I said a rude word. The next pitch was no problem, straight down enjoying myself now, bugger, a deviation, no worries you can walk along the wall to it. At the bottom of this pitch I was told I could take off my gear now we were down. "I thought you said there was nothing over 30ft." said I. "I got confused with them metrey things" said Hoggy. Cheers Hoggy I would never have done if you'd told the truth; cheers Ted for the singing and help getting my SRT kit on; cheers Pete for bringing up the rear and having to wait so long while I double checked everything. I felt really chuffed as I walked in to the main chamber for the first time, not having come down on the winch.

On another occasion after missing the start of a trip down Whitsun Series I came across the new dig. I just had to have a look, over coming the entrance pitch I'm in the pretties just laying back looking. I do hope it stays like that for a good many years. A muddy thing slid up to me. It was Mal Goodwin going for grub. Can I go in a bit more I asked "Yea we need some more diggers" came the reply. Next I came across my greatest fear in caving, a huge ladder pitch all of 30 metres (I get them mixed up as well). Enter a knight in muddy armour "I'll life-line you down if you do the same for me", it said. I think it was Pete Jones but it was hard to tell with all that mud. At the bottom I meet Alan Davy very muddy, and watch him run straight up the ladder, I was still shaking and thinking about how I would get back up. Can you lay this tape round the formations, asked another black blob, now I'm working in the new dig thinks I, as he disappeared over a 30ft, mud pile. I follow a little later. Another ladder, I think I'll stop, we need diggers I hear in the distance. I started up and stuck to the mud, the ladder stuck in the mud, 5ft. off the ground I remember I don't like ladders. On this one you had to try and pull the rungs out of the mud to get your hand round, then try and pull your foot out the mud to move it. The foot came out of the welly, the foot went in the mud, the foot and mud went back in the welly, the welly stuck to the foot. Up the rest of the ladder, no problem if I came off the ladder I'd stick on the mud, fear gone. Down a muddy ladder, at last more people, Paul Norman, Pete Jones and John Cordingly "I've come to help dig" I explain. Russell and Ben are up there at the moment but you can have a go in a little while I'm told. I sat down on the mud as people dug above me. Later we were joined by Mal and some other people; still the grunting and groaning of digging going on above. A cup of tea appeared, I hadn't done any work, should I drink it, I was told yes. Paul went up to the dig I sat in the mud, then "it's going" came the cry from above. Never have I seen people disappear so fast. They all went up the ladder before I could detach myself from the mud. I followed, no fear of this ladder I think I would have climbed it if it had been 100ft high. After a short crawl and a bit of a squeeze I'm sitting in what appeared to be a triangular chamber with only six people in front of me. At this point it dawned on me that less people had been on this part of earth than had been on the moon and I was one of them. I can't describe the way I felt as I left that new bit of cave but I am grateful to the people who made it possible. Again I entered the main chamber feeling rather chuffed

The last few days were spent cleaning and packing gear, working, caving and drinking. All to soon it ends and we are back on the M1 driving home. Many thanks to all the people who made this possible, see you next year.

As a footnote:

I am not a brave or a hard caver. I'm a middle aged novice or a fool, but over this year I have done more with the CPC than I ever thought possible. I have abseiled down a deep hole, I have been in a very new section of cave and learnt a lot of new techniques. I have climbed on the shoulders of a person smaller than myself to climb a pitch he shot up with ease. I bottled out of a ten foot climb and my guide found another way round, he didn't laugh or call me names, he helped. I have caved with the brave and the stars of TV shows, all have helped in any way they can. I have been loaned SRT gear, lights, helmets and dry clothes because as a novice I did not have them, or as a fool I forgot them. I have been talked off a ledge in Sell Gill by somebody who gave me their time, and words of encouragement. I did not have to write a letter in the club journal, all I had to do was ASK and listen. Many thanks to you all.

Ian Peretti

Northern Cave Diving

Despite the summer drought there's not a lot to report; it seems it happened when half the CDG were away on holiday! Several cave divers have also been kept busy inspecting various obscure sites for the Northern Sump Index which should (fingers crossed!) be out before the next issue of the CPC Record. This index will not be cheap but is crammed with information of interest to the exploring caver. The CDG has all but bankrupted itself to get it out; please help by buying a copy - you will not be disappointed!

Meanwhile I've heard reports of various divers having rooted around in Keld Head and Downstream Kingsdale, apparently without much success as yet. The G.G. system continues to attract divers' attention; Ian Lloyd of The Bradford went through Hallucination Sump without finding the hoped for downstream continuation en route. However he has written some useful notes (see CDG Newsletter No 117, Oct.95) which would be of interest to anyone thinking of digging in the Clapham Bottoms area.

The writer managed to squeeze a little further into the main Rising at God's Bridge, which is now 51m long and fairly difficult. We've had some unusual temperature readings in Chapel-le-Dale recently which suggest the presence of a large independent feeder just behind the resurgence so further effort is expected here. To the north in Dentdale Phil Murphy is carrying on with the Tub Hole Project and Phil Howson has explored a new sump for (I think) 45m in the same cave, which is still going.

Ribblesdale has seen some activity recently with Malcolm Bass and Paul Monico's visit to the divers extensions in Gingling Hole. They returned very impressed by the magnificent passages and clutching a lot of survey notes which later suggested that the downstream sump is still perched well above Brants Gill. Nearer Ivy Cottage the writer was inserted into Sell Gill's Downsream Sump on the club meet in July and returned with encouraging comments for the diggers.

In Wharfedale Martin Soliman has pressed on into Downstream Sump 2 in Hagg Gill Pot, grinding to a halt 56m in at a rising gravel slope at 12.5m depth. Interestingly the nearby Deepdale Rising ends at a tight descending gravel slope at an identical depth - and is now very close. Finally, CPC members have also been involved with work done by the White Rose over the summer in draining the sump in Dibb Well Cave near Grassington. They found some dry stuff and beat us divers to it, but that's their story, so read the next White Rose Journal!

John Cordingley

Dow Cave / Providence Pot - Forty Years On

Some time ago Ric Halliwell wrote to me suggesting that a reminiscent view of this system might be of interest - so when I'd recovered from the shock of realising that it was indeed forty years ago that CPC members completed the first through trip, I promised to set pen to paper.

I write however with some hesitation, as the success of the explorations was the result of the joint efforts of many CPC members, each of whom would have an interesting story well worth telling - the following account cannot really do justice to all who were involved.

It was Denis Brindle who was responsible for the whole thing. He'd walked over the area, noted that the stream sinking just below Providence Lead Mine in Dowber Gill did not reappear lower down the gill and suggested that it could flow through to Dow Cave. To my eternal shame I remember scoffing at the idea - after all, the known course at that time of Dow Cave lay just below Caseker Gill. A short time later as we both walked over the area together, I had to admit that he could well be right, and a later fluorescein test confirmed the connection.

Our next move was to start blasting at the far end of Dow Cave (Hobson had by then made his choice) in an attempt to follow the stream. This proved to be difficult and dangerous and we made little progress. A further fluorescein test was then undertaken during a club meet and the colour was found to be entering Dow Cave not at the far end but from a passage on the south side.

This passage was subsequently explored (with some difficulty!) as far as Bridge Cavern. "Some difficulty" is an understatement as I cannot recall any cave, not even Mossdale, which I found more exacting. In those days before wet suits the main problem was simply cold water - you just had to traverse above the stream to keep warm, and the effort required not to slip down into the water was exhausting.

The traverses started with Hardy's Horror, a short traverse where you relied only on your arms to support yourself, your legs dangling in space above a black pool. How Arthur Hardy first led it I've no idea.

The route then continued at a higher level along the gypsum traverse and the still higher 20-yard traverse before we finally used a ladder to return to the stream passage at a point where it could be more readily followed up. Occasional traverses were however still necessary because of the narrowness of the passage at stream level.

Loose rock was also a problem locally where it was advisable to move very delicately indeed.

Rather than attempt to push beyond Bridge Cavern from the Dow Cave end of the system, our next efforts were directed at the sink in Dowber Gill. The Providence Pot entrance was really a gift from the Gods. I still recall camping there on a dry weekend with Bob Powell after a rainy week, when the stream was fairly high and flowing all the way down the gill. I also recall how we noticed that more water was flowing into one pool in the stream bed than was flowing out of it. So we poked about with a crowbar at various places in the bottom of the pool, and suddenly a small hole opened up, and the water poured down. This is now the entrance shaft which was subsequently dug out and led to 54 Cavern - named after the year of its discovery. Bob Powell later extended 54 Cavern as far as Terminal Chamber.

