GSG Newsletter 145

January 2011

GSG Annual Dinner 2010

The Annual Dinner in the Buck Inn, Malham on 30th October was attended by 45 members and friends. A fine time was had by all including Norman Flux who turned up for a pint and a natter, found that there was a spare place due to a late cancellation, and enjoyed his second meal of the evening having polished off a fish supper in Settle not long before! Everyone seemed to enjoy the fare including the suspiciously fishy mushroom soup: the chef had failed to read our menu and made us lobster bisque instead!

After the meal there was a toast to Absent Friends given by Peter Dowswell in verse this time, followed by the Golden Gnome presentation given in absentia to Robin Taviner. For this, Goon burst into song to deliver the Gnome Ode. A few weeks later Tav was surprised in the Hunters Lodge Inn on Mendip by Snab delivering the gnome and the Gnome Ode, Estelle was there to record and report the event.

Fraser Simpson brought a projector and screen to the dinner, and following the meal some caving expedition videos featuring Staffa, Meghalaya and Montenegro were shown before the more senior members gathered round attempting to identify figures in caving photographs from the 60's. In one the figure of Goon was identified by most though he claimed that it wasn't him because the sweater was wrong.

Some reports on the caving done before, during and after the dinner weekend follow below. There were also visits to other local caves including two to Cherry Tree Hole. I joined the trip into Dow Cave on Saturday. I'd only been there as the exit route from Dowbergill Passage so this was a long-awaited opportunity to see more of it properly. On Sunday John Crae and I took the East coast route north via Stump Cross Caverns and did the tourist trail. It is self- guided and the constant lighting has had its inevitable effect: growing a nice crop of vegetation near many of the lighting fixtures. The tour ends with a short Sid Perou video on the formation discovery and exploration of the caverns.


Golden Gnome Award

Somehow or another we managed to keep it a secret from Tav that he had been awarded the Golden Gnome award at the GSG dinner a month earlier. Anyway, on the night of the J'Rat Diggers Award (20 November 2010) it was arranged for Snab to have the stage for the award before the diggers award was given out. Stuart McManus called Snab to the front and we all realised that Tav was nowhere to be seen. Snab gave a little ditty whilst the other bars were searched, but no sign of Tav so we aborted for now, assured by a couple of people that he was on his way and would be at the pub soon.

Shortly after the Diggers award was given to the Charterhouse team for 1.2 km of surveyed passage this year, Tav was spotted lurking in the other bar. We have a feeling he might have become suspicious because he resisted coming into the back room, so instead we took the award to him. Snab called for hush and asked Jackie if he could break the golden rule of no singing in the main bar as it was just a short song. He sang Goon's little ditty to Tav, then at the end of the song, the award was presented to Tav by Stu Lindsey. I took a short video of the event, which will be winging its way to Ivan and should hopefully end up on the GSG server at some point for all to view.

Estelle Sandford


(Tune: 'The Church's One Foundation' or The Wessex Cave Club Song)

We are the Grampian Army
No bloody use are we.
We drink ten pints of heavy
And never have to pee.
But when we're up in Assynt
And haven't got a clue.
We follow the instructions
Laid down by you know who.

Each sinkhole, shake and streamlet
He's catalogued with care.
And every little Swallet
He's pushed to God knows where.
Because of his obsession
We dig down through the peat
In holes that look quite hopeless
For caves beneath our feet.

In answer to the question:
"But will this muck-hole go?"
He answers, "Yes, no problem."
"Oh really? Is that so?"
For all his contributions
As Assynt's top caver,
This Golden Gnome's awarded
To Robin Taviner.

Alan Jeffreys


Arriving at the Craven cottage in Horton on the Thursday evening I met Julian & Carol Walford and Bob & Rosemary Jones returning from the pub. Parking up I moved my stuff into the hut and selected a bunk. Some time later Bob Mehew popped his head round the door and announced he was waiting for us in the pub! A chance of a swift pint with company was readily accepted and I consumed my first Yorkshire pint for some 28 years!!

Friday morning I made the right decision (as it all turned out in retrospect). I joined the two Bob's, Julian and Carol on a trip to County Pot. Weather was dry but windy and the route "recommended" by the permit was quite a hike around the perimeter of the moor. Passing Lancaster Hole after some 20 mins a slippery journey up to County via the Easegill beck added another 20 mins.

