GSG Newsletter 152

October 2012

More Discoveries in Appin

The team investigating both new and old areas in Appin has chalked up more successes. First they visited Own Hole in Glen Creran after a gap of many years by the GSG and found a new connection through a squeeze that before had probably been written off as 'too tight'. Then taking a fresh look at the limestone band along the western slopes of Glen Stockdale found some new passage near Claon Uamh and Rock Shelter 3.

The real discovery was made when they went to the Glenamuckrach area, and visited the Pot of the same name - though they didn't know it at the time. Tamlin forced himself through what in the 70's we'd written of as 'too tight' (beginning to sound familiar?) and realised it continued. After some excavation he, Andy Morgan, Amber MacLeod and George Antill all squeezed in with the assistance of gravity, and explored about 100m of passage to a sump in one direction and a tight tube in the other. There are some good formations and fine gour pools spread along the passage. There was also a chamber of about 4m in all directions they called The Boss.

Exiting the cave with gravity now pulling in the wrong direction took longer with Amber taking about 40 minutes to inch out of the entrance squeezes reportedly using just her "shoulder blades and butt-cheeks one agonizing inch at a time." George comprehensively failed and it took more digging from outside and inside then removal of clothing before he finally emerged very relieved over an hour later. It was a near thing for the SCRO who were reportedly on the verge of being called out.

A pothole near to the entrance that was noted in the 70's, but not named or investigated, was descended and found to lead to another chamber with a stream issuing from a passage near the roof. Initially thought to be Glenamuckrach Pot this was later named Viewpoint Pot. The stream was dye traced to an inlet in Glenamuckrach Pot so a connection is a possibility.

News about the discovery was picked up by the BBC so the next weekend a mass turnout saw most of the original team plus reinforcements on site with scaling, diving and camera gear plus the BBC. This resulted in a short item on the lunchtime and evening news the following week and included video shot by Fraser Simpson of the sump as he and Ross dived into it. Only a few metres of progress were made, but at the cost of ripped wetsuit and a knackered shoulder for Fraser as he struggled back out of the entrance. Also in the broadcast was a clip of the GSG scaling pole in action as the team reached the top of the waterfall in Viewpoint Pot and followed the passage to within a few metres of the sink.

Latest developments have seen the entrance 'improved' so that cavers of a more normal size can get in - and out - without damaging themselves or their clothing too severely. Surveying has started using a GSG DistoX and more photographs have been taken there and of other caves in the area.

Just after the discovery, conversations with our Mendip members suggested that, amazingly, Scotland was in the lead for winning the J'Rat Digging Award for a second time. One of the judges for the award, Martin Grass, confirmed that the wet spring and summer had restricted digging in many Mendip sites and the 100m extension to Glenamuckrach Pot could be the winning entry. However...

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GSG Members find Mendip's Largest Chamber

Two GSG members - Peter Glanvill and Tony Boycott are part of the "Tuesday Diggers" whose dig in Reservoir Hole, Cheddar George, broke through into an enormous chamber they call "The Frozen Deep". A 12m pitch lands in the massive 30 x 55m 30m high chamber with many fine formations including an area of pure white flowstone surrounding two 5m calcite columns. This follows four years of digging with most of the progress in the last year.

The other members of the core digging team are Martin Grass, Alison Moody, Nigel Cox and Nick Chipchase and the average age of the six is reported to be 60ish. The chamber and other passages leading to it have been surveyed and at about 300m outstrip the GSG's Appin discoveries. We await with interest news of just what club (or clubs) are going to be credited on the Digging Award this year if, as expected, this discovery is the 2012 winner.

The diggers are busy taping off formations and making the cave a safer place as there is a lot of poised rock ready to fall. Various loud rumbles in the past felt reverberating through the cave are suspected by some to be due to falls thereabouts. As evidence, just examine the photo of Peter at the foot of the ladder pitch as a rock bounces off his helmet! (He wears a 'pained' expression - it was only a small rock)

Latest news is that a Lidar scan has confirmed that as far as floor area goes The Frozen Deep at 2981 sq metres is larger than Gaping Gill with 'only' 2729 sq metres. Debate continues about whether floor area or volume is the right criterion for deciding size. (For comparison the Great Northern Time Machine in Claonaite is about 1625 sq metres) With some talking of a possible 100km system in the area just waiting to be found, a more modest 70m extension has been pushed to a pool at the lowest point reached in the cave.

