GSG Newsletter 146
27 April 2011
GSG Annual General Meeting 2011
The 2011 GSG AGM was held in Elizabeth and Derek's house in Winchburgh on Saturday 5th February and was attended by 19 members - not quite the record attendance of the previous year but a good turnout nonetheless. Below is a summary of the main points:
Office Bearers Reports:
Reports were tabled and are available to members on the GSG server. A copy of them and the accounts for 2009/10 is distributed with this Newsletter to all members.
- Chairman's report - The Chairman commended the Jubilee Committee for their efforts so far in organizing events for 2011.
- Hut Warden's report - A request was made to support the hut maintenance programme.
- Treasurer's report - we are still maintaining a healthy bank balance which can be used to promote our activities as well as support the Jubilee events.
- Tacklemaster's report - Usage of club equipment has been steady throughout the year. The Tacklemaster has proposed we purchase some new lamps. He also requested any members that have spare caving wear that they could lend out to beginners to please let him know.
- Hon recorder's report - there has been a good amount and range of caving done this year.
Election of Office Bearers
All office bearers were willing to be re-elected. Rebecca Carter had served as Ordinary member for two years, and wished to stand down. She was however willing to continue to contribute with responsibility for training, and would attend committee meetings as required for this role.
Recorder - Alan Jeffreys
Caving Secretary - Ross Davidson
Secretary - Elizabeth Ellis
Treasurer - Ivan Young
Hut Warden - Peter Dowswell
Chairman - Peter Dowswell
Tacklemaster - Andy Peggie
Ordinary Member - VACANT
If anyone wishes to serve on the Committee as an Ordinary Member, please let one of the Committee know.
For this the anniversary year, it had been agreed at the previous AGM that the Annual Dinner would be held in Assynt. Rosemary kindly volunteered to help identify suitable venues and menus. The date is provisionally when BST ends on October 29th. The Inch is obviously one possible venue, but there is also Inchnadamph Lodge plus external caterers if the hotel is closed. That choice might lead to a buffet style meal. Alternatively we might travel just that bit further to one of the Ullapool hotels.
Caves of Assynt is anticipated! Caves of Schiehallion expanded to cover a wider area could be next, and the Jubilee publication despite a severe case of memory loss will be ready for the Jubilee.
Meets and Expeditions
A full meets list is being prepared and circulated. Of note was the planned expedition to Slovenia this summer. Details have been circulated.
The Jubilee publication had run into some difficulty due to a hard disc failure, but with the help of members it was hoped that the material could be put together again quickly. The main events for the celebrations - Reception and Dinner - were highlighted. Details have been circulated to all members and more information is in this Newsletter.
If anyone would like to see a full copy of the minutes, just email me and I can email them out to you. If you have Internet access you can read them on the GSG private web server (see page 12).
The GSG Jubilee Events - 50 Years of Scottish Caving
Work on constructing an exhibition highlighting the GSG's accomplishments in half a century of exploration is proceeding. Ex-shop manikins are being modified and clothed as cavers, photographs and captions describing our discoveries printed, pop up posters designed, and exhibits for a display cabinet selected. It should all come together in time for the reception in May. Afterwards the intention is put it on display in appropriate locations around Scotland. Ullapool museum and the Lochinver visitor centre are likely places in Sutherland; possibly the Elphin Community Centre as well. Dynamic Earth is a likely location in Edinburgh and other possibilities are under review.
The exhibition and reception in the Royal Society of Edinburgh's premises in 22-26 George Street has been moved to the afternoon of Friday 27th May. We decided the 6th was not a very good choice as some other minor events are scheduled for the previous day - the Scottish election plus the referendum on voting. The delay also gives an extra three weeks to get everything ready!
Many GSG members and ex-members are behaving true to type and making haste slowly with their bookings for the Jubilee dinner. Please don't delay as we really need to know well in advance how many are going to be there. Many of you indicated that you would come, but until you actually sign up for it, we cannot count you in. As you might deduce the prospect of having to ration tickets to members and ex-members only has faded away, so book now and bring all your friends as well!