At the entrance, and taking final stock of the initial route, Julian led us down the snaky entrance passage to the first pitch, last visited by me on 28th December 1978 when according to my log "walk was desperate in horizontal snow and 70mph wind." and ".water conditions quite high, almost to crotch height." at Eureka junction, one of the points we visited this time. We also took in Platypus Junction, Poetic Justice, Toadstool Junction and Trident, and a couple of visits through Spout Hall. The trip was extremely enjoyable, albeit a tad uncomfortable for BobM as on a couple of occasions I required the use of bits of his anatomy to use as stepping stones!!!.......sorry about any bruises Bob!

After a short detour up Butterfields, we retraced our steps to regain the First Pitch. Above the pitch at the start of the way out is an awkward narrow climb up - easy if you are fit and skinny! However in the absence of a trusty piece of scaffold, on which I used to hang the ladder circa 1978 the team had opted to bring a hanger...just in case! Repitching the ladder gave me a superb easy peasy climb up to the wider part about 2 metres above. Some 50 mins later the trip was over as we left Bull Pot Farm en route to Horton, a quick shower then on to the Victoria Inn in Kirby Malham for a late dinner.

Saturday afternoon saw some of the Mendip contingent going for a pre-dinner walk: Malham Cove the non-starter for ten, as the police had it cordoned off due to an earlier mishap. Some gentleman putting a new slant to the song. Flying without wings! Plan 2 was hastily activated and a walk up Gorsdale Scar ensued. Whilst Estelle and Stu waited, NeilW (SMCC) and JohnW, "Tangent" disappeared up the waterfall and beyond for 30 minutes. A refreshing walk and a hearty appetite established, we returned to Kirby Malham Village Hall to get ready for the main event, The Dinner.

After a quick round of goodbyes, Sunday saw Estelle and Neil with myself move house to Brackenbottom, the Bradford's HQ. For a caving trip, a decision was made: a photographic trip to Notts 2, using one vehicle. Stu commenced packing his kit into Estelle's car, and guess what? In the confusion of putting valuables in Stu's safe and moving gear between the two vehicles, a half mile from Notts Stu suddenly had a strange feeling about his furry suit, a quick check of his bag and HEY PRESTO, it was not there.oooops..

An hour later we lifted the lid of Notts 2, and wow what a shaft. Our trio, being very dedicated diggers could fully appreciate the technical artistry and determination of the team that constructed this 150 ft free-climbable entrance pitch, such a labour of love, and successfully achieved a bit quicker than Rana!!!! (I know, it's a lot closer to the digging fraternity than ASSYNT). One little hiccup on the way down, a tightish bit which Stu's body would not fit through, that was until on the point of giving up and turning a few degrees he slipped effortlessly through! Fine thing gravity. (on the way back the two tighter bits were readily passed! But I really do need to shed another 8 kgs!!!)

Upstream in the main drain the passage and the formations are breathtaking in places. Yes there are more beautiful areas of stals in many other caves and there are other superb scalloped streamways, but here the two often embrace the twisting streamway or sultry pools to form the occasional unique gem. On this trip we did not visit side passages, and stopped before the last climb down, at the downstream end. But unlike County Pot where unless I do an exchange through trip I will not re-visit, here I would like to come back, explore the side passages and even take more photos. We all three enjoyed the day.

Monday, Sell Gill holes. (remember at the start of the article.. "Friday morning I made the right decision, in hindsight"). In preparation for an SRT TRIP...and with the BPC having a fine practice array in the upstairs we decided to iron out any problems in Estelle and Stu's SRT kit.......Estelle was fine, but Stu was unable to put together a working rig! Having almost been castrated with one set up, indicated by the high pitch scream as the leg loop transformed into a lethal weapon almost causing a castration as he left the floor, to having a shortage of blood to the head when a chest strap tightened across the jugular! Mind you the star patterns were quite interesting. Whilst the consensus of opinion was "lets go to Inglesport and get it sorted".we didn't, Stu spent the few hours at Sell Gill (as Estelle and Neill did a fine trip down the dry way) having a walk and starting a new dig!!!

What a super weekend, good friendly dinner, 2 bonus cave trips, superb company and maybe an appetite whetted for a few more caving exploits, rather than just digging in a muddy hole!