Terminal chamber remained terminal for some time until blasting at several points eventually opened the way one memorable weekend to the Palace, the Dungeon and the connection to Bridge Cavern.

The first through trip from Dow Cave to Providence Pot was made shortly afterwards by Bob Powell and the writer, taking a leisurely 7.5hours. On this occasion we also visited the upper sump as water levels were very low - but it remained a very definite sump. As we had various emergency supplies at Stalagmite Corner we were also able to make a brew before finally going out.

The through trip was in many ways one of the most satisfying expeditions I've made and was quite straightforward. But on reflection, the trip was so simple because we knew the route and the precise moves to make at each awkward place - even Hardy's Horror is not quite such a horror when you know it. And nowadays in a wet suit I'd stay in the water below it!.

But the plan of the cave, which shows it quite correctly as almost a straight line following the prominent NNW/SSE jointing, is certainly deceptive - you really need some knowledge of both ends of the system before trying the through route which I am sure still deserves to be rated as a "hard classic".

Concluding finally on a more general theme, one wonders if there is anything remaining to be discovered in the area. I believe it has been suggested that the Black Keld Water might once have drained to Dow Cave. I'm fairly certain that the enormous shakehole ca 300 yards ESE of Capplestone Gate (shown as an old quarry on some maps!) is a collapse into the Mossdale system and that the shakehole marks the point at which the Mossdale stream leaves the Gill House Valley and starts heading towards Black Keld also along the prominent NNW jointing.

In addition, the upstream sump in the Dowber Gill Passage does seem somewhat out of place if the origin of the passage was entirely the Dowber Gill sink - the latter may have merely found its way into an underlying system draining from the SSE and perhaps including the Mossdale water. But unless the upstream sump could be forced I'm beginning to think we shall never know!

Norman Brindle

Time Travelling in Sarawak

The lure of Sarawak was once again irresistible and Christmas Eve saw Becky and myself on a flight back to Borneo to tie up a few loose ends left behind the previous year. It was to be a holiday rather than serious caving but life, it seems, is never that simple. On calling in to see Richard Hii to drop off a couple of copies of the Expedition report we found that an American Expedition was arriving that very day and we would be welcome to join them. We felt it wiser to wait for their opinion before getting too excited but a splendid open air meal, lots of beer and much yarning into the night left all parties convinced we could have a good time together. The following is a description

of the discovery and exploration of a small cave system in Gunung Buda just outside the Gunung Mulu National Park. It is the article I wrote for publication in their report of the expedition.

Gua Tardis and New Year's Cave

A gentle rustle of leaves high above caught the eye and yet another sweaty climb was needed. This time however, behind the concealing bush, was a one metre diameter entrance blowing a gale and looking down into a passage that appeared far too large for the mountain containing it. Gua Tardis instantly had its name; it also had its guardian. A large racer snake lay sentinel blocking any way in, but tomorrow he would be gone having gorged himself on the swiftlets already making their way home deep in Gua Tardis and flying within inches of the waiting mouth. Once again Mulu was starting to work its own brand of magic.

New Year's Cave was initially found on a surface scouting trip around the south-east corner of Gunung Buda by Becky, Joseph and Alan. About two hundred metres up the skid trail off the main logging track we climbed up into the forest towards the cliff line. Almost immediately we dropped down to a large arching entrance guarded by fallen logs. Down to the left were some steep descending rifts that really needed a rope. Alan and Joseph dropped down to the right to a low passage and disappeared for some time along a strongly draughting passage. Directly at the back of the entrance chamber a traverse past a hole in the floor led up into a slanting rift that again was draughting. With at least two good leads to return to we decided to continue our traverse of the cliff.

Sticking close to the cliff face heading south we noticed several entrances at about 10m behind the usual "dragon's teeth" stalagtites. Beyond a ridge yet more entrances, at a similar altitude, were visible. One entrance had a felled tree and makeshift ladder leading up to it. The ladder was rotten and unusable but the rock was clean and sound giving a possible lead. Almost immediately below this entrance, at the base of the cliff, was a small hole. It could be seen to drop a few metres onto the top of a small sand bank that looked unstable from above. The whole area around here was obviously riddled with caves and all that was needed was an easy route in.

A little farther on, at the very corner of the cliff, Alan noticed some large leaves waving in what was obviously a healthy draught in amongst the clinging roots of a tree. Climbing up to it he found a small window, a howling draught and a racer snake curled in the bottom of the entrance in an ideal spot to catch the passing swiftlets. Beyond the snake he saw a large flat roofed chamber and shouted back "it's like a Tardis, you could hold a dance in there". Sure enough, the entrance was right on the corner of the cliff and the broad spreading chamber inside looked too big to fit. We left the snake to its guard duties and returned to camp with a good batch of leads and entrances to be followed up. The snake had left Gua Tardis entrance and Becky, Djuna, Dave Bunnel, Dave Gill, Joseph, Simon and Alan climbed down into the entrance chamber. Everyone allowed themselves the luxury of pure exploration before the task of the survey began. At the first junction, only some thirty metres or so into the cave, Djuna turned right towards the daylight of an obvious entrance and easily made the climb out of the small hole discovered the previous day. To the left a guano covered ledge above a trench led through a calcite constriction to a long flat floored junction chamber.

To the left the passage narrowed to a rift and our progress was halted by a hole in the floor. Beyond the hole daylight could be seen filtering in between formations. The entrance was never reached. Straight ahead at the junction the draught was found again and we had a worthwhile survey job on our hands.

Back in the chamber, as we discussed splitting into survey teams, we noticed some strange scratch marks on the walls that looked as if something had been stretching or sharpening its claws. Ideas ranged from swiftlets trying to gain some purchase to land, through porcupines to the exciting prospect of leopards. This is one that is best left to the zoologists to ponder.

Following the draught leads up a small boulder slope followed by a sandy crawl (or alternative high rift passage) to the bottom of a 3m climb. To the right here, a passage descends and narrows until it is impassable at floor level. Above is a high rift that could be climbed with considerable effort but was left for another day. Up the 3m climb led into a smaller passage that eventually lowered to a thrutching grovel. Djuna and Dave B had already been a fair way along this passage but it was to be the surveying team (Dave G and Simon) who were to make the big breakthrough. The passage continued in stooping and crawling dimensions until it narrowed and climbed steeply before closing down completely. DG's confusion was short lived and he was back down searching for the draught that had been lost. It was eventually found coming from a tiny, twisting passage (with the exact dimensions of Dave B) that broke out in the floor of a classic Mulu strike passage later to be named No Stone Unturned.

After their whoop along No Stone Unturned DG and Simon returned to the entrance series survey team and, whilst having a fag, quietly and calmly told their tales of caverns measureless to man. The atmosphere turned electric and everyone raced off to see it for themselves. Fortunately for Dave, Djuna, Joseph, Becky and Alan they had just finished their last survey traverse, unfortunately for Dave and Simon they hadn't (unfettered exploration does have its drawbacks). Consequently we had the choice of direction and chose 30 degrees and straight into the mountain. Dave and Simon had 120 degrees heading back to the entrance cliff but, as it turned out, they had the consolation of surveying some of the prettiest passage in the cave.

Heading north the passage was a high rift 4)5 m wide with a dissected floor that required climbing and traversing over and past razor sharp pinnacles. We left survey cairns at several open leads including a steep descending rift completely draped in the ubiquitous pinnacles that were covered in deep guano.

We passed a major junction (A31) at a huge hole in the floor and continued to a premature and disappointing end of the main strike passage. A climb at the farthest end proved fruitless and a large opening high in the west wall was inaccessible to mere mortals. It is, however, of limited interest due to its closeness to the eastern cliff line of the mountain. A climb up the west wall here brought us into a high level phreatic network that looped back to the main junction. We finished the day surveying to the top of a short pitch that dropped to yet another strike passage and we were, we hoped, back with a going cave.

Meanwhile Simon and the two Davids were surveying south in some of the largest passages in the cave. It was obviously reasonably close to the surface as tree roots had invaded several areas of the system and several of the leads were ending in calcite chokes. They found a shelf of pinnacles that had been entirely undercut and completed their day by finding yet another entrance. Here they mistakenly thought that they were at the unvisited entrance in the entrance series and decided to traverse the cliff back to Gua Tardis entrance. It was a pale and much wiser trio that we met back at the logging track that evening. They had spent an hour or so slithering down slender tree roots on the near vertical cliff having a real rainforest experience. No one has felt the burning desire to repeat the epic.