The band for the ceilidh after the dinner has been booked and the design for the beer label has been crafted by Gonzo. The chosen name is 'Great Northern BRAIN WRECKER'.
One pre-dinner activity suggested by Martin and Kirsty Mills is in the nature of a historical tour. The suggestion is we visit the many Tuesday evening watering holes of the GSG. This sounds a suitably onerous outing for us and we'll schedule it for the Friday to allow recovery time before the dinner. It will need some careful planning and possibly an early start to allow the more aged members to navigate their Zimmers around the Edinburgh pavements and potholes. Several questions need to be answered first. Most important is what should be included. A quick count gives nine but two are no longer public houses, so do we still visit the locations or ignore them? Do we order them in time sequence, or to minimise travelling, or start with the highest and travel downhill all the way? And since 'The Zodiac' renamed to first 'Peppers' then 'The Cambridge' should we visit it thrice??? And most important, should it be a full pint in each or do we admit that would be beyond most of us and content ourselves with a half?
We'll spend some time with maps and pints one Tuesday and craft a schedule. It'll then be distributed to all so folk can join when they want, or can choose to start late and catch up. Let us know if you'd like to join us so we can plan for the right number.
A list of suitably subterranean trips is being assembled for the dinner weekend. If you want to join in please reserve your place by contacting us. In recognition that folk may not want to get covered in mud, while some trips will be visits to local mines and caves, others will be more suitable to those who'd prefer more leisurely and cleaner venues.
- Gilmerton Cove - Edinburgh members visited this intriguing underground dwelling in October last year (NL 144 p14). Jim Salvona has booked a tour for 3:30pm on Saturday. The Cove is only ten minutes drive from the dinner venue and is likely to be popular so get your bookings in quickly to Ivan. More tours may be added if there is enough interest. Advertised cost is £5 for adults payable when you arrive there. More details at http://www.gilmertoncove.org.uk/.
Edinburgh Underground Tours - John Crae is arranging some underground tours of famous parts of Edinburgh. First there are two commercially operated tours:-
South Bridge History Tour: departs 12, 2 or 4 pm (lasts 75 minutes) £9 per head - http://www.mercattours.com/the-historic-vaults.asp
Mary King's Close: departs every 20 minutes 10 am - 9 pm (lasts 60 minutes) £11.50 each - http://www.realmarykingsclose.com/
These can be booked individually (for either Saturday or Sunday) but if a group of 15 or more is interested then a reduced price can be arranged. A group booking also allows more flexibility on start times and avoids the necessity to queue.
In addition an off the tourist route tour has been arranged of the surviving parts of David's Tower and the vaults below the Queen Anne Building at Edinburgh Castle (approximately 60 minutes). Places on this tour are strictly limited (10 persons only).
If enough members are interested we intend to visit Mary King's Close in the morning with the South Bridge Tour in the early afternoon followed by the Castle Tour finishing about 4 pm allowing time to prepare for the Evening dinner.
It is not necessary to go on all three tours but please let John know which tours you wish to attend as soon as possible as some shuffling of times and numbers may be required. Contact John at 0131 554 1054 in the evening or email him at john.crae @ scotland.gsi.gov.uk
- Caves - There are a limited number of caves within easy reach of Edinburgh. Jeanie Barries is an obvious candidate and there are several in Fife, some of historic interest eg East Wemyss Caves. It would also be possible to make a day trip west to Cleaves Cove in Ayrshire or north up the A9 to Shiehallion and Trinafour, but local mines give a lot more passage per mile travelled.
- Mines - Edinburgh is surrounded by old limestone mines: Bowden Hill, Levenseat, Pathhead, and Middleton to name but a few. Others include oil shale mines at Whitequarries, silver at Alva and Hilderston (mostly inaccessible), fire clay at Birkhill and, a bit further afield, lead at Tyndrum.