Stuart Lindsay

Malham and Wharfedale caves

Many of the regular GSG trips to the Dales tended to focus on the caving to the west of Ribblesdale, so the Annual Dinner weekend was an opportunity for many to explore some less familiar caves. The majority of members arrived through Friday afternoon and evening and reunions and hatching of plans for the weekend took place in the Buck Inn, as well as in the Victoria Inn, Kirkby Malham. That pub was close to the village hall the weekend base for most members.

After a late change of plan for the weekend, I travelled up from Aberystwyth with family and booked into the Kettlewell Youth Hostel, so drove over from Wharfedale to Malham late in the evening to find out the planned cave trips for the Saturday. After saying hello to friends at the Buck Inn, I found Ross and Derek at the Victoria Inn where they were seriously considering the Providence Pot to Dow Cave through trip. This appealed and we all agreed that an early start was essential to avoid the risk of missing the start of the meal and the social occasion.

I was ready and kitted up at Kettlewell Bridge at 8 o'clock and after a slight delay, Derek and Ross appeared. This had required an extraordinary effort for Ross, who would be the first to admit he is normally a later riser. In fact, later on, several of those staying at the village hall remarked on seeing him up and active so early. So we were soon kitted up and heading along the Dowbergill path from Kettlewell. The Providence Pot entrance was easy enough to locate, sitting proud of a small island in the beck and we were soon climbing down the scaffold and on our way.

The first section was restricted in space with several damp crawls and constricted corners (including Blasted Passage) but with welcome respite in The Palace and a pleasant, sporting descent into The Dungeon after which the streamway was quickly reached at the attractive Stalagmite Corner. We made steady progress along the false floor with novel side squeezes to avoid chokes within the parallel dry route of Skittle Chamber to eventually push through a boulder choke and pass into Bridge Cavern where the streamway was rejoined. Rapid progress was made from there, up until I pushed one rift squeeze too many and found myself suspended by my hips with my feet airborne above the stream within a small chamber. This entrapment was resolved by pushing harder which released me into the chamber where I could turn around and reverse the squeeze facing the other way so that toe holds gave purchase to push back out. Ross was on hand to haul if necessary! Once Derek arrived we agreed that this was best bypassed by taking our first ascent up into the rift and through boulders before returning down to the streamway.

Later at the Boulder Choke that fully blocked the streamway, Ross scaled a very exposed climb with an awkward pinch point to access the high level, traversable rift. This was the second place where I was momentarily hung up, partly because of a tackle bag acting as a chockstone out of sight below me (and absolutely nothing to do with my traditional caving light battery)! This exposed, high level traverse was followed by an exhilarating elbow jamming, controlled descent through the rift between large chockstones ending in Brew Chamber. Narrow, sometimes awkward streamway followed for some distance, often waist deep and very chilling. This continued beyond the Rock Window with a further wade through deep water but now in wider streamway until the duck where a short, sharp climb with knotted rope accessed the Gypsum Series. Descending to the streamway for the last time from the stint in the Roof Tunnel soon culminated at the Buddhist Temple, where we savoured the impressive stal flowstone and later fine stal and capacious streamway of Dow Cave. We rested outside the dry entrance before the pleasant walk back to Kettlewell for celebratory mugs of tea with gingerbread bats and ghosts (Halloween) - an excellent caving trip!

There was time spare to shower and prepare for the dinner and to join GSG friends in Malham. A good meal was followed by traditional toasts, speeches and several slide and film shows, with very contrasting styles of presentation and accompanying music for perspectives of Staffa, Meghalaya and Montenegro.

On Sunday, there was time to join Roger, Annie and Yorkshire Dave for a descent of the airy, noisy and rather wet pitches of Hardrawkin Pot before packing up for our various journeys home.

Roll on the 2011 celebrations!

Peter Dennis

Annual Dinner 2011

During the last AGM it was decided that in the club's Jubilee year the Annual Dinner could be held nowhere else but in Assynt. Details will be circulated later this year, but for now reserve Saturday October 29th in your diary for this year's GSG Annual Dinner weekend in Sutherland.