The following day Dave, Simon and Louise explored and surveyed several leads above the breakthrough point into No Stone Unturned. They surveyed to the top of a pitch that is almost certainly the top of the unclimbed rift in the entrance series and pushed the high level series further west. Meanwhile Becky, Alan and Joseph returned to the undescended pitch and dropped into the Austin Series, so called because it started at survey station A40 (the Austin A40 being a classic old English motor car). Heading north down a couple of handline climbs two rift passages were discovered and both descended extremely steeply down pinnacles until eventually both needed ropes to descend safely. A point of interest here was that the dip of the bedding here had reversed from that in No Stone Unturned. On a return visit with Don and Djuna this series was pushed right down to saturation level but the hoped for breakthrough into large passage eluded us Vivian and Sarah joined the core team to survey the passages close to junction A31 and were instrumental in the next breakthrough. With Becky they surveyed down a descending passage and a short climb. They found themselves in yet another enormous strike passage, No Turn Unstoned, that is developed along the same bed as No Stone Unturned running above. Dave, Joseph and Alan had descended the huge hole at A31 and had found No Stone Unturned from a different direction. They also found one of the passages in New Year's Cave that had been visited on the surface traverse day. The group split into three survey teams with Becky, Sarah and Vivian surveying No Stone Unturned heading north whilst Dave Simon and Louise surveyed south. Alan and Joseph were to survey out to New Year's Cave.

To the north the passage continued in grand proportions over treacherous water worn rock and then over a mud floor with wet guano pools until it ended at a massive stalagmite choke. This is probably due to the cliff outside having cut back in probably truncating the cave. Several leads in the eastern wall were pushed but each in turn choked. An aven to one side was discovered and this coincided with a hole in the floor in No Stone Unturned. This link has not been proved as it was completely covered in dripping wet guano and volunteers were in short supply.

South from the Brolly Shop, No Turn Unstoned was as straight as a die past a major junction until it dropped to a muddy grovel. A small passage to the right led to a complex network that eventually connected with the New Year's Cave passage that Alan and Joseph were busy surveying.

At the back of the entrance to New Year's Cave a climb down between jammed boulders leads to a choice of ascending rift traverse or a further duck down followed by a climb up to a small stance. Dropping down beyond the stance leads to the direct route through to No Turn Unstoned. The passage is direct and obvious with a couple of small chambers and a junction where turning left leads to the southernmost end of No Turn Unstoned. Straight on leads to a sharp left corner just beyond which it is possible to climb up to the right up into No Stone Unturned at the hole at A31. Straight ahead, past the climb to A31, continues through a short rift and a short climb to join No Turn Unstoned at the lower level.

The cave, on several occasions had shown its treacherous nature. Simon was lucky when a chockstone to a large boulder he was climbing dislodged causing the whole climb to break up. He escaped with cuts, bruises and shock. On the way out after the No Turn Unstoned survey trip Joseph arrived at the Brolly Shop, where we were packing some rope, wanting the first aid kit and all hands because one of the many pinnacles had collapsed and fallen on Sarah. By the time we got there the pinnacle had been cleared from her and she, to everyone's relief, also appeared to have escaped with cuts and bruises that would need a couple of days recovery. The whole of the cave and the pinnacles in particular were treated with enormous respect thereafter.

On our penultimate day in the cave most of the odds and sods left over were to be surveyed. This included a climb from the small stance in the entrance series of New Year's Cave. Becky, Joseph and Alan surveyed this passage through to No Turn Unstoned. All the way along Dave, Louise and Simon could be seen through holes in the floor as they tied up all the remaining leads. Finally a climb up the east wall broke into No Stone Unturned at one of our survey cairns. Dave and Djuna valiantly surveyed the final lead in the Junction A31 area. Whilst it started in grand dimensions it rapidly closed down until flat out crawling brought them into the Austin series at station A40 having avoided the pitch. This completed yet another link in a complex system that now is some 2.64km long and has a vertical range of 128 metres.

Djuna obviously couldn't get enough of the place and joined Don, Joseph, Becky and Alan for the final trip that surveyed to the bottom of the Austin Series and then, in a torrential downpour, surveyed from Gua Tardis entrance down to the logging track. In all this is a fine cave that was explored and surveyed in the finest of company and the best of spirits. A little gem.

Should anyone return here looking to extend the cave then your efforts are probably best directed in the Austin Series. Here the passages heading south from the bottom of the pitch are not fully pushed and extend beyond the survey. The large passage just above saturation level would also be worth a closer look as a stream could be heard. Good Luck.

Many thanks to all our new American friends to whom we owe a debt of gratitude for good company and great caving.

Alan Weight

Transylvania - Erderea from Oradea and beyond.

This is the story of the little bits of research I did whilst in the Transylvanian Mountains of Romania, in August of 1995. Most of the time I was there I was Tomee-Tomee, beloved of my band of orphan teenage lads, ever-keen to go anywhere with nothing, down caves with no lights, over mountains in crap shoes with no lunch etc. Respect.

Pestera Meziad:

Signposted from Beius it's about 18 km, turn right in Remetea and when you get to Meziad you keep going, run out of tarmac and at the end of town turn left over the river by a wide bridge onto a more familiar kind of track. Things quickly begin to look a great deal more like home as you drive up the road into obvious karst country.

For what seems like forever you rumble up the track, but keep going until you get to the end, a sort of hotel-resto with a balcony bar, next to a bridge over the river - could be the Hotel California - such a lovely place.......Now they want to charge you and send down the guide who is normally drunk as a skunk and carries a carbide which doesn't work and looks like it ought to be his lunch or a teapot or property of Aladdin esq. The price for tourists is 5,000 Lei which is about £1.50 - don't let them charge more. Also they should give you a ticket or something. If you've got the old drunken geezer best leave him behind at this point he doesn't walk too fast up the road anyhow; for another km. or less you follow the road straight ahead that you motored on; its still driveable some distance but would present problems turning.

You find a rickety wooden bridge on your left just after a tributary stream joins the beck; followed by an equally unsafe looking gangway leading to an absolutely magnificent abandoned resurgence arch. You will normally find the river bed dry in the summer. The entrance is about 70 ft high and 120 ft wide into a vast domed chamber. High in the roof are ancient dried up looking formations and in the centre of the floor a stump of stalagmite column lies at an angle, looking severely uprooted. The cave is said to hold 2km of passage, standing here you think "and the rest". To the left a passage leads off marked "danger", interestingly; further round daylight is seen. As you cross the dome to the right you find an ugly concrete wall with a gate in it; the wall could be passed but the gate is not forced to be locked.

To the right after the gate is an absolutely enormous wall of stal flow, occasionally moist and shiny but in ruins in parts; metal steps with a scaffold handrail mount the flows on the left. Leaving the huge main passage you climb up to meet the shrieking of hundreds of bats, some the size of small pigeons. They cluster on curtains on the sloping roof as it arches up to the head of the aven, dropping guano like rain and with seagull-like accuracy as you pick your way round the smelly piles trying not to touch it or to think about Dracula, seeing as how we're in Transylvania. (When I was a kid I thought anyone who would dare to go to Transylvania would need to be clinically insane, funny how up till now the staring villagers crossing themselves, the deteriorating road, the crazy hotel, the weird guide - hey you´re not called Igor or Egor or something are you? And now the bats!!!) The rising stench of guano becomes overpowering and then you're past, climbing quickly higher, smiling if you're not shat on from a great height!

At the top of the aven white stal towers above and without the guide you may avoid the ridiculous animal and religious morphological descriptions so dear to "showcaves". From here a winding oxbow leads off with occasional blockfall and things of once and sometime beauty, including a "sheep" and something or other upside down. What appear to be high level leads are seen and then you emerge to a kind of ridge or bridge with a chasm either side, then after a series of chambers into the Organ Pipe Chamber. To my horror we were invited to throw stones at it to make it ring; I stopped this stupidity and had my translator threaten to report the drunken guide to the Institute in Cluj unless he promised never to repeat this. Years of raining stones have battered this once beautiful and still impressive wall of piped stal curtain. After this a steep handrailed descent to the floor of the main passage leads directly back out via the gate. There appear to be inlets in the roof and at ground level to the right as you return. The main chamber is impressive enough with daylight streaming through the great arch.

Pestera Ursilor:

This is probably the most impressive showcave in Romania. Discovered in 1974, it took many years of patient work to get it ready for opening to the public. It's the best organised and tidiest bit of civil engineering I saw in the whole country. 50,000 years ago 141 large European brown bears lived in the fossil higher level of a stream cave in an unlikely looking outcrop on the wrong side of a valley leading up into the main mountain limestone massif around Padis. Then the entrance fell in. There must have been a week or two of intense activity which was probably better missed by the likes of you and I, suffice it to say that the biggest bears, doubtless with a bellyful of smaller bear, hiked off to various corners and lay down to starve to death. This went unnoticed until a miner abseiled through a tiny hole 21 years ago to shine a light on the aftermath of all this horror. That's the bear's bones of the story but what's more amazing is the stal, which having survived the bears and the conversion to a showcave is quite possibly the most impressive display that I have ever seen in my life; simply put it is an absolute must-see. There's about 700 metres of passage and a lower streamway which you would have to get permission from Cluj for.