If you are interested in any of these sites or wish to suggest others contact Ross who will attempt to assemble like-minded bodies together for meets on Saturday and Sunday.
Titled 'Decades in the Dark', this celebration of fifty years of GSG caving has been collated by Goon, and should be available for distribution at the dinner. It has about 160 pages, includes over 370 photographs, and contributions from 27 other GSG members are bound together by Goon's history of the Group. It is A4 in size and in greyscale except for a full colour front cover and sixteen pages of photographs. If you haven't ordered your copy yet better do it soon as only one printing is planned and we won't be ordering many extra.
GSG Badges and Ties
A sew-on GSG crest has been produced and is now available from Goon. It is in full colour and is the same size (4" / 10cm diameter) as the version we had in the 70's, but the embroidery is of a better quality and it is a much more faithful reproduction. A comparison can be seen on the GSG private web server between the new badge and a vintage one sown on my old duvet jacket. Buy a new badge from Goon at £5 plus postage and sew it to your jacket, rucksack or other item of apparel.
Out stock of GSG ties is running out (only a couple left at £5 - contact Ivan) and since we anticipate a keen demand for use at the Jubilee dinner more are going to be ordered. More details later.
GSG Jubilee Slovenia Expedition
It is only just over four months before we head to Slovenia. I now need a definite list of those attending. So even if you have already told me please tell me again. Email me the dates you will be at Speleocamp, and tell me if you are interested in the trip down to Croatia as the Croatian cavers are expecting a few of us around about the 6th August for a few days. I'd also like more details from you.
In order to help co-ordinate transport within Slovenia/Croatia please tell me how you are travelling, whether driving out or fly and car hire. This way we might be able to share hire cars and keep costs down. At the AGM it was suggested that the club hire a mini bus and drive out. I investigated and found that to be very costly and a minefield of red tape. Getting willing drivers who would probably have to provide their own insurance could also be a problem. Certainly, when investigated, the cons far outweighed the pros.
So depending on people's chosen routes (see Julie's comparison of flight routes GSG NL 143 p11), we might, with some co-ordination, be able to share car hire. I personally think I will book with Jet2 who fly from Scotland to Venice which is only a couple of hours drive from Speleocamp, but check with the car hire company as not all of them will let you take the vehicle out of Italy. I will hopefully be travelling on Monday 1st Aug returning 11th or 12th.
Also if any one has booked roofed accommodation directly with Frenk please let me know. Once I have a list of definite numbers I can let Frenk know if we are not going to fill all of the accommodation so he can release it to other groups. Please send me all the information before the end of April.
As indicated we are expected in Croatia on the 6th. What is lined up cavewise I do not know yet, but I will endeavour to find out more in the near future, and also where to stay down there.
NOTE:- Fraser's home email address has changed.
There have been two more site condition monitoring trips for SNH. The first in mid-February was to Claonaite by Ivan, Julian Walford and John Crae. With the Elephant Trap resurging and higher risings also flowing, prospects were dubious, but we continued. On the way I looked at the section of cliff to the left of the Bone Caves and rephotographed it. There's been no change from last year though a gouge in the talus slope now shows where a boulder had fallen from high above.
This was a forerunner of what we found at Claonaite - a boulder sitting in the entrance. It had fallen from the top of the cliff and sits quite neatly in the hole. If it was a little larger we wouldn't have been able to get in. As it was, Julian managed to manoeuvre it to allow us to squeeze past it. We'll have to remove it, but it could be a challenge as it is of pink quartzite and not as easy to drill or split as dolostone (What the BGS now call the Durness dolomitic limestones).
Once in Claonaite we quickly ran through the locations to monitor as far as the duck at the corner before the sump. We decided that the water was high enough to have closed the sump bypass so abandoned the trip and instead tidied up some loose ends on the monitoring programme in ANUSC followed by Julian freeing the self-starting siphon of mud and restarting it.