Annual Subscriptions 2011

Annual subscriptions were due on the 1st January 2011. All GSG members are automatically enrolled in the British Caving Association and a major part of your annual fee pays the BCA's annual charge. This remains at £16 for caving and £5 for non-caving members. The GSG part of the subscription is also unchanged at £15 for full members and £20 for joint membership. Members in full time education, who are unemployed or have retired and are over state retirement age qualify for a £5 reduction. Life members get a 100% discount on this part.

Caving membership of BCA includes public liability insurance for caving, and is required for access to many caves and mines. If you only ever cave by yourself in Scotland there isn't any advantage in having it except for the warm glow it will give you because you are helping to support UK caving's national body, and the cover it gives if you are sued because you caused an accident. If you are a direct individual member of BCA (a DIM) or a member of BCA through another caving club you don't pay twice. You only pay the GSG part of the annual subscription to the GSG.

If you do not pay by the end of January your membership of the BCA will lapse as will the insurance cover it brings. The GSG constitution is more generous and allows until the end of March, but if you want uninterrupted access to caves nationwide you shouldn't. If you do not pay by the end of March your membership of the GSG will automatically be terminated whatever class of membership you have - even Life. You have been warned!


We Are Graciously Pleased to Announce Our Jubilee

Well, it's 2011 already! The GSG will be 50 years old in June. Preliminary notice has already been given concerning various celebratory events we will stage this summer, but now it is time for you to diary a couple of firm dates before your commitments begin to fill up the year. We want no cries of "I can't come; I'm double booked that day".

The first is the afternoon of Friday 6th May. We have booked a room in the Royal Society of Edinburgh, 22-26 George Street (across the road from the George Hotel) where an exhibition of the club's achievements will be mounted, culminating in the late afternoon with a press reception for various interested parties and media. A good showing of members will assist in promoting this venture. It will also be on view at our second event.

The second is our Jubilee Dinner on Saturday 18th June at the Kings Manor Hotel, Edinburgh. All necessary details are on the booking form in this newsletter, but one or two additional comments are needed. We are restricted to 120 guests for this meal and if we get a good response from members and former members, then regrettably, only partners who are (were) also members of the club can be accommodated. However, after the meal there will be a ceilidh, at which partners are very cordially invited. This arrangement is less than perfect but we do expect a large take-up for the dinner so it cannot be avoided.

The dinner itself will be semi-formal, that is to say, jacket, shirt and tie level at least. Club ties are available and a good showing of these would be appreciated. If you feel so moved, black tie would be excellent. As indicated on the booking form, a special issue of 'Potholer' beer will be available with a customized label. If you have a witty idea for the design, you have ONE WEEK from receipt of this newsletter to forward it to the jubilee committee.

Finally: over the past few years I have been requesting contact details for former members, so invitations may be sent out. This has proved quite successful, but if anyone has an address for any of the following, I would really appreciate details:

Dave Taylor, Robin (Desperate) Duncan, Spider and Maureen Penman, Andrew Trafford, John Hutchison, Phil Barton, Bob Fleet, Mike Hopkinson, Brian Cornock, Brian and Andy Reid, Bill Stewart, John McKenzie, Anita Maison, Duncan Foster or Lilias Drazek.

Please support us by sending your booking form in early (in the positive of course).



The early onset of winter at the end of November hit the planned caving programme with several meets being cancelled. The cave monitoring field work was badly affected (see later) and the Xmas Dinner in the hut while a success saw nobody attending from south of Inverness.


Over New Year, Derek Pettiglio and Ross Davidson had a very cold trip into Claonaite One to Three. Derek had, on a previous trip, dug at the end of Dry Rot Passage to find a tight continuation, but couldn't get through. Ross did squeeze through, however, and discovered many metres of passage before finding a footprint then tape and realised they'd linked Dry Rot into the downstream part of the Birling Corridor. The survey does show these two are close though not in the right orientation to each other: understandable as the survey of that part of the Birling Corridor is only Grade 1.

This trip was also noted for Ross suffering an injury as he climbed up the waterfall on his way out. Pushing hard on numb feet he felt a snap. Later self-diagnosis was that his superior fibular retinaculum had been torn from his fibula. A visit to the Western General confirmed this. Treatment consists of resting it for a few weeks and hoping that it heals by itself. If not then surgery is needed, but this isn't thought to be likely.