The Mountain Ranges of Transylvania.

Muntii Apuseni - the Western Mountains.

The main ranges are; Bihor and Vladeasa, Gilan, Trascau, Metaliferi, Zaraud, Codizu-Moma.

Bihor and Vladeasa; Mountain ridges attain about 1500m, the highest are granite and similar crystalline rock which pokes out above thick deposits of limestone forming an infill plateaux at around 1100 m, mainly in the north. The main plateaux are Padis and Scarisoara.

We stayed at Stina De Vale, a decrepit ski resort with poor but cheap facilities, bars etc. Chalets are cheap enough. No caves are known there, the geomorphology is mixed but large areas of limestone are interleaved with older and younger rocks under a thick forest cover. We found a promising sink west of the red band path to Padis about 1km from the hotel. A dozen kids from the orphanage cheerfully helped to construct a huge dam with mud and logs using only a pick-axe and catering beans tins for shovels. We constructed a sluice from this with a neat tapered log as a plug. By filling the dam and then pulling the plug we got a concentrated torrent effect at the mudwalled sink; by pick-axing (whilst tied on) by the jet we exposed a rock walled tunnel and after cutting back the passage a little further we encountered a low section that sounded like a u-bend as the water went round. As the water level went down it could be heard dropping into a larger space; we pushed deeper into the forest following floodwater gullies and discovered a second sink entirely in soil, followed by a log filled shakehole. Excavating this whilst the kids played about with the dam, (it was rock walled with several cavities leading on down), I moved some overhanging vegetation from the side; this turned out to be overhanging banking which was cleared just as the kids released the dam. The roar of water in a larger passage came distinctly to the surface from a 12 ft long rift dropping into a small chamber.

It was necessary to try to stabilise the bank next day before entering in case it slipped and I suffer a similar fate to the bears. This was done in the dodgiest sense and I went down to have a look at the chamber; lots of loose rocks to take out. We were leaving the next day and without shovels to remove the earth banking no further exploration was possible; the kids, after their visits to caves elsewhere in the area, are now convinced that we have discovered Pestera Stina De Vale. I think I managed to convey some of the thrill of exploration to them, they also learned a bit of cavers' civil engineering.

To and From Stina De Vale, 1102m ASL.

Nearest town is Beius, on the railway from Oradea to Vascau. Not many trains, said to leave Oradea (more easily reached from Budapest in Hungary than Bucharest) at 3.00 am. From Beius a bus up the long hill to Stina de Vale takes you to where you start to walk at 1100m. There are no bus stops or station - it goes from the railway and stops where you want. You can take the red band marked path and walk to Padis (1280m hostel, camp-site, very dirty) in 6-7 hours. The markings are very poor from Stina to the top of the ridge, it's easy to get lost in the forest where something ( wolves? bears? vampires? Werewolves? Sheep? Lost hungry walkers?) howls at night especially when the moon is out.

The blue triangle route can be followed to a top called Poieni from which the ridge traverses Bohodei and Cumpanatelu 1680m to descend to Lake Varasoaia 1400m thence to Padis.

The mountains can be approached from the north via the town of Huedin up the valley below Vladeasa 1836m to reach the cabana (hostel) of the same name. It's two hours walk from Rogojel, blue band, (no regular bus but hitching possible from Huedin 30km) or 6 hrs from Rachitele, bus from Huedin, walk to Pietrela Albe then follow blue band down left bank of river. It's 10 hrs walk to Padis from Vladeasa, follow blue band then either red cross or red triangle depending which side of Cumpanaletu you want to traverse. Further west the town of Poieni gives access to the Valea Draganului which has a cabana, a "tourist complex", an elusive lake" and a castle tucked away that's probably more Draculan than Sighisoara (Birthplace of Vlad the Impaler). From here you can get to Padis if you don't get lost in the forest.

Padis is the centre of this area and the place to end up in if you want to go caving and walking without much tackle. You can get there by the following routes including those previously mentioned.

From the railway at Sudrigiu take a bus to Pietroasa, then follow the road along the river Crisul Pietros, when the valley splits take the left branch along a track.

From the town Dr Petru Groza (!) railway station get a bus to Baita and walk the red band across the Galbena valley, northwest flank of Piatra Galbanei 1243m, to Pestera Focul Viu, an ice cave, thence to Padis, 9 hrs in all.

Again from Dr Petru Groza bus to Cimpani ( Not Cimpeni!) follow road to the village Sighistel then follow the canyon, many caves here, a forestry road marked blue triangle, to get to a small clearing. Take the left way over a top called Tapu to meet the red band route to Padis.

Get to the village of Arieseni, which is on a reasonable road, also accessible from the narrow gauge railway at Cimpeni. A number of ways to Padis can be cobbled together from here using yellow triangle and red triangle markers.

An interesting route into the mountains can be arranged by catching the train to Cimpia Tulzii, the bus to Turda (always a conversation point) and then the narrow gauge railway to Cimpeni, and by bus as before

Another excellent area is the Scarisoara valley, hostel and food shop at 1100m, village nearby, the caves here are adequately described by Andrew Knight in Record 37, Underground in Transylvania A Summer caving expedition to Romania 1994. This article gives excellent advice to anyone considering a caving expedition to the area and describes a number caves in detail. To get to this area (if you still want to after reading AK's story about the cows eaten by bears) bus from Cimpeni to Girda de Sus and follow the red cross route up valley then over higher pastures, or more interestingly follow the blue band and up a canyon with many caves including the 30 m high entrance to Zgurasti which contains a lake in a big chamber.

Suggested walks from Padis

1. Follow red point marks. Padis, Lake Varasoaia, Rock Gate Cetatea Radesii, Canyon Fereastra Mare, Waterfall Moloh, Canyon Somesu Cald, Cliffs of Abruptul Cuciulatei, back to Waterfall Moloh and cave, then cross below Cuciulata Mountain, the way to the left here goes to the cave Tunenul Mic, then through the valley Feredeu to the ridge where it meets the red band route leading back to Padis; 9 hrs.

2. Follow the blue dots. Padis to Grajduri Forest, then to the Cliffs of Piatra Gabenei, thence to Cetatile Ponorului, back to Padis via the Ponorului River. 6 hrs.

3. Follow the yellow dots. Padis to Grajduri, two potholes on the way to the ice cave of Focul Viu, then down to the Galbena Canyon. Thence canyoning upstream (care if recent rain or thunderstorms likely) climbing various waterfalls by the wooden ladders, left up the Chasm of Bortig (Izbucu Galbeni), and back to Padis via Ponorului again.

4. Follow the yellow crosses. The path goes south across a vast plain of sinkholes and interesting potholes; it ends at Avenul Negru, the Black Hole!

5. Follow the yellow stripes. First you need to go on the yellow dot path to cross the river at Grajduri, then the path forks to the right to the ridge at Pestera Neagra where the yellow stripes lead to Lake Negru and then the ice cave of Ghetarul de la Barsa. Going north you can make a diversion to take in Pestera Zapodia, after which the route reaches the saddle where the red stripes can be followed to Padis. 5.hrs

6. Follow the blue triangle. In 2 - 3 hrs you get to Coiba Mica where the river sinks; lkm further on is Coiba Mare.

Muntii Apuseni - Gilau Range:

This part of the Apuseni mountains is accessible from the narrow gauge railway from Turda to Cimpeni. Get off at Lupsa Station and follow the red crosses to the ridge at Cabana Baisoara Hostel. From here you can explore the fascinating Cheile Turzii which is a canyon 300m deep in some places only 5-8 m wide! You can see this from the train near to the entrancingly- named Turda.

Muntii Trascau and Muntii Metaliferi:

These mountains are part volcanic and part limestone! The best way in is from Aiud. In the Trascau range near to Rimet Abbey, Intreglade and Cheia there are a large number of excellent canyons.

Muntii Codrumoma or Codrului (get used to everyplace in Transylvania having a name in Hungarian, - they used to own it and still covet the place, they call it Erderea or The Earth!- and in German- 'cos they lived there like almost everywhere- remember the Austro-Hungarian Empire of the Hapsburgs?)

These mountains don't seem to be much explored, mainly because they are thickly forested with particularly fierce scrubland karst. Caves and potholes waiting to be fallen into. Try walking in from Vascau..