John and Julian also checked Campbell's Cave and found some of the retaining wall has collapsed and a pile of clean washed rocks and gravel now partially blocked access to the main (upstream) dig face. It didn't look too difficult to dig out.
At the end of March Julian and Ivan returned to Claonaite with new member Tam Barton. This time nothing was flowing upstream of a placid Elephant Trap and in the cave there was plenty of airspace through the sump bypass. One thought is that the stream channel at the exit from Sump 1 has acquired a bottom load of pebbles and small rocks. Anyone in there with a few spare minutes could clear them out. If they keep building up the sump level will rise and the bypass will be closed more often.
This time we went straight to the furthest point to be monitored - in Viaduct Series at the end of the East Block - and worked our way back from there. We struggled to find any change from the baseline visit in 2002. The only change found (apart from the boulder in the entrance) was a rock in the Viaduct Series passage that had moved by a metre or two since 1981 - kicked by a passing caver no doubt - and a broken lump of flowstone in Claonaite One that had been moved - probably by floods.
We still have more work in Rana Hole and Claonaite Seven to do to complete the work, but we have submitted a preliminary report to SNH based on photographs taken since the breakthrough in Rana at the end of 2007. For the work done so far SNH have paid most of the agreed contract price and managed to carry the rest over into their new financial year. We now have another three months to complete the job.
New Discoveries in Applecross
During the 2009 SCRO exercise in Applecross, Derek Pettiglio and Ross Davidson unblocked the entrance to what is thought to be Flake Pot - a vertical slit in the streambed below Cave of the Liar. A small chamber could be seen below, but it was too tight for anyone to enter. Flake Pot was 'opened up' by Bill Lindsay and sons in spring 1987 and was reported to enter 20m of low passage ending downstream in a boulder choke. In the March 1988 GSG Bulletin, Bill reported that an unprecedented flood had, amongst other changes, filled Flake Pot with debris washed down the streamway and nothing more was reported for the next 20 years.
This year our local members David Morrison and Ritchie Simpson went to tackle it. First they found another short cave in the true left bank of the stream channel only a few metres from Flake Pot. They have now surveyed it at 6 m of passage with "some hanging boulders to add character." It is almost possible to stand at one point.
However, to return to Flake Pot and in Ritchie's words...
Saturday 2 April 2011 - Some good news
Today David, Jane (David's girlfriend) and myself headed over to Applecross to have another go at Flake Pot. Armed with a large bar, 2 hammers, 3 chisels a drill and caps we were confident of making progress, but for 2 falls, a submission or a knockout. To our surprise we were met by a lot of water pouring down the usually dry streambed and into Flake Pot. After the initial attempt to redirect it into a small opening next to the pot (with no effect), David began drilling and after a while placed two caps into the hole. After several minutes of hammering at the firing rod, to no avail, I had a go and it wasn't until many attempts later that it finally went off, taking a good piece off the side wall and most of the hearing from my right ear (yes, I was wearing ear plugs!) David then took over and had a go with the hammer and chisel before having a go at getting in.
In the meantime I was looking upstream to see if the stream could be diverted higher up, but again it was not possible. Returning to the cave David had exited saying he was virtually in but couldn't quite commit to it. Knowing we were so close to opening up the cave I had a go. It is still a bit of a squeeze, but did not feel as bad as the previous visit and before I knew it I was in and getting a soaking in the process.
Upstream ended at a choke after about 2 metres but downstream is a different matter. A flat crawl for a few metres soon widens and becomes large enough to stoop. The right wall is very like Little Shale Street in Cave of the Liar and there are some straw stal before further on a sizable lump of flowstone can be seen. This is at a point where a 3 metre pitch is found with the water disappearing down it. Whooping with delight I then made my way back out getting even wetter, if that was possible, and before long David was in. On returning he mentioned seeing leads off the main passage. Needless to say we'll be back very soon with ladders and hopefully a few pics. We reckon the downstream passage visited was about 15 metres with, hopefully, more to go, especially given the amount of water it takes.