On 31st October Ritchie and I went to the end of the new passage in Uamh Sgeinne (Cave of Knives). Much hammering was done but very little progress was made. An Inlet not noticed before was also widened, but a block fell across the small passage that was appearing! I went down Waterslide cave and realised I was looking at the same low roof we were trying to pass in Cave of Knives so the link has been made it just needs a good hammering for the through tip.

In mid-November a short section of new passage was pushed in Waterslide Cave ending in a small unstable chamber with a hole to the stream. Another silted up inlet is also being dug. Up the glen on the south side I found a 3m deep pot. We dug for a while, but it is starting to fall in on itself.

David Morrison


In November Mark Lonnen and I, accompanied by George Antill, completed the eco-anchoring of Long Drop Cave. Our first challenge was to navigate the forest track. From the main road onwards it was being 'improved' in preparation for extracting timber. It was in reasonable condition up to the forest gate though the parking area was no more. From there on Mark had difficulty driving through the mud up the gentle slope and we parked before the downhill stretch just before crossing the river. With the track and many metres to either side stripped of vegetation the next challenge was find a suitably dry patch within the mud sea to get into our gear.

At Long Drop we inserted three more anchors. Once again the main shaft was wet - only the second time I have seen it like that. The first time was our last visit when we started installing eco-anchors. Perhaps the route formerly taken by the water bypassing the pitch has become choked. We added another anchor and a deviation to complete the route down the parallel dry shaft, plus an anchor before the top of the pitch. You now have a choice of a direct descent of the 12m shaft or the alternative of the dry shaft if the direct route is wet.

Afterwards we checked that all the anchors in Claig-ionn were okay. They were. Only one problem arose. Mark's battery box detached itself from his helmet as he squeezed up through the top of Chest Pot and it disappeared into the pool at the bottom. George searched but couldn't find it in the mini-maelstrom. Mark invested many hours machining it from solid aluminium so if anyone happens to find it he'd like it back.


Rigging Description

Entrance climb - Belay 14m handline to a (birch?) tree well back from the entrance for the climb down which is usually very slippery.

12m pitch - Starting at a large thread in the roof some way back from the pitch (extra long sling required) the rope is then belayed to a P anchor in the left wall shortly before the pitch (mainly to aid the climb out on the return). From a Y hand on the right hand wall descend to bottom or when pitch is wet descend 2 or 3 metres then swing onto an obvious ledge and traverse into a parallel dry shaft where the next Y hang is found. A deviation part way down this pitch avoids rope rub.

Mark Lonnen

Progress or not on SNH Monitoring Contract

The contract we agreed in September with SNH (NL 144 pp7-8) had a target date for completing the field work and submitting a preliminary report of mid-December 2010. It started well with Peter Dowswell, Bob Jones and Julian Walford visiting Lower Traligill, Cnoc nam Uamh and ANUSC before the middle of November. Since then you may have noticed that the weather has been against us and only a short trip into Rana has been possible leaving Claonaite One to Three and Rana/Claonaite Seven to be done.

We had warned SNH that bad weather could prevent the work being completed to their timescale. Nick Everett, the responsible officer in SNH, has accepted that it hasn't been possible and is arranging for half the money to be paid us for the work we have done and the preliminary report we submitted in December. He is also allowing us until early March to finish all the field work. If not done by then budgetary constraints within SNH mean it can't be rescheduled for their next financial year and it appears it would have to wait for the next monitoring cycle in 2016 or thereabouts. That would be a shame and we will be doing our best to complete it by March. We'll also explore with Nick whether there is any way of justifying payment of the balance in advance of the work being done. The GSG does, after all, have a 100% track record of completing previous projects for SNH.

For the three caves monitored we have found, so far, only a few changes since 2002. A group of stalactites from 100 to 250 mm long in a low section of the Grotto in Cnoc nan Uamh has been broken as has a shorter stalactite (c 80mm) beside the route onwards to Potholes Passage. Both are likely to have been damaged by clumsy visitors. Another small piece of rock has fallen from beside the ANUSC entrance due most probably to natural erosion.

Though we were not asked to re-photograph the features being monitored in the caves we have found it best to do so. Fresh images allow better and easier comparison to those taken in 2002, add to the permanent record and confirm that the surveyors have correctly identified the features.