Latest News:- Over 200m more has been found heading back to the cliff face high above the road.

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Hidden Earth 2012

This year's national caving conference was held in Burnley at the Burnley Campus. This houses the Thomas Whitham Sixth Form College plus various sports and library facilities for the local community, none of which were available to them while Hidden Earth was there. With plenty of ground for camping, four lecture theatres, a sports hall for the trade show and club stands and a hard-worked bar with a fine selection of ales at £2 per pint, conference organiser Les Williams and his herd of helpers are to be congratulated for finding yet another fine venue - and so far north as well! Butch did moan at the location. He took seven hours to get there from Mendip - twice as long as it took us from Edinburgh. He should be happy next year as everyone expects Hidden Earth 2013 to be in Mendip.

The high (very high) light of the weekend for Carol Dickson and me travelling in Toby Speight's car happened before we arrived in Burnley. As we drove past Blackburn on the M65 we saw a very bright greenish light in the sky ahead of us. I thought first of a plane coming in to land at low altitude. I then noticed a fainter light trailing it. Then, as it soared over the motorway heading west, I could see multiple glowing lights in its wake. It was either a meteor or a piece of man-made space junk burning up as it hit the atmosphere at what has been reported as 80 miles altitude and 18,000 mph. It made the headlines in the papers and on TV.

Dick Grindley has trawled the Internet for me. He reports that the latest thoughts are that it was a meteor rather than man-made because satellites all orbit west to east and it was heading east to west. Its speed was also higher than something decaying from Earth orbit. It was probably a very small member of the Aten asteroid family which have orbits mostly or entirely inside that of Earth.

HE 2012 was a well attended conference with 1088 delegate days over the weekend. I counted 18 GSG members there, eight from Scotland; two for the first time. Several GSG members were involved in the lecture programme. Goon gave a Scottish Roundup covering the last two years followed by Fraser Simpson's video The Hidden River of Allt nan Uamh; Trevor Faulkner talked about Caves and Climate change; Simon Brooks gave part of the Peak District Roundup, then an update on Caving in Iran, and then with Mark Tringham on 20 Years in Meghalaya; Bob Mehew talked about his latest work testing ropes (he was busy with the test rig snapping ropes all weekend); and Peter Glanvill during the Mendip Roundup described the discovery of The Frozen Deep in Reservoir Hole.

One exhibitor in the trade hall was GSG member Hugh Penney aka Handknitted Pottery. Amongst other mugs, he displayed some decorated with rigging guides for Alum and Jingling. He was receptive to the idea of producing some with rigging guides for Scottish pots such as Rana, Claig-ionn and Long Drop. If you are interested contact him (details on his website I've sent him the diagrams for those three caves. His standard prices are £12.50 and £15 for medium and large (about 3/4 pint) mugs respectively. See the photo for an idea of size.

Also in the trade hall was the Speleolympics course. This involved teams of two fetching tackle sacks through a series of squeezes. The roof beams provided anchors for the SRT race course, and the BCA artificial cave saw steady business. Several GSG members had mixed success at some of these with George Antill fitting the inclined pipe of the Speleolympics course far too tightly to get back up it, though he slid down it easily enough. A fine re-creation of his wee problem in Glenamuckrach Pot!

HE 2012's closing ceremony included the prize-giving and Goon was there first to chair the ceremony and hand out most of the prizes, then to step aside for a couple of minutes while he was awarded the Tratman Award for best caving-related publication of the year. This was an original piece of artwork by Gonzo featuring a cave diver reading the award-winning Decades in the Dark underwater! It is to be hung in the hut.

And finally, after several trawls though the trade Hall Goon returned home with enough publications to fill another 3/4 metre of shelf space.


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More Rope Test Results

With access now possible from Concretehead to Sump 5 in Claonaite, Julian Walford replaced the line through it. It was a length of his Bluewater that had been there for about 18 years, wasn't new when it was laid, and now had several badly frayed sections. He sent it to Bob Mehew for testing on the BCA test rig. Despite the rope being 36 years old, Bob was surprised to find that it withstood many more drops than expected - the unfrayed sections that is. When I spoke to him at HE 2012 he had just given up bored after the 16th fall factor 1.0 drop on one section. From this we can probably conclude that prolonged immersion in water doesn't weaken nylon rope.