You can camp wild no problem in the mountains but be careful of fire. Camp-sites are usually dirty. Keep away from military establishments and stay out of sight of roads and paths. People are really friendly but there's a liberal attitude to property- if you don't look after it someone will liberate it.

You cannot easily obtain food in the mountains so be well prepared. Raspberries and blackberries are in vast abundance in season but you won't buy bread outside town - it keeps well and wonderful huge round loaves will test your backpacking but not your pocket. Apart from bread and marg your concept of food is going to be severely challenged. There's bugger all that you are used to; milk? forget it unless you can kidnap a cow; they don't have it, it's all turned into cheese or more cows/buffalos/wildebeeste make your own mind up what they are. Sheep milk is abundant in the mountains, we were invited into an outstanding hovel by kind folks who kept, reared, protected, sheared, milked, killed, ate, skinned, slept with and slept on - you guessed it - sheep! There was a pan bubbling in the corner and we were sat down to a bowl of curds and whey - spiders sat down beside us but what was worse was the whey which tasted like cream of mutton soup!!!!

Buy whole great sausages to slice but don't be fooled - the dryer greyer more normal looking are gross, go for the red, softer fresher variety and inspect carefully for damage by flies before leaving the shop. Buy gerrt chunks of the local pigs' bum and bash buggery out of it with a chunk of wood whilst chucking on liberal amounts of paprika - then roast it on the fire, preferably on a slab of boilerplate. Eat it with thinly sliced local 'ard cabbage dressed with lemon juice or wine vinegar and peppers. Fruit can be got real cheap. Best of all drink beer when at the bar, Feteasca Negru (Rott Wien) with your pig's bum, and when in the mountains or at every other available opportunity, POLINKA. This is made by everyone with the (ubiquitous) Romanian plum tree, and consists of chucking all the plums into a massive wooden tub and mashing them, then going to sleep/sheep/steep/veg or similar for a good while. In the meantime the whole lot froths up, ferments, then turns into stinking vinegar. Never mind because you can legally distil it, first roughly then more carefully (put that sheep down) and then it goes into empty two-litre Fanta bottles followed swiftly by yer neck

Water, finally you will need to rehydrate;. In the mountains there's animals everywhere, including you. You are advised to boil all water for drinking. Having made that point we drank straight from a spring resurgence like it was the essence of heavenly ambrosia life giving nectar by the litre, fanta bottle after clear cold crystal sparkling fanta bottle. I suspect you could get worse in Yorkshire.

Places of interest:

Alunu; Cave

Astileu; Cave

Avenul Acoperit; Pothole, above Ursului River 3km to the south of Padis.

Avenul Din Batrini; Pothole

Avenul Bortig; shaft I km SW of Ponorului.

Avenul Izoi; Cave, vertical sections.

Avenul Negru; The Black Hole; pothole, 500m south of Acoperit.

Avenul Din Piatra Cetii; Pothole

Avenul Din Sobir; Pothole

Avenul din Tataroaia; Pothole

Apa de la Bulz; Resurgence cave, 3km west of Cascada Bulbuci.

Apa din Ol Cornilor; Resurgence cave.

Apa din V Lesului; Resurgence cave.

Babei; Cave

Baita; Cave

Batrinului; Cave

Bisericuta;; Cave

Boghii; Cave on West facing slope of Piatra Boghii, 2km NW of Plx Padis.

Budului; Cave, to the west of Varasoaia, somewhere N of Boghii valley.

Bulbuci; Waterfall 40 m, falling from the west of the Plateaux Padis.

Caput; Cave where river sinks, S end of Padis Plx..

Cariera De Marmura; Cave

Cetatea Radesii; River goes into 15m high cave, 250m long, N from Varasoaia, Feredeu River, Upper Somesu Cald.

Cetatile Ponorului; Gigantic entrance, 70m high, 30 m wide, 40m high passage follows with two skylights, S of Padis.

Cimpaneasa; Cave

Ciur Izbuc; Cave

Coiba Mare & Coiba Mica; Two joined caves, horizontal labyrinth, water, mud, formations, stream sinks in Coiba Mica, enter by huge Coiba Mare.

Coliboaia; Cave

Corbasca; Cave

Crystal Cave; Secret location in lad valley, reached through Hydro outflow pipe, see AK Record 37 pg7.

Cuptor, La; Cave

Cuptoru; Cave, upper Somesu Cald, camp-site nearby.

Dracoaia; Cave

Fagului; Cave

Ferice; Cave

Filimon; Cave

Finate; Cave

Focul Viu; Ice cave, on Piatra Galbenei, S of Padis Plx..

Galbena Canyon; the river sinking at Ponorului falls into this canyon, contains a through cave.

Galiseni; Cave

Gemanata; 64 m deep pothole, 5km S of Padis Cabana.

Ghetarul Barsa; Cave, see Groapa Barsa.

Ghetarul de la Virtop; Cave

Groapa Barsa; Polje with 11 caves, many sinks and choked shafts; Ghetarul Barsa 400m gallery; also contains Zapodie llkm long system. 5 km SW of Plx Padis.

Gruiet; Cave

Hodobana; 15km system in the western slope of Gida Secu.

Huda Lui Papara; Cave

Hull Cave; See AK Record 37 pg7.

Izbucu Toplitei; Cave

Izvoru Crisului; Cave

Jofi; Cave in Padurea Craiului Mts, N of Beius.

Lesianei; Cave

Liliecilor: Cave

Lunca; Cave

Lythophagus; Stone Eater Cave; Upper lad valley, located in bauxite mine. See AK Record 37 pg8.

Magura; lkm long cave in Sighistel Canyon, good formations.

Meziad; described in detail above.

Moloh; Cave

Moanei; Cave

Muhuchii; Cave

Nyarady, E; Cave

Oilor; Cave

Onceasa; Cave

Os; Cave

Peretele Gardului; Cave in the upper Luncsoara canyon, S of Padis Plx..

Peretele Dirninii; Cave

Pitrarului; Cave

Poarta Lui lonele; Cave

Poarta Smeilor; Cave

Pojarul Politei; Cave

Portile Bihorului; Cave

Pusta Calatea; Cave

Rosie; Cave.

Scarisoara, Ghetarul de; Huge ice cavern at the altitude of Snowdons' summit. Fascinating ice formations, vertical zonation of plants.

Sighistel Canyon; 75 caves here; in places the canyon is 2m wide and 40m deep.

Somesul Cald Canyon; Approached from Cluj past vast lakes, canyon with caves.

Spinare; Pothole, 60m surface shaft, Bihor Mountains, see AK, Record 37, pg8.

Tiboccaia; Cave

Toaia; Cave

Toplita; Cave

Tunelul Mic; interesting stream cave.

Ursilor; Fantastic showcave S of Beius, signposted from the main road.

Vacii; Cave

Vadu Crisului; Cave

Varfuras; Stream Cave in the Bihor Mountains, good formations, see AK, Record 37, pg8

Vilcele, de la; Cave

Vintului; Wind Cave, located in Padurea Craiului. Longest cave in Romania, over 32km. See AK, Record 37, pg9.

Virfurasu; Cave

Virseci; Cave in upper canyon of Galbena River, Valea Luncsoara.

Zapodia; Cave 600m N of Focul Viu, see Groapa Barsa.


Zgurasti; Cave with lake in chamber, 30m high entrance in canyon near Scarisoara.

I will be able to supply more accurate details if people require, also ultra basic maps. If you know more or can correct or improve any of this it's ready and waiting to be updated. I welcome any discussion around a club trip to the area, just say the word and I'll hang out the garlic and sharpen my wooden stakes. You will not regret a trip out. One word of caution though. You must get a visa several months in advance; This is only cheap via the friendship organisation which we worked through. Gemma will be back there over Christmas, and we have an excellent contact for Carpathian winter mountaineering, so hopefully a guide to the other Romanian mountains will be forthcoming. Also northern Hungary southern Slovakian caves and hills under research.

Many thanks to the Czechoslovakian Cavers and the kids from the orphanage in Oradea, Victor, Pop Zoltan, Rovin, Mindruit Florin, Pintuita Viorel, Farcas Sandor, Moldovan Mihai and everyone who helped, got helped and most of all helped themselves..

Tom Thompson

High Noon on Skye

A much reduced party of three, comprising Dave Milner, Andy Roberts and the writer, put down roots for the week in the well appointed Memorial Hut in Glen Brittle, expecting the finest, but fearing the worst of the weather and midgies. The biters were, for the most part little trouble, but our first day dawned as only the misty isle can, with the clag lowering to around 2,000 feet.

The view from the dining room window engendered a crack of eleven start on the Sunday, and following close on the heels of a two hour breakfast (the latter perhaps constituting the hardest part of the day), we headed into Coire Lagan bound for the famous Cioch via Collie's Route up the adjacent gabbro slabs.