Monday 4 April 2011 - And a little more
We are just back from another visit to Flake Pot. Despite there being a lot of rain today the surface streamway was dry which was a relief and entering the cave is becoming easier (no doubt by familiarisation). We soon reached the pitch head which is approx. 3.5m and leads down to the main chamber/pot which is approx. 6m long, 5m wide and 8m high. An annex was easily dug through and is approx. 4m long 3m wide and 6m high and what seems to be a high level connection between the two areas. There are voids in the floor of the main chamber which looked promising, but are filled with rubble from flooding. It will be a time-consuming job to clear them, but it could be worth it given the dimensions of this cave. The flowstone mentioned in my last email was a lot larger than expected and there appears to be a small passage running behind it.
There is no open passage leading on from here, but back up before the pitch a small passage was looked at. This could be worth some effort as it seems to change to a narrow high(ish) rift with some dodgy looking hanging boulders. We both took photographs and I also shot some video which with some of the photos in now on YouTube at
Editor:- Photos are in the photo gallery on the GSG private web server
Gaping Gill via Marilyn Pot (Disappointment Pot)
Meet report - Saturday 26 February 2011 Present:- Peter Dennis, Annie Audsley and Andy Morgan
Arrangements for the weekend were made by Ross Davidson but sadly he succumbed to a flu-like bug and called off at late notice. Andy kindly collected necessary ropes and travelled down alone, Annie arrived at Green Close from Sheffield and I rode up from Aberystwyth on the motorbike; a journey through inclement weather akin to a continuous car wash programme!
We set off to descend Marilyn Pot (permit arranged by Ross) after an Inglesport breakfast on the Saturday morning. After the long walk in from Clapham and initial difficulties finding the distinctive capped lid, a passing caver pointed us in the right direction, a spot very much closer to Bar Pot than the grid reference suggested. Further delays were experienced when we reached the 'open' grid cap already rigged and with a distinct smell of resin wafting from the narrow access pot. Voices could be heard not far below so we waited for the party (two Bradford members) to ascend and derig. Sure enough as suggested by the odour rising from the pot, they had been placing the final p-hangers at the main ledge of Niagara pitch. The consequence of course was that we would not be able to use the hangers at this level and the suggestion was made that we could descend to look at the pitch but probably no further or access Gaping Gill elsewhere.
So we agreed to descend what was accessible and I set off down rigging the pitches. "Seven Year Pitch" was a straightforward drop onto a flat base direct from the novel rig starting with a 'y' from two short pipes set vertically into the concrete rim, with a rebelay on the grid cover. "Some Like It Hot" was more challenging, a narrow, off-vertical fissure with lots of sharp flakes catching oversuit and SRT kit alike. After a rebelay to prevent similar effects on the rope, it opened out to land on a small ledge. "Gentlemen Prefer Blonde" was a short continuation again in fairly constricted surroundings. This accessed the short, blasted crawl to the stance above "Niagara" (23 m pitch). Here, a mixture of spits and recently placed p-hangers provided a y-hang from the right wall so that the rope would hang just clear of the first ledge below but would clearly contact the second, larger ledge. One of the p-hangers looked as though it was very recent, so I added a bolt hanger to a spit to supplement the belay before the descent.
This location was fairly grim, with wet mud and rocks slumping from the sloping walls and ledge at the head of this pot - hence it was descended with due care. I abseiled to the 45 degree sloping ledge and here found the new p-hangers positioned to allow a full rebelay. I considered the options for descending the lower section of the pot without using these fresh hangers (still strongly smelling of wet resin) or suffering rope rub. Shortly afterwards, spotted a spit to the right and fitted a bolt hanger to this and decided to add a short sling as a deviation to pull the rope clear of the ledge and decided this was secure enough to complete the descent. Very pleased to drop onto the ledges of the Disappointment streamway and ducked right out of the drop zone for falling rubble in the aven - evidence of recent fallen rock lay all around the floor of the pot. Called up that the rope was clear and Andy descended followed later by Annie.