Latest:- It broke later on the 17th drop!

Radon in Caves

The BCA Radon Working Party's new publication Radon Underground can be downloaded from the BCA website. It describes the problem, examines applicable legislation and includes guidelines for minimising exposure to radon. Dr Clark Friend gave an illuminating talk on radon during this year's Hidden Earth conference. Quite a lot of monitoring has been done in caves and mines south of the border revealing radon concentrations that vary by several orders of magnitude. At one site you could accumulate the yearly radiation exposure limit in 24 hours! No testing has been carried out in Scotland. Later Bob Mehew found maps showing radon risks for Scotland at:

This shows a definite increase of radon in Sutherland over the Durness dolostone areas, though lower than many caving areas elsewhere.

The medical consequence of radon exposure is an increased risk of lung cancer. However there isn't the data to show any increased risk to the caving population. First, the caving population isn't large enough to generate statistically valid results, and second, smoking has a far greater effect on lung cancer rates; smoking multiples by 25 the risk of lung cancer, both in the presence and absence of radon.

After his talk several of us talked to Dr Friend about monitoring in Scotland and he has persuaded BCA to fund five detectors to place in Assynt caves. Detectors are simple pieces of plastic that are left in a cave for one month. After exposure to the cave atmosphere they are collected and etching reveals tracks in the plastic caused by alpha particles. Counting the tracks gives a measure of the radiation. A full analysis of the radiation risk at an underground site would need regular tests over several years.

There is usually a seasonal component and there can be unexplained spikes as well.

£25 per detector including processing, analysis and a report.

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Claonaite Seven

After one failed attempt earlier in the year to get into Tibesti Chamber - the crawl to Nipple Chamber was too tight for him - John Crae returned in mid-September. I was there following other objectives. A very well-watered Black Rift was passed only because the day was fine. If there had been the prospect of more rain we probably would have aborted the trip. At Belh Aven John headed upstream to find a crowbar and start deepening the way into Nipple Chamber. We agreed to meet after two hours and I headed downstream.

My first goal was to investigate the Night on the Tiles area near Belh Aven. This has several side passages on the right. The survey shows four entrances, but I found only three. The first is the largest entrance and rapidly steepens and tightens until after nine metres it becomes a tight 60 degree upward squeeze over muddy boulders. Despite at least another eight metres of larger incline being clearly visible, more vertical progress seemed implausible. The second passage is only a few metres away and starts smaller. Again an upward climb over fallen slabs heads steeply up until perched boulders are reached. A sideways shuffle avoids them and heads up into a large area of collapse covering over 15 metres by 10 metres. To the right, below a vertical drop, the top of the first side passage can be seen. To the left a flatter area is entered with boot prints on the floor. These are probably Goon's who has been there twice and found it much changed between visits. Returning to the main drag the third and last side passage is almost horizontal for 22m to a blind chamber.

We need to return to survey this area properly. Just as Goon was puzzled when he found Night on the Tiles II much changed, so I am sure that in '95 I followed a side passage that led back round to the main passage. Perhaps there has a major collapse or collapses thereabouts in the last fifteen years.

The second goal of the day was to start replacing the taping along Portobello Promenade and into the Great Northern Time Machine. I had several rolls of the BCA recommended orange nylon tape with me plus a bundle of stainless steel supports made from 2.4mm welding rod. That is the most cost-effective way of buying stainless steel rod. I got as far as the main section of the GNTM before I ran out of tape. Since it was not quite the full two hours I went looking for John at his dig.

A crowbar lay abandoned at the start of the now deepened crawl to Nipple Chamber. With no John in sight I followed it to a step where digging had stopped and continued through to the nipple and then to the crawl through to Tibesti. Since John might have gone through I followed, finding it a snug fit. With still no John when I reached the choke at the end I returned and found him waiting for me in Black Cuillin Chamber having retired knackered from the digging just before I got there.