A´snarl-up on The Terrace of route 41 allowed us time to consider the pros and cons of using the hard shoulder or overtaking lane to pass the source of the holdup, various roped up parties of rock jock look-alikes. With more respect paid for the Cioch than to the climbers, we eventually emerged from the head of Eastern Gully, and with mist condensing on beards climbed higher into the clouds.

Liberally wetted, the "thin" basalt traverse embracing the pinnacles between Sgur Sguman and Alasdair became distinctly unappetising, rather akin to walking on a tiled floor with a bar of soap tied to each sole! We opted for the chimney by-pass to the mauvais pas, after which the summit of Alasdair leapt out at us suddenly from the murk. Being an easy, acclimatising day we called time and hopped onto the down elevator, soon finding ourselves trundling out onto the scree fan in upper Coire Lagan.

Monday was ushered in with the tops still wrapped up for safe keeping. Still smarting from his failure, the year before, to eke a quick fortune in the McNuggets goldmine, the writer, encouraged by whispered tales of gemstones for the picking, announced an excursion to Talisker Bay. After trawling the littoral fringes for geodes, a tramp across the cliff tops to Fiskavaig and back completed an uneventful, yet dry day.

The following morning was little different, and so weighed down with a brace of gabbro buns, we legged it round to upper Coire a Ghrunnda to marvel at the glaciated rock architecture of the boiler plate slabs. The summit of Sgur Dubh na da Bheinn was traversed, but anticipating a dripping T-D gap, we contoured beneath this seeking a direct route onto the Ghrunnda side of the Great Stone Shoot that a misguided HB believed to exist. Finding ourselves on the summit of Alasdair we concluded that the direct approach was a figment of the imagination and scootled off down the stone shoot (again) back to Brittle.

By Wednesday we were becoming accustomed to marathon breakfasts and with almost 24 hours of daylight there seemed little point in being impetuous. The weather too, had taken an upturn, with the promise of a frazzling in the rock-girt coires. Stepping out shortly before noon we hot-footed it beneath a cloud free sky into Coire A'Mhadaidh intent upon a "look" at the complexities of Bidein Druim nan Ramh.

North Gully was considered, and discounted, as a possible way up on account of what looked like the crux, formed where a stream showered over a jammed boulder the size of family car. An upward scramble to the left of the latter was in itself a source of some entertainment, but the Bealach na Glaic Moire was gained without incident. Here we enjoyed a late lunch with the full splendour of Loch Coruisk spread before us, the peaks of the mainland forming a distant backcloth that disappeared into a guess .

With the day improving by the hour Bidein was left for "another time" in favour of a traverse south down the main Cuillin ridge, taking in the four summits of Sgurr A'Mhadaidh. Crossing the second top gave some exposed down climbing where the writer prudently chose to abseil off. With temperatures rising DM made a leisurely exit at An Dorus, leaving the remaining two to continue along the ridge.

Sgurr A'Ghreadaidh, the Three Teeth, Sgurr Thormaid and Banachdich were crossed in conditions that can only be described as near perfect. A highlight was provided by the vision of brocken-spectres and glories on Banachdich. An end was called at Sgurr Dearg and a descent affected via the west ridge to conclude one of the finest days on Skye that I can recall.

Following the now obligatory high noon start, the following day saw all three climbing to the Bealach Banachdich and the start of what was gazetted as a "light day" in readiness for an attempt at the Dhu Slabs route the day after. The outcome was a clockwise Coire Lagan round with a difference.

On route for the bealach AR became separated somewhere on the north-west side of Sgurr Dearg, and in readiness for the climb to come sought out some obscure exposure and choice areas of loose gabbro. At Sgurr Dearg AR and DM took advantage of some genuine rock jocks, joining forces to make a fine ascent up the sharp end of the In-Pin. Afterwards a slither down the treacherous An Stac screes led onto Mhichoinnich. Collies Ledge provided the route to Bealach Mhichoinnich, and the key to gaining the obscure summit of Sgurr Coir an Lochan, connected to, but located north-east of the main ridge.

This was safely gained by way of a scratty descent from the bealach, a route with nothing to commend it, and hordes of midgies lurking in the shadows to mug passers-by. A broad but narrowing ridge (following the nurz route), was crossed to quickly gain this minor summit (2,491ft). What it lacked in stature however, it more than compensated with the excellent views of Dearg and its unlikely obelisk.

With not a breath of wind to discourage the wee biters, we traversed beneath Sgurr Thearlaich to gain the slabby Bealach Coir an Lochan. While AR and DM waited around to feed the midgies, HB legged it over Sgurr Dubh na da Bheinn, twice, in order to gain the outlying, and very fine summit of Sgurr Dubh Mor. Afterwards, as a variation to dropping down the Great Stone Shoot a third time, we headed for Sgurr Sguman with designs upon the Sguman Stone Shoot, via Ladies' Pinnacle, arriving back at the hut by 10.45 after 12 hours on hot rock.

Friday, the promised "light day" arrived, and with some nursing sore feet we opted for a day at the seaside. A rock cracking session in quest of fossils had the desired effect of working up the appetite. We then made a bee-line for Flodigarry to partake in the traditional cream teas and buns, a well earned treat, or so we thought.

The climax to a superb week came on the journey home. DM continued south for the border while AR and HB stopped off at the head of Glencoe. Under a blistering sun we wilted up the Coire na Tulaich trail to the summit of the Buachaille, to feast our eyes on the magnificent panorama of Rannoch Moor backed by the distant cone of Schiehallion. The worse for feet and heat, AR bailed off back to Lagangarbh, as HB disappeared into the distance, along the 7km ridge to Stob na Broige and back via Lairig Gartain.

Howard M Beck

New Second Deepest in the World

A few weeks ago the cavers' email reported that a Polish expedition to Austria has finally managed to link Vogelshacht and Lamprechtsofen. This has been the aim of many previous Polish expeditions and the possibility of the link has been suggested before. If the report is confirmed then the system will become the second deepest in the world with a depth of 1535m, still some 70m short of being the deepest in the world.

Ric Halliwell

The Silver mines of the Vosges Mountains, France.

I recently became aware of the number of Craven members that travel through my adopted 'home' region of NE France who were unaware of the interesting underground sites that could be visited.

This article describes the history and briefly mentions some of the sporting trips in the mines of the "Val d'Argent". The region is situated 40km southwest of Strasbourg and for cavers on their way to the Alps passing through the area, these mines can provide some interesting caving and give a good historical insight into silver mining as a result of their excellent state of preservation. The majority of the mines are situated around the small town of Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines, reached from the east by taking the N83 from Strasbourg, and turning onto the N59 at Sèlestat, or from the west via St Diè (via a 6km toll tunnel).

The hydrothermal solutions which deposited the minerals in this region were particularly enriched in silver, resulting in this region having the richest silver deposits of France. Copper, lead, zinc, cobalt, arsenic, and antimony minerals were also present in commercial quantities.

It is believed that the first mined galleries were made by the Celtic monks in the 11th century. In the early 16th century interest in silver increased and over 3000 miners moved into the area (mainly from Central Europe), they brought with them new techniques. The mining continued at this high level until 1635 when the 30 years war in the region, and the increasing difficulties in mining the remaining silver resulted in a virtual cessation of activities. In the early 18th century mining began once again but for cobalt, and with the use of new techniques (explosives and better pumping systems) it was possible to mine to even greater depths. This period of prosperity lasted until the French Revolution. In the l9th and 20th centuries some mining activity took place but without any major discoveries.

In total over 150km of galleries were mined, often following faults where the rock was easier to mine. The particular interest of these predominantly 16th century mines is that they were hand worked (prior to explosives), with hammer and chisel, at the rate of about 20-50m per year depending on the hardness of the rock. Thus in abandoned sections it is possible to see the regular score marks and even the abandoned work face. The excavated material was removed using small carts run on wooden rails. Shafts were dug out between levels and the tops of the shafts were widened to create an area where wooden winches could tip the tubs directly into the carts (these can still be seen in flooded shafts where the wood has been preserved). When the entire mineral vein was rich some of the working extended vertically over lOOm. In the 18th century however the use of explosives became widespread and although this resulted in larger workings the deads were stacked on wooden supports which are now hazardous (like many of the 18th century Dales lead mines).

Some of the workings were reopened in 1900 and were made large enough to house electric railways. The last working mines were in 1932-1940 for arsenic.