We then enjoyed the fine streamway of Disappointment and the interesting pitches 3 to 5, especially the character and situation of the fifth pitch that descended over a prominent ledge into a grand chamber. Once we reached the rubble floor here, time was already short so we ventured on through the block filled constriction in the floor and popped out into the feed stream to Hensler's Streamway. Explored the streamway to the left, then Andy head out so that he might make it back to Clapham before our call-out time was exceeded. Annie and I explored the streamway to the right to enter the impressive Hensler Master Cave and we explored some of the side tunnels before returning. Back at the T-junction Annie set off back whilst I spent a few minutes in the nearby low arched tunnel crawling towards Mud and Old Hensler's Crawls before returning to the Disappointment inlet. Followed Annie up the three Disappointment streamway pitches, derigging and packing up kit as I went and passed the full rope bag on to her so that she could head directly out. Kept well clear of Niagara until the call of "Rope free" from Annie and then steadily ascended and packed bags, including time on spanner work to remove the bolt hangers from spits at the main ledge and pitch head. The upper pitches were tight and awkward to pull through in places but eventually reached the grid lid and swung up through the gap over the concrete lip - to be greeted by a fine starry sky. Packed up the kit and embarked on the long walk down to Clapham where Andy and Annie were waiting in the car, parked by the church. It was now 21:30h but Andy had arrived back in time to change and drive down to Greenclose to wipe off the trip details (with 21:00h call out time). Being too late for a pub meal, we enjoyed a late communal meal at Greenclose.
On the Sunday, after contemplating doing the convoluted descent of Jingling Pot, Kingsdale, a combination of tired muscles, wet kit and inappropriate rope lengths changed plans to that of a wander up Great Douk streamway. This was very pleasant but less so once flat out in the considerable stream flowing from the branched junction near the terminus. Made some progress towards the link with Middle Washfold but retreated before reaching the hole in the roof and the drier crawl out. Annie investigated the right hand branch in case I had gone the wrong way and soon became embedded in the muddy section of streamway, so we did the sensible thing and retraced our steps to end a fine weekend of caving adventures. Packed up and said farewells at Greenclose then I set off for West Wales on the bike following a late lunch. This time with clear skies and fine views - although fairly cold and crisp.
2010 Croatian Expedition Photos
Hugh Penney has heard from Kresimir the leader of the caving group from Croatia who visited Assynt, Yorkshire and S Wales last year. His photos of their trips with us in Assynt and the rest of their stay in the UK can be found at:- picasa
A long-standing ambition of Goon was achieved on February 20th when he and five other members travelled to Ayrshire to visit and survey Cleaves Cove, an interesting phreatic maze of horizontal passages high in the south bank of the Dusk Water near Dalry. A mixed compass and DistoX survey was done with Ivan measuring the legs and Goon taking passage and station details assisted by John Crae. Total slope distance of the survey was 197m and there were eight closed loops. The DistoX hadn't been calibrated for a while so the compass was also used and the two readings compared.
Most of the loops closed well except - the main loop! And for that one I had used the compass only on the longest leg, and that before finding that my lamp was influencing it. When we go back to check passage details I'll redo the suspect legs.
The survey agrees very well with that published in 1885 though descriptions that mention nine entrances are only true for something much smaller than the smallest human. There were originally six entrances, but the large westernmost Grand Entrance is now blocked by collapse of the overhanging roof. It could probably be opened up again quite quickly. The other three 'entrances' are, I think, the result of including three narrow fissures shown on the old plan in the count.