Meet Report - Glenstockdale, Appin - September 29th - 30th 2012

Team members:- George Antill, Tamlin Barton, Ross Davidson, Mark Lonnen

Tam arrived and made camp on the Friday night at Glenamuckrach. On Saturday Tam went into Viewpoint Pot to start a dig towards Hugo Boss but gave up after he realised it was going to take a very long time to make any progress. Afterwards he surveyed Hugo Boss with a disto down to the vertical Aven after the S-bend, marking survey stations as he went. George arrived 18:30ish and they both headed over to Roaring Waters for a tourist trip and to take some photos. Ross arrived at camp around 21:00ish.

In the morning George walked out to Broken Expectations to meet up with Mark and help him carry some heavy equipment into Glenstockdale. Meanwhile Tam went prospecting on the hills to the S of Glenamuckrach where he thought there were some sinks, but these turned out to be a series of small waterfalls. When he got back Ross had cleaned up the tent, how domestic!

When Mark and George arrived, everyone had a cup of tea and then G and M headed up to Hugo Boss with some caps and a large drill. Over the course of the day Mark drilled and capped the tight parts of the cave near the entrance, enlarging the squeeze and the S-bend.

Ross and Tam headed over to Fern Cave, where they discovered that there was too much water cascading down into the chamber to make an easy descent. After, they found Frog Cave and headed in right to the far end where a streamway was reached disappearing both upstream and downstream into sumps. Ross took a cold plunge into the upstream sump but didn't manage to get in very far as the passage quickly constricted.

After re-grouping for a cup of tea, the team packed up and headed home.


Durness Caving News

Colin Coventry's dig in Smoo Cave is progressing. He is now six metres in and has the luxury of standing at the end. He's now looking for some wood to shore up a suspect area of roof.

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Casterton Fell Access

Access to the caves under Casterton Fell is meant to be regulated by the CNCC for the landowners using a permit system. The land agents for the owners arrived at Bull Pot Farm on 18th August to find the fell alive with cavers though no permits had been issued for that day. This was more than a little embarrassing for CNCC and BCA and could have consequences for access. A message has been issued by the BCA to its member clubs reminding them of the access system and noting that two clubs had even reported trips on the Internet for that date. It warned that the BCA can take action against members or member clubs who act against the interests of British cavers.

This had an interesting follow-up as in a previous Newsletter we had advertised a meet for the 18th August on Casterton Fell. The GSG received a letter from the BCA referring to that meets list and asked if we had caved there that day and why we hadn't asked for a permit.

In fact there hadn't been enough advance interest in the trip for that meet to go ahead, so it was cancelled before Ross asked for a permit. As it happened several members were there that day, but to go caving on Leck Fell which is not covered by the permit system, while other members enjoyed a walk over the fell and remained above ground. Ross and I both replied to the BCA and they accepted our explanations. In future we shall add a note to our published meets lists when trips require permits. We used to do that and seem to have dropped the habit several years ago.


Jura Trip Report

At the end of July I met up with Fraser Simpson and his partner Dawn for five days in the Franche Comte area of Eastern France. This region contains the Jura Mountains which extend into Switzerland, an area which is home to GSG member Thomas Arbenz who joined us for a day in France and who also hosted us for an evening at the end of the trip. A superb kayaking trip down the River Loue started the holiday, followed by a go on the local via ferrata on the same day.

We did two caving trips: the Baume St. Anne, a massive chamber with a mountain of debris at the bottom forming an impressive cone, and the Grotte Baudin, which is the exit route of the famous Verneau traverse. This starts off quite squalid, but after much scrabbling about in muddy crawls dramatically opens out into the huge main drain which rightly makes the traverse a classic. During our stay in France we also met up with Luc Funcken who we'd met in Slovenia, who lent us ropes and invited us for a superb barbeque in his impressive farmhouse which resembles something from a Stella Artois advert.

A couple of days later we were lucky enough to enjoy a second feast at Thomas' house in Matzendorf. Fraser didn't have time to go caving in Switzerland as he and Dawn had to head off to catch their plane, but Thomas took me to the Nidlenloch, a fossil rift cave near his house, which has suffered somewhat from a very large number of visits.

More details to follow in a bulletin article.