East Wemyss Raiders

A recent article in the press reported that persons unknown had been attempting to dig their way into two blocked caves at East Wemyss. The report didn't give any better description but that two sites had been blocked by slumping earth about six years ago. Speculation was that folk were looking for ancient artefacts and financial gain. I'd think it more likely that someone with an interest in caving found the entrances blocked and had attempted to unblock them. I haven't heard of any collapses at East Wemyss so if any reader can cast some light upon the topic or cares to investigate we'd be very interested to hear.

The web site of SWACS (Save Wemyss Ancient Cave Society) at has no mention of any recent changes to the caves.

Tyndrum Lead Mines

In October I was contacted by a Ewen Cameron who'd explored much of the Tyndrum mines in the '70s. With a friend he'd climbed up ladders and broken through a trapdoor into higher level walkways. They'd done this with carbide for lighting and protected by a climbing rope and runners. The metal runged wooden ladder went up 60 feet then turned 180 degrees and up again. Some artefacts were donated to the museum at Wanlochhead. They found newspapers dated 1925, a hutch and more interestingly 12 stick of gelignite. He also reported noticing a change after a local earthquake. They had inserted rawlbolts with stainless steel hangers during exploration.

He called because he was interested in what we knew and because he'd been talking to academics at the University of Stirling. A Dr Catherine Mills and Mary Easson of the School of History and Politics were collecting data on the history of the mines and their relation to the local community. Details of their project and a plea for information were published in a recent edition of the Scots Magazine. Ewen was sending all his data to them and I contacted them to see if they would share the results of their research with us. Mary has now finished her dissertation on the pollution at the site and is willing to send us the data she collected. Catherine told me that Goon had helped her at the start of the project and that work on the site looks like continuing so more opportunities for co-operation might arise. She also asked us to let her know if we planned a visit as she might be "tempted to dig out my caving equipment from the back of the garage."


Jacobite Cave found Underwater

A cave submerged in Loch Lochy NE of Fort William is being investigated by a professional diver. The cave was recently discovered and found to contain manacles and chains. It is believed to have been used as a cell by government forces during the Jacobite rising. It was submerged when the level of the loch was raised by first the building of the Caledonian Canal and then a hydro-electric scheme and is now two or three metres underwater in the vicinity of Clunes Bay. There is a crannog in the vicinity (NN 1950 8780) that was above water until the Caledonian Canal raised the water level by 11', but being an artificial island made of rubble this can't be the site of the reported cave.

Iceland's Earlier Settlers

Though the Vikings settled in what it thought to have been an uninhabited Iceland around 870AD they were not the earliest settlers. They discovered evidence that Irish monks had been there previously. Now recent discoveries in Kverkarhellir cave, on the land of Seljaland farm in southern Iceland have pushed back the earliest date to around 800AD. The cave is 7.5m long, artificial and dug in soft rock. Digging debris from its construction lies well below a layer of volcanic ash deposited in 871AD. Measurement of the wind blown sediment layer between the digging debris and the ash leads to the 800 AD estimate for the cave's age.

The nearby Seljalandshellar cave group contains 19 large and 4 mid-sized carvings of crosses on its walls. Their style is different from Scandinavian carvings and similar to early medieval crosses from 800AD or earlier seen in western Scotland.

Spotted by Thomes Matthelm on the Internet at:-

Training Questionnaire Results

Thanks to everyone who responded to the GSG Training Questionnaire. We had responses from 23 people in total - a breakdown of the responses is given below. Most of the proposed topics received similar levels of interest, and fortunately each topic also received offers of help with training. Weekday evenings and single day weekend timeslots were equally popular, while Edinburgh was the clear favourite for location with Assynt in second place.

The next step is to set up a training programme for the year and see how it goes. We will aim for a variety of types and locations of training, probably over 3-4 events. Here are some ideas:

SRT and Knots & Rigging could both be suitable for Edinburgh evenings at a climbing wall or perhaps Web Access. Surveying could be taught at Assynt, with time for a short "classroom session" followed by a practical surveying trip. Any session which focused on discussion (e.g. Equipment Maintenance) could be held at someone's house in an evening, with pizza + beer - or we could book the downstairs room in the Cumberland Bar on a Tuesday (or other?) evening.

If anyone has any comments or suggestions, please email me (rebecca.c.carter @, or we can discuss it at the AGM.


GSG Distribution Lists

All members with an email address should receive text copies of the quarterly Newsletters as well as announcements about GSG meets, events and other news. If you are not receiving them and want to, just send an email to Ivan and he'll add you to the GSG's distribution list.