2011 Meets and Events
If there is a particular cave you'd like to visit please let me know - preferably with one or two dates when you might be able to make it. If you have ideas for the Jubilee Dinner weekend send them to me and let's see what we can arrange. Contact Ross Davidson with your suggestions
- Sophie May - was a member of Cambridge University Caving Club for a year with some SRT experience. She has now moved to Edinburgh.
- Tamlin (Tam) Barton - is an archaeologist working in Perth at present and had done some caves in New Zealand. He's now visited the far reaches of Claonaite Three, been in ANUSC and experienced his first GSG lamp failure, definitely qualifying him for membership. His last trip was an introduction to SRT in Yordas Cave.
- Becki Carter - organised a well-attended training event on knots. Andy Peggie hosted the event at his house and provided pizza and pop for all. Mark Lonnen and Annie Audsley supplied the tuition and had everyone tying figures of eight, alpine butterflies and bunnies, and, more difficult, the rethreaded versions of the first two. After the pizza all shifted to Andy's garage to try the knots out by rigging traverse lines and pitches from the roof trusses. A very useful introduction to rigging for those new to the subject and, since several members couldn't attend, probably one to be repeated.
- Ivan - recently gave talks on Scottish caving to Glenrothes Hillwalkers' Club and on the Claonaite bear bones and other discoveries to Edinburgh Archaeological Field Society. Rana Hole obviously featured in both talks, and I suppose it was not surprising that members of both audiences had seen our excavations and had been wondering just what lay beneath.
Nigel Robertson - reports from New Zealand that "Our only recent caving has been to Nikau Cave on the Limestone Downs north of Hamilton: http://www.nikaucave.co.nz/ It's a 'show' cave - no lights, you get a torch to carry. Pretty neat place though and even involves belly crawling in water which certainly 'excited' the non-cavers in the party we were in. The cave has a campsite and cafe nearby where we went for a long weekend. Have just added the photos to Flickr so you can see them there at - http://www.flickr.com/photos/easegill"
This year's hut bookings' calendar is pretty busy to the end of June, so if you are thinking to go up there please check out how busy it is first. The Mendip invasion is promising to be particularly busy this year and runs from Friday 21st April through to the beginning of May. In addition to up to 20 people staying at the hut there are also two groups staying in cottages. If you intend going up then, could you please let me know.
Hopefully, having now got the foundations completed, we will make some decent progress on the shed extension and getting the re-harling done where it's needed. If you're available please help on the hut-building week-ends. In addition to the shed we may also make some improvements to the track. More detail will be available later.
The Highland Fling evening in mid-February featured a Scottish non-haggis menu from chef Dowswell and was attended by nine members. The Peter-less March meet saw Rosemary and Carol feeding eleven with haggis neeps and tatties plus a selection of desserts all for £2.50 per head. Another enjoyable evening and many thanks from all at both events to the hard-working cooks.
Film Review Cave of Forgotten Dreams (Werner Herzog, 2011) Rated U
The UK premiere of this pioneering 3-D film took place on the evening of Tuesday 22 March followed by a simultaneous live interview with the Director amongst selected cinemas across the UK, coordinated by More4. The acclaimed director, Werner Herzog has produced a spectacular caving experience which uses 3-D technology to augment the spectacular stal, boneyards and cave paintings of Chauvet cave in the Ardèche gorge in the south of France. Herzog expounds the philosophy that documentaries should not be "Fly on the Wall" but "The Hornet that Stings", so the whole experience is enthralling, informative but also avant-garde, surreal and wondrous.
On 13 December 1994, Chauvet and two speleologist colleagues explored a ledge of a cliff face in the Ardèche gorge in the south of France. Sensing a slight draught of air rising through broken rock, they cleared a narrow access crawl and entered a cave of spectacular natural beauty and unimaginable significance for human culture. The cave was promptly sealed after a secure doorway and walkway were installed for limited access by scientists. Last year, after much lobbying and persuasion, Herzog gained permission to enter the cave with a minimal film recording team and set to work using 3-D to capture the spectacle of the cave and its significance for mankind in 4 hour visits over a few days about one year ago.