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New Keeper in Stronechrubie

Peter MacGregor the keeper for George Vestey's Assynt estate that includes the Traligill and Allt nan Uamh caving areas retired this year. His successor, Craig Ross, is now installed in Stronechrubie Cottage. We had a chat about access and he sees no need to change the present arrangements. That means any restrictions are only during the stalking season and then only if we leave the main paths through the estate. So a trip to Rana is okay but a digging visit to Campbell's Cave is definitely out unless we have asked for and received permission. The stalking season for red deer stags is from 1 July to 20 October and for hinds from 21 October to 15 February though each estate chooses its own dates within those limits. So please check with Craig if in any doubt about access during the sensitive times.

Craig tells me he did some caving when he was in the army and I think we'll succeed in getting him underground when we never managed to persuade Peter.

Sea Caves near Lossiemouth

While I was up in Scotland recently I took some time out to visit the sea caves along the fantastically sculptured sandstone cliffs between Burghead and Cullen. There were some interesting groups near Cummingston and Portknockie but the best caves by far were near Covesea.

At Clashach Cove (NJ 160 702) there's an attractive cave formed along a fault. 60m long x 5m wide x 4m high, with an attractive through cave nearby. Very photogenic sculpted sandstone floors in this bay. Covesea itself has several good caves / sea arches.

  • Sir Robert's Stables Cave (or Laird's Stable Cave) NJ 176708 is a big chamber with three entrances. It's dry at the back of the cave and a local laird apparently hid his horses in here during some rebellion or other. Good 17th and 18th century graffiti and I spotted a large millstone half buried in sand on the beach nearby. God knows how it got there - presumably cut in situ.
  • Sculptor's Cave is better known. NJ 175706 A very roomy cave containing some excellent Pictish engravings - although much obscured by more modern graffiti.
  • Nearby NJ 175706, a 15m scramble up a steep grassy bank reaches Giant's Dome - which is basically a big swirl chamber high above the shoreline. Much frequented by fulmars.

I imagine they're well known to members in the area but they are worth spending an hour or two for anyone visiting the area. Watch the tide though!

Robin (Tav) Taviner

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Cave Pearls of Meghalaya

Coming next summer is the first volume of a planned trilogy on the limestone caves of Meghalaya - Cave Pearls of Meghalaya. It is being assembled by Thomas Arbenz with contributions from other members of the Caving in the Abode of the Clouds expeditions, including GSG members Mark Tringham on geology and Dan Harries on biospeleology. The first volume covers the results of the more recent expeditions in the Pala Range and Kopili Valley and will have about 200 pages in full colour. The other two volumes will cover the north and then south parts of the Shnongrim Ridge.

£26 if collected and £32.30 including postage and packing within the UK. Send your cheque made payable to "GSG" to Ivan and include your postal address. You are invited to donate a bit more as Gift Aid to the GSG. We'll reclaim the tax and pass it on with the donation to the project.

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GSG Survey Training - Saturday 29 September

Four trainees and two instructors gathered on Sept. 29th for a survey training and practice trip. We started off at Becki and Greg's house in Polmont, where Ivan and Andy Peggie showed off the tools of the trade: compass and clino, or DistoX and PDA. Ivan talked us through a very informative set of PowerPoint slides and we discussed different techniques, calibration, potential problems with magnetic dykes, and the use of theodolites and laser levels.

Then we headed out to Bowden Hill Mine to try out our new-gained knowledge. After a few false starts we surveyed in using the compass and clino, and on the way out surveyed the same passage with the DistoX. In spite of our failure to calibrate the instruments before going underground, the different methods agreed pretty well in the end. Ivan and Andy sent out spreadsheets with the data and calculations for us to try out at home.

Thanks very much Ivan and Andy, for a very informative and useful practice session.

Becki Carter

2012 Meets and Events
Oct 27/28 Durness GSG Annual Dinner in Smoo Cave Hotel
Nov 9-11 Yorkshire Beginners meet, Gavel pot. Exchange with Short Drop if numbers permit
Dec 8/9 Assynt GSG Xmas party
Dec 1/2 Yorkshire Magnetometer Pot/Hunt pot, intermediate level SRT trips
Dec 8/9 Assynt GSG Xmas party
Jan 12/13 Yorkshire King Pot - harder trip
Mar 9/10 Yorkshire Jingling Pot - fairly straightforward SRT
Apr 6/7 Applecross Weekend meet
May 2/3 Assynt Mendip Migration
May 18/19 Vale of Eden Weekend meet (provisional date)
June 1/2 Yorkshire Sleets Gill/Outsleets Beck
July 6/7 Yorkshire Shuttleworth Pot - bring your camera

Note:- listing of a meet where a permit is required does not indicate that one has been obtained. Only if there is predicted to be enough interest for the meet to go ahead will one be requested.