Tuesday Evening Pub Nights

All are welcome to join us in the Cumberland Bar, Cumberland Street, Edinburgh where we meet every Tuesday evening from about 8:30pm. We can usually be found in the back room.

2011 Meets and Events

See the events page.

Peak District - The GSG has many friends in the Peak District, so it would be nice for us to get down there once or twice a year. There are lots of great sporting trips as well as digs that we could take part in. If this meet is to go ahead we need some folk to express interest, but the timing doesn't seem to suit. I've also damaged my ankle so we'll reschedule for a more convenient time.

Beginner/Intermediate trip(s) - Please let potential new cavers know about this. If you can help out by leading trips please let me know.

Fraser has reserved ALL the accommodation at Speleocamp for the Slovenia expedition. Please keep him informed of your intentions so he doesn't release some of it thinking it won't be needed. So far he has about 20 definites on his list plus quite a few possibles.

Request a Cave Trip

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. Contact Ross Davidson with your suggestions.

Ross Davidson

Membership News

New Members

Donald Campbell, Vanessa Crowsley, Rebecca (Becca) Johnson, Andrew Morgan, Javier Ruiz, Toby Speight,

New Addresses

Stephen Elwell-Sutton, Ian Holmes, Matt Hutson, Hugh Penney, Sebastien Rider, Suzie & David Robinson

Other Changes

Mark Lonnen, mobile; Alison Gallagher, email

  • Kate Janossy and Fraser Stephens - announced the birth of their son Torin on the Thursday 9th December at 0645. "He eventually came out by himself after being threatened with cave rescue, a healthy 8lb 7oz. He seems to have inherited his parents' talent for eating, but hasn't quite got the hang of sleeping yet. He's quite good at yelling too."
  • Thomas Gundacker - might be an ex-member but he stays in touch with the Group. He emails that he moved to Abu Dhabi at the end of 2009 and is now trying to find caves there because "A recent trip down the really beautiful 450m long / almost 100m deep cave under a palace on Jebel Hafit showed me that there has to be more! Although 28oC at 98% humidity was an interesting experience...." An account of the cave which is called Magharet Qasir Hafit can be found in Tribulus, the Journal of the Emirates Natural History Group no 12.1 Spring/Summer 2002. It is by Tim & Pam Fogg and Tony Oldham and can be found on-line at (PDF)
  • Alison Jones and Mark Gallagher - had the whitest of white weddings on 27th November at Carbisdale Castle. This was the weekend winter arrived early and most of Scotland disappeared under a blanket of snow for the rest of the year. About 100 guests battled their way to the venue and many enjoyed a sunny Saturday morning walking in the spectacularly snow-shrouded forest before the ceremony. Martyn Elwell was the official photographer and had the wedding party wading through the deep snow for photographs.

    The journey home the following day for some was smooth going until near Perth when everything slowed to a crawl. While Ivan managed home to Kirkliston after almost 12 hours travelling, Roger and Annie stayed with friends in Perth and Davie, Suzie and Cairn failing to find beds in a hotel, ended up sleeping on the floor in a school opened up for the relief of destitute travellers. All in all a most unforgettable weekend!

  • Kirsty Moore and Nathan Jeffery - let the cat out of the bag when Kirsty renewed their membership with a return address of Kirsty Jeffery on the envelope. They married very quietly on Mull in May.
  • Jamie (Boab) Yuill and Lindsay Moss - are another couple heading in the same direction. They got engaged at the end of 2010.
  • Julian Warren - got engaged a couple of months ago to Rebecca Johnson, a vet and our latest member.

Elphin Caving Centre

Christmas Party

Due to the uncertainty of the weather the Christmas Party was a fairly select affair enjoyed only by GSG's northern section. In spite of a couple of late call offs twelve people enjoyed a mixed menu. The Russian hors d'ouevre, (Zakuski), proved very popular, and were very artistically produced by the ladies. We also had our neighbours Russell and Bridie who mentioned how well the local community project was going with even a social on New Year's day to which GSG were invited. Appetites seemed particularly healthy this year, with many enjoying the final course of the cheese board. We did of course toast our friends in the south.