There are many sporting trips: Nippertstollen, Rèseau de la Fontaine des Chouettes, Gluckauf supèrieur, Rèseau Haus Rappoltstein-Gottesgab, Rèseau Homme Mort, Les Fonds de la Treille, Traversèe Engelsbourg, Saint-Louis, Traversèe Giftgrube, Traversèe Saint-Pierre, and Armèe Cèleste. Most of these trips are in the 16th century mines as they are the most well preserved. These trips include multiple pitches, some up to 50m depth although many shorter, and up to a few kilometres long, depending on the amount explored. However many can visited by through trips from the shafts to adits, and take only 4-5 hours. The adit mine of Saint-Louis has been "restored" with a traditional stoped wooden entrance, wooden rails and inside, a wooden hand winch. Spoil heaps dot the area although they are now over grown and difficult to study.

The total production of silver from the valley is estimated at 300 tonnes. The main ores were galena, tetrahedrite, proustite, and native silver.

Visits to the mines in this region are now coordinated by an organisation: Association Spèlèologique pour l'Etude et la Protection des Anciennes Mines (ASEPAM), who have their headquarters and a small museum at: Centre du Patrimoine Minier, 4, rue Weisgerber, 68160, Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines. Tel.89586211

Any people wanting to visit these mines should either write to the above organisation (in English) or contact me.

John A.Helm


Within a climate of increasing environmental awareness it seemed, to me at least, imperative that an organisation the size of the CPC should have its own Conservation Officer. This role has of course been mooted on numerous occasions in the past, but equally it was one that no one wished to take on board.

The recent decision by your Committee, to affect a complete removal from the fell of all non-combustible refuse from the GG camp, starting with this year, should be viewed as merely the beginning. For me at least it was a catalyst, for I suggested the post of Conservation/Environment Officer, and perhaps more rashly, I volunteered to be the first holder of the position given that there be no other takers.

For generations conservation has been the Cinderella of northern caving, compared for instance with South Wales, where there has been a greater measure of success. Yet why this should be eludes me, though I guess the answer is to be found in attitudes and education.

For some reason many cavers seem to view a cave simply as a hole in the ground, something to be used, abused and, when worn out like an oversuit, discarded in favour of another. A relatively recent case is Hagg Gill Pot, which has suffered wholesale desecration of its once superb formations.

The protection of a cave extends beyond saving cave formations from needless vandalism, or carelessness, but necessarily must also include all interrelated facets of the karst environment, both below and above ground level.

Today our rapidly expanding membership freely enjoys a broad spectrum of activities, but has this been to the detriment of the caves, or at the expense of the environment? Can we all, for instance, categorically say we have been as careful with the fragile works of nature as we would have others believe?

During a recent trip down a classic cave a member said to me in response to the mention of conservation, "I like to enjoy my caving". I read a great deal into that comment. In it I sensed a certain indifference to any need for conservation, fuelled perhaps by suspicion and resentment; suspicion that conservation will somehow interfere with the pleasures of going caving, resentment at any attempts to control what is in essence a free activity.

To enjoy caving is precisely the point. We all derive pleasure from the caves, but if these are reduced to featureless, muddied tunnels, devoid of formations, with drifts of rubbish collecting at every slack bend, then, we might ask, where is the attraction and pleasure in going underground?

The time is long overdue for long-established and respected clubs, like the CPC, to take the lead by conducting meets and activities in a more environmentally friendly manner, to take a part, no matter how indirect, in the education of others into the value of caves and karst. Cleaner GG camps are indeed just the start, but the success of a more sustainable conservation policy, affecting all caves, must necessarily rest with the individual.

As I perceive them, the benefits to the club of having someone in a conservation role are manifold:

a) Engender within its membership a more responsible attitude towards the countryside, its caves, mountains, the habitats and the wildlife it supports.

b) Keep the membership abreast of conservation / environment / wildlife matters, where these might have a relevance to club activities.

c) By representing the club's interests on relevant bodies ensure a club profile on conservation/environment issues, both at local and national level.

d) Ensure the club is at the leading edge of cave conservation within the Dales.

e) Ensure that Gaping Gill camps, and all club meets are conducted in a manner that leaves nothing but footprints.

f) If the club takes a lead in conservation issues, and is seen to be doing so through implementation of a meaningful and positive conservation policy, then hopefully this may smooth along any future negotiations with landowners, tenants, etc, when permission is sought for surface digs.

Your committee has already agreed to an insistence that waste carbide be removed from the cave, and the environs of its entrance, on ALL club meets. Some members I am aware already remove their spent carbide, which is of course a start; if some can do it then we all can.

The final deadline for this rule to take effect, will be the year end (though obviously members don't have to wait until then to comply with it). This will give members adequate time in which to beg, steal, borrow or cobble together suitable waste containers. Because waste carbide rarely is totally spent, rigid, screw-capped containers are obviously unsuitable because of the danger from explosion. The simplest, and safest, is perhaps the type made from a section of car inner tube secured either end.

A CPC conservation policy is in the process of being drafted, and it is hoped that this will be completed and approved by the committee in time for the AGM. Hand in hand with this, I shall over the remainder of the year, and into 1996, be examining the full constellation of club activities within the context of the possible impact upon the caves/environment.

As a part of the NCA initiatives to further cave conservation, they will, in the near future, be seeking volunteers from the caving community and encouraging them to develop and manage cave-specific conservation plans. I am personally interested in Birks Fell Cave, and enquiries are welcomed from anyone who would like to become involved in this or other projects.

The CPC conservation policy, and any relevant changes necessary to the current Leaders' Responsibilities, and the Gaping Gill Operational Policy statement, will be published in a future Record and the next issue of the Handbook.

Comments and suggestions are invited from members on any aspect at all concerning conservation and the environment within the context of the club's sphere of interest. I would be especially interested to hear from anyone keen to become involved with the conservation of any particular cave.

Howard M.Beck

Cave Conservation Plans An Appeal

For cave conservation to stand any chance at all of working, it must have the whole-hearted support of the caving community. Cave conservation measures must be co-ordinated to avoid duplication, and consistent for meaningful results. To this end the NCA has devised its Cave Conservation Policy. This recently published document, a copy of which is deposited in the club library, highlights the threats to caves, both internal and external, and presents guide-lines for conservation initiatives.

The goal to which the NCA, and English Nature, aspires, is eventually to have a sustainable Conservation Plan for every cave system in the country. For this they look towards the caving community, in whose hands the future success, or lack of it, of any plan will ultimately rest.

The onus for conservation clearly rests with the individual, hence the reasoning behind this appeal. Your committee has recently taken the bold step towards embracing conservation in its broadest sense. Moreover, as one of the leading northern clubs there is no reason whatsoever why its members should not be more actively involved in cave-specific plans to preserve the features from which they derive so much pleasure.

Apart from the conservation plan for Knock Fells Caverns, that English Nature themselves devised, there are as yet no plans drawn for a cave in the north. English Nature wish to see progress in a similar direction for other caves, and it is clear from the noises being made, that if cavers themselves are not prepared to take on board the responsibility for conservation, then being a conservation body under statute, they can, and most probably will, take it out of their hands. If this occurs then conservation may involve actions and controls not altogether in the best interests of the sporting caver.

My proposals to the NCA that Birks Fell Cave and Gaping Gill be the first two northern systems to have their own Conservation Plans has been accepted. I have a personal interest in Birks as one of the original explorers of the major extensions of 1968-69, and for this reason I am prepared to work towards the production of a plan for this cave.

Gaping Gill is another matter, a much more complex system, and one with several inter-related issues that will need addressing before a workable plan can be finalised. Both ourselves, and the Bradford Pothole Club, have vested interests in any plan effecting GG. A management team naturally needs to involve participants from both clubs, perhaps past winch meet leaders, cavers with in-depth knowledge of the system, Dr Farrer if this is seen to be desirable, and anyone else simply with the vitality and motivation to make the plan work.

I shall be contacting the BPC directly, inviting interested participants from that quarter. Any club member with an interest in conservation issues, and who would like to become involved in drafting and/or managing a conservation plan for either cave, then by all means contact me for further information.

Howard M.Beck

Birks Fell Cave

During a recent trip down Birks Fell Cave I took the opportunity to make a "snapshot" assessment of how the system is bearing up to the wear and tear of 27 years of human influence. The following are the results of that examination.

The trip took place on Sunday, 9th July using a WRPC permit, the writer being one of a party of 18 persons. The trip took place under low to moderate water conditions, though flood debris between the entrance and Bradford Crawl showed water levels to have recently reached at least head height.

The trip extended as far as the Shale Cavern pitch, and therefore that section of the cave known as the Sewer Series, and the inlet systems of Shooting Box Aven and Aven II fall outside the scope of this brief report.