If anyone is willing to organise a club caving trip, tell me and I can send off for any permits required. Also let me know of any caves you'd like to visit. Contact me with your suggestions at 07942 985305 (mobile), 0131 535 3119 (work), or email at ross.davidson @

In particular I'll probably be away in February, leaving a bit of a gap in the meets list if anyone would like to volunteer to organise something to fill it.

Ross Davidson

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Membership News

One new member joined us in the last quarter:

Amber MacLeod - hails from British Columbia where her mother discovered, explored and developed the Vancouver Island Show Caves at Horne Lake - She claims to have been caving for the maximum possible time having been conceived underground and caved in BC and throughout the USA with her family ever since.

  • Imogen Furlong - has announced "On 14th September 2012, Imogen Furlong gave birth by emergency c-section to Rowan, a strapping 11 pound 1 ounce baby (5.03kg). Rowan spent his first seven days in the Special Care Baby Unit with breathing difficulties, but baby and mum and dad are all now at home safe and well and will be attending the GSG Annual Dinner."

Imo also revealed that she didn't see Rowan after the birth for another 12 hours, and recovery from the c-section provides her the perfect excuse for not helping Colin with his cave digs during the dinner weekend!

  • Goon - Ian Chandler made a plea in Descent for cavers willing to act in a film he is making for Speleomedia at the International Congress in 2013. With all expenses paid and located in Matienzo how could Goon resist? He will be in Spain for the last fortnight of October so will miss the GSG Annual Dinner. He has, however, designed and printed menus and crafted the Gnome Ode as usual.
  • Rosemary Jones - is recovering from a fall that could so easily have had far more serious consequences. On Friday 20th July she and Bob were walking high in the Austrian mountains in the South Tyrol when she slipped and fell 46m down the mountainside into a gully at 2300m altitude below the Gliderscharte. She injured her left side fracturing shoulder blade, tibia and fibula and dislocating elbow, thumb and ankle plus acquiring scrapes and lacerations to arms and superficial injuries to her back. Bob made her comfortable in survival blankets and spare clothing and set off down the mountain to find a mobile phone signal.Two hours and one fall later he found assistance and called for help.

The Sterzing Mountain and Cave Rescue team were called out at 18:15hrs and Pelikan II the rescue helicopter was scrambled. Though Bob had Rosemary's location on his GPS receiver, different co-ordinate systems delayed finding her. The team found her severely hypothermic at 19:45 hrs just as a severe thunderstorm started to envelop the mountain. They whisked her away after very hurried first aid as the stream flowing down the gully swelled to a raging torrent. The helicopter had to use headlights to see well enough to pick up Rosemary and her rescuers then fly to the hospital in Brixen.

Rosemary is full of praise for her treatment at the hospital and for the menu. Bob and Rosemary had Snowcard insurance which paid for repatriation. That included the nine seats taken up by her stretcher in the plane flying her back to the UK, a seat for Bob and one for the nurse sent out to accompany them back to Inverness. I hear that the toilets had to be semi-dismantled twice to manoeuvre her into and out of the plane!

"I'll be back" and thanks everyone for their kind messages.

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From the Lunatic Fringe

In connection with Egyptian archaeology, I was recently side-tracked down a very curious by-way when I read a privately printed volume entitled 'Reverse Theory' (Christopher Bell (2010), The Priory, Brighton - signed copy no less!) Embedded within this hilarious thesis, which of course answers everything about life, the universe etc., is a proposition that calcium carbonate is responsible for accreting and building up pebbles on beaches, in a similar manner to the formation of cave pearls, rather than coastal erosion breaking them down. The author proposes that exposed outcrops of limestone remain soft for a certain length of time (which for him severely reduces the age of the earth to Creationist dimensions), so that when the pyramids (it's always the pyramids!) were built, this 'stone' could be cut with wooden rods, because it was still soft and pumice-like, and blocks carried up the building sites by people. They only became hard when exposed to the heat of the sun, apparently. He ignores the 55 ton granite blocks in the King's Chamber naturally, they don't fit into his theory that soft metals like copper could not work hard rock.