February Theme Evening - a Highland Fling

As a Burn's Supper didn't prove feasible this year we will have a Scottish theme evening in February (weather permitting) and will have a varied menu of Scottish food. Details of this will be confirmed shortly, but the proposed date is Saturday 12th February. In keeping with the usual cultural theme there will be readings from John Muir, Burns, William Topaz McGonagall, and the anonymous ballad, Sir Patrick Spens

Peter Dowswell

Film Reviews

The Descent Part 2 Celador Films (2009) Rated 18

Having endured the underground blood-fest that was Neil Marshall's 2005 film, 'The Descent', club members came away bemused that in the credits were listed advisors on climbing, white water rafting and abseiling - everything in fact, except - caving! Strange. Anyway, far-fetched as the story line was, at least we could enjoy the spectacle of leggy cuties crawling around in sleeveless vests and hotpants. We've got it wrong lads, which must partly explain the decline of membership in British caving.

Within four years, a predictable sequel has appeared, arising from one of two possible endings for Part 1. Here, the traumatized original cast survivor, Shauna McDonald, is persuaded to return to the cave system (!) by a bunch of dysfunctional officials, to search for survivors and/or explanations. Having seen the slimy sub-human things in Part 1, shock values were drastically reduced in this movie, directed, not by Neil Marshall, but Jon Harris, and attention focused more on disgusting the audience than frightening them. Once again, technical issues were risible (although there were more clothes this time), and plot lines predictable. A shock ending helps, but I felt overall that this production fails to meet the highpoint - leaving accurate speleology aside - set by the original although there were some quite nice sets, especially an old mine shaft which was used to access the system on this occasion. There are the usual special features on the DVD, a copy of which resides in the club library.


The Sanctum, Universal Pictures (2010)

Another film of the underground, but this time underwater as well since it is about cave diving in "the largest, most beautiful and least accessible cave system on Earth." Naturally the divers become trapped and have to struggle to escape. The publicity says the story was inspired by one of the co-writers, Andrew Wight, becoming trapped by a collapse while leading a cave diving expedition. He is a Australian scuba and cave diving instructor, so perhaps it'll have a higher speleological accuracy quotient than found in The Descent and The Cave. Sanctum is in 3-D and is due for release in February 2011. More details and a trailer featuring what I am sure is Sotano de las Golondrinas in Mexico with its 376m entrance shaft can be found at


Internet Caving

Underground - The Comic - Comic fans might like to check out 'Underground', which is available online at From the website: "Park Ranger and avid caver Wesley Fischer is on a one-woman mission to stop Stillwater Cave from being turned into a tourist trap, but public opinion is not on her side. When locals begin blasting in the cave, Wes and a fellow ranger investigate - and a confrontation spirals into a deadly chase deep under the Kentucky mountains!"


Assynt News

  • ELKCAL - The Elphin Knockan and Ledmore Community Association Ltd report that thanks to donated equipment the school now boasts a pool table, a table tennis table, a dart board and various other games. They plan "Friday for All" sessions starting on 14th January with toddlers then school pupils being able to use the facilities in the afternoon. The 'older ones' can join in from 18:30 till 21:00 which could include us. The web site at is up and running with accounts of past events, a calendar for those in the future and a list of local businesses. You can download a membership form if you want to join.
  • Knockan Centre - SNH are refurbishing the visitor centre and the 'Rock Room' at Knockan Crag. It is planned to be open in time for Easter 2011. Perhaps the explanation of the area's geological history and importance will then be presented in a more straightforward fashion than the present confusing cartoons.

Meghalaya Calendar - 2011

The 2011 Meghalaya calendar is now being printed. It features the work of the cream of the 2010 expedition's GSG photographers with one dozen underground images, one entrance on the cover plus the 2010 team photograph all in full colour. It is available in A4 and A3 sizes for £5 and £8 if collected and £6 and £10 by 2nd class mail.

Because it is distributed when the expedition arrives in Meghalaya in February it runs from 1st February 2011 to 31st January 2012. Most of those calendars are printed double-sided on paper to save weight. Those distributed in the UK are printed single-sided on thin card.

Our new printers have the technology to add a hanging loop into the wire binding - something we haven't had in the past. If you want copies please order them now. When I got them printed in past years at my ex-employers I could order additional small quantities at the same price per copy. That isn't possible when ordering from a commercial printer so don't delay!

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