Throughout the six hour trip the overriding, general impression was of a cave for the most part still as fresh as the day it was first entered. The system clearly is flushed through on a regular basis, and this has had a bearing on its appearance, the latter not therefore necessarily indicating litter, or spent carbide is not discarded in streamways.


The most vulnerable sections of the cave(discounting the straws and erratics of Aven II) are 40 Years Corner, the roof grottos in the vicinity of the Backbreaker breakdown region, Moonmilk passage, the formations in Grand Gallery, White Hall and the Perfection Oxbow.

40 Years Corner: There was no obvious evidence of damage to formation in this locality

Roof Grottoes(near backbreaker): In pristine condition. The nearby flowstone cascade, up which many cavers find the onward route, is remarkably undamaged, possibly due to the hard nature of the calcite and the fact that the formation is still active

Moon Milk Passage: Perhaps the worst effected section of the cave due to the passage being the mainline route. Damage has resulted from walking on the white flowstone deposits.

Grand Gallery: No sign of any damage to wall stal.

White Hall: The magnificent flowstone boss situated here is immediately adjacent to the only route to the bottom of the cave. This makes it all the more amazing that it still appears as I remember it in 1968. It is clear that people rest their hands against the formation to steady themselves in passing, but the formation remains unsullied by virtue of the fact that cavers do not have to negotiate muddy passages beforehand.

Perfection Oxbow: This passage was not entered on this trip because of the delicate nature of the gours and other formations. However from a cursory glance into the passage from the Whitehall extremity, it would seem the passage is not being entered by cavers.


Shooting Box Aven: A tatty length of rope from the 1969 scaling trips still hangs down this aven.

Slipped Floor Chamber: A muddy chamber in which cavers have spread the floor deposits to the stalagmites adorning the floor adjacent to the route down through the boulders.

Bridge Aven: Some carbide dumped on boulders jammed above stream level.

Moonmilk Passage: Floor deposits have suffered extensively due to the fact that a safe route through has never been taped.


On the whole the cave is in a remarkable state of preservation considering the level of usage. Nowhere was there any obvious instances of graffiti or deliberate vandalism. The nature of the system is no doubt self-regulating due to a combination of route-finding and objective difficulties, the latter perhaps ensuring the majority of cavers entering the system are of a more experience, responsible nature.

Howard M.Beck

George Cornes

We have heard from the NPC that their President, George Cornes, the discoverer of Lancaster Hole (and the reason for Cornes Cavern), died on the 7th of September. Many members may have seen the video which was made several years ago to record George's trip from Lancaster Hole to County Pot to celebrate his 80th birthday. It was a memorable film because it showed that George had remembered all his old caving skills, and it also featured John Cordingley carrying George's walking stick, at least that was John's explanation.

In my opinion it also said a lot about caving, not only was there an 80 year old who was silly enough to want to do the trip, but there were around forty people who thought enough of him to help make sure it happened.

George's ashes are to be scattered at Lancaster Hole at 2pm on the afternoon of 28 October.

Ric Halliwell

Review of "Lost Caves of Britain" Video

The opening sequences of this film provide an insight into the complex world of caves and how they are formed, putting this into perspective for the benefit of the non-caver with visits to show cave sites.

Following this the various aspects of speleology are examined with the clear objective of highlighting the value of caves as a storehouse of scientific data. Archaeology, biology, hydrology and geology are all briefly dealt with, showing scientists at work underground.

The second half of the film goes on to look at the unique beauty and variety found in decorated caves, what the complexities of conservation are, the threats from external pressures and also underlining the wear and tear caused by the sheer numbers of cavers themselves.

This film is produced to the high standard that over the years we have come to expect of camera-man Sid Perou. If the appalling musical score can be ignored then this film seems to get across the message of cave conservation reasonably well.

The film ends with a clear message to cavers, that the success of conservation rests firmly in their actions. It should be required viewing for all members, particularly the novice and probationer.

Filmed by Sid Perou

Narrated by David Attenborough

System: VHS Viewing Time: approx 30 mins

Howard Beck

Review of "Inca Gold" by Clive Cussler

For those who prefer armchair caving bits of this book are a must. It has a diving sequence in a cenote with an intermittent strong current which washes people into a connected cave. The hero climbs out of the shaft using a footloop tied to a geological hammer and another tied to a hook fashioned out of a belt buckle, which he admits does get bent towards the end of the climb.

"He didn't know a piton (a metal spike with a ring in one end) from a carabiner{sic}(an oblong metal ring with a spring closing latch that hooks the climbing rope to the piton). He vaguely knew rapelling had something to do with descending a rope that wrapped under a thigh, across the body and over the opposite shoulder.....he lifted the hammer as far as he could reach, slightly off to one side, and rapped the pick end of the hammer into a limestone pocket. Then he placed his free foot in the loop and pulled himself to a higher stance up the wall.....He repeated the process, first with the C hook then with the pick hammer, moving up the steep wall with his arms and legs articulating like a spider." Obviously real men don't need a chest harness to stop them falling backwards!!

Later on the book gets even better with a 100km caving trip in a Hovercraft, including down several waterfalls and having a fight with the bad guys on the way! The geologist explains that "About 60 million years ago a shift in the earth caused a fault in the limestone, allowing water to seep in and carve out a series of connecting caverns....I believe the main section of the river system flows through a fault in the earth. If I'm right the channel will travel in an erratic path but with a reasonably level depth. As underground rivers go, this one is enormous. In sheer length it must be the longest unexplored subterranean water course through a field of karst." The explorers are also given "a plastic packet in the shape of a basketball but half the size. 'A dye called fluorescein Yellow with Optical Brightener. I'll buy you the best Mexican dinner in the Southwest if you'll throw it into the river when you reach the treasure chamber. That's all. As it floats along the river the container will automatically release the dye over regular intervals'"

I won't spoil the interest by letting you in on more secrets of how to go caving (as revealed by this book), you'll just have to go out and read it for yourself.

Ric Halliwell

Jottings from the Committee


Ian Buchanan had written resigning from the Committee because ill health had prevented him from attending many meetings. Bridon reported that they had lost the sample of rope sent to them. It was agreed that the tacklekeeper should carefully inspect the new reel of rope to investigate whether or not it shows the same problem. Six new ladders had been added to the stock at Horton. The Conservation Officer reported that he was preparing a draft Club Conservation Policy document. It was agreed that in response to a request from the tenant farmer, no members' vehicles would be permitted to drive up to GG during the winch meet.


It was noted that the problems with lifelines appeared to affect some of the new ropes and a further sample had been dispatched to the manufacturer. Scaffolding had been place around the Riverside chimney to facilitate repairs. It was agreed that the Committee would endorse proposals to change Rule 9 of the Constitution at the forthcoming AGM. After a long discussion it was agreed that all surveying and drilling equipment belonging to the Club should in future be stored at Horton, and that a log of the usage of this equipment should be maintained and reviewed after six months. It was agreed that the Club, like several other UK Caving Clubs, should have a free WWW page so that we could be contacted via Internet. It was suggested that the Club should consider establishing a carbide store at Horton, but it was agreed that detailed costings would be needed before any final decision could be made. After a lengthy discussion it was agreed that, whilst Gaping Gill had again been a most successful meet, a number of members should be asked to attend the next meeting of the Committee to explain their actions.


The members in question attended the meeting and those that were required to do so gave assurances about their future conduct. One member was issued with a formal reprimand. It was reported that one of the Club battery packs had been damaged beyond repair as a consequence of persons unknown replacing the correct fuse by a 25amp fuse. The Cottage Warden announced the installation of new bunk beds in Riverside and an intended purge on perishable foods left at the Cottage.

About members

Changes of address:

B Andrews, P Barling, D Goodwin, M Hyrnyk, A Knight, P McKirgan, M McPherson, S Rowling, M Stebbings, A & B Weight.

We welcome the following as new members of the Club:

Robert Bethell, Hugh Dowling, Kevin Gannon, Cliff Poole, Henry Rose.

The following have been accepted as Probationary members and will probably be attending meets during the next few months:

John Chapman, Sean Stephen Howe, Mary Hunkin, Thomas Barry Hunkin, Donald Kenneth Kelly, Karen Ann Lane, Nick Langley, Roger Stevens, Jack Taylor, Susan Towson, Jon Woodhead.


We are pleased to announce the arrival of a daughter, Christiana, for Martin (Fred) & Annette Fredrickson.

Fancy Digging?

Tom Thompson has informed me that he has found a new cave on a big blank bit on the map. It is currently only 5 or 6 metres long ending in a sandy choke with a sinking stream. He is looking for members to help him with the dig so why not give him a ring and go along to help. We were successful in GG, we will be successful in Sell Gill, why not make it a triple event and help Tom with this dig.