The significance is the abundance of human art: images of large mammalian herbivores and predators of the period 32 000 years ago when the cave was open to the valley. A massive rockfall since has sealed the cave from outside influence and preserved art and boneyards alike. Herzog allows the character, eccentricity and enthusiasm of various experts who have intimately experienced the cave art within the cave to animate these wonderful drawings. The resulting film gripped my attention and filled me with a sense of wonderment about the sophistication of our distant ancestors. It inspires reflection on what it means to be human and our interaction with the world around us. I left with the images of cave bear, tarpan, auroch, rhino and mammoth, all so skilfully overlaid upon the sculptured cave walls and framed in recesses, processing through my mind. A truly inspiring documentary in which the 3-D has subtly recreated the original undulating sweeps of these animals upon the rocks.
Highly recommended, as if you had not already appreciated.
Editor:- Cave of Forgotten Dreams is showing now throughout the UK in both 3D and normal versions. I did hear one reviewer say that he thought that the non-3D version was better, so perhaps you should go to both and then tell us which you thought best!
Booklet Review: De Profundis By Alan L. Jeffreys.
A Personal Miscellany of 50 Years Impressions in Verse.
This is a fine array of poems penned by Goon to celebrate fifty years of caving - at times reflective, at times serious, often amusing and always entertaining. Over the years we have been treated to many Gnome Odes, but here there is much that is more profound.
Not constrained by any particular genre he has penned lines in everything from free verse to ballad to Haiku, with a parody of G & S's Modern Major-General thrown in for good measure.
Although there will be more resonance for those of us who have been around the GSG for a long time and actually remember some of the things that he reminisces about, the sentiments will be recognised by all. There is a lot of wit and good humour and for some reason, as Goon points out in the foreword ... 'emotions triggered by caving emerge more efficiently though the medium of poetry.' The text is also interspersed with some fine drawings (mostly) by Snab.
Altogether, a fine addition to the Jubilee Year which I would recommend to anyone.
Available direct from Alan for £3 plus postage
Four miles north of Invergordon there is a network of manmade tunnels and caverns forming the decommissioned Inchindown Fuel Depot. Excavated in the 1930's as a bombproof fuel oil store for the Royal Navy it is now empty and it is possible to visit by arrangement with the landowner. More information and many photographs can be found at http://www.corestore.org/Inchindown.htm
Preston White lives nearby and is going to try and arrange a visit for the GSG. Though there has been no reported problem with air quality we'll borrow the SCRO's gas detectors when we visit. Once a visit has been arranged details will be emailed to all members.
Don't forget to visit the GSG private web server at https://members.gsg.org.uk/ where photos of many GSG meets and events can be viewed, and you can find the latest address list and copies of Newsletters and Bulletins et cetera. If you have an email address you can receive this Newsletter as plain text (no photos) as well as announcements about GSG meets, events and other news. Just send an email to Ivan and he'll add you to the GSG's distribution list.
- ELKCAL - The Elphin Knockan and Ledmore Community Association Ltd have now signed up for a 25 year lease of the school from Highland Council for £1. A full programme of events is listed on their website including Wednesday Summer Markets every few weeks until August, a Dog Show on Saturday 21 May, Summer Activities Day on Saturday 11 June, a Music Festival on Saturday 9 July and many more including the election and referendum on 5th May as the school remains the local polling station. Full programme detail on the web site at http://www.elkcal.co.uk/
- Assynt MRT - Ten members of the team ran, cycled and kayaked their way along the West Highland Way from Milngavie to Fort William in 20 hours. It was planned for December, but the weather caused it to be postponed to the end of January. It raised £3,400 towards their target of £5,000 for new equipment.