He elaborates further: dinosaurs did not die off 65 million years ago, but more like 65,000 years ago because a great flood, probably the end of an ice age, wiped out the sea creatures (food source) that make up limestone and then encased dinosaur skeletons in even softer limestone. This flood swept across the earth, carrying off all the trees and vegetation - hence the coalfields. This catastrophe theory goes further: some humans, (yes, apparently they were around then) finding themselves against the wall for similar reasons, evolved 'downwards' to become other mammals!

It is truly brilliant reading. Craters on the moon are the result of bursting bubbles from within the ground, rather than meteor strikes. There are not enough stone age skeletons around to reflect the population levels at that time etc. etc. No mention is made of igneous rocks by the way, limestone is the cause of everything, oh, and sand, which was deposited by erosion into the oceans from places like the Grand Canyon - er , isn't this a flaw in his argument? An excellent evening's entertainment, I recommend it.


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Elphin Caving Centre

Confirmed Taigh nam Famh Bookings (contact Hut Warden for latest


Date (nights) Group Size
Oct 24 -> 30 GSG use before and after Annual Dinner ??
Nov 23/24 Chris ?
Dec 7/8 GSG Xmas Party ??
2013 New Year Probable GSG use. Dates and numbers unknown ??
Jan 18/19 IMC 15
25/26 GSG Burns Supper ??
27->1 Feb Landlopers 4-6
Feb 15/16 GUPA 15-20
Mar 15/16 GSG ??
29-31 JMCS 12
Apr 28->8 May GSG Mendip Migration ??
May 10->18 Craven 12
24->26 Ochils MC 15
31->2 Corrie Mulzie MC 15
Jun 7/8 Jacobites MC 12
14/15 Campsie H.C. 12
21/22 GSG Midsummer BBQ ??
24-27 Manual Contreras (provisional) ??
28/29 8 Mile High MC 12

Note:- '??' for a GSG event means that the entire hut has been reserved for the GSG and guests

Hut fees are £5.00 per night for non-members and £2.50 for GSG, Bradford and BEC members. Reduced to £3.00 and £2.00 for children, students, the unemployed and OAPs. Camping is at a reduced rate of £2.00 only when the hut is full. Day fees are £1.00 for members and £2.00 for non-members.

If you want to stay in the hut please contact the Hut Warden - Peter Dowswell - to check if there will be space (Tel home:- 01463 229250, email:- hutbookings @

Hut Report

When in the hut in September I noticed the gas fire in the front bunkroom was missing the sight glass that allows you to view the pilot light. With that missing it was no longer sealed and fumes would have leaked into the room. I took it out of service and the following week Peter contacted our local Achnasheen-based Gas Safe engineer (the replacement for CORGI registration). He repaired it and gave our hut its annual gas safety inspection with a strong recommendation that we fit carbon monoxide monitors. We shall do so.

The hut is usually reserved for GSG members over the New Year period. If you want to stay there then please tell Peter Dowswell now so he'll feel better about turning down applications from other groups.

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The retaining wall at the back of the shed has been completed and the gap between it and the ground behind it filled in. Since winter now approaches I don't expect much building work will be done before next spring.

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Assynt News

Traligill Towers

It isn't really called that, but the construction of George Vestey's new lodge is now well advanced It is sited to the north of the road up the Traligill glen with the access track leaving it 50 metres before the concrete ford over the Allt Poll an Droighinn. The track follows the line of an old route to a medieval or pre-medieval field system and farmstead. John Crae's research found it was the site of an old farm abandoned in the 19th century called Ach' an Droighinn (or Auchindrain) which translates as Field of the Hawthorn. An Internet search found a report titled Archaeological Watching Brief and Controlled Topsoil Strip at:'EHG3643'

This give an account of what is there and what was found during excavation for the track and the lodge. The short answer is almost nothing: just old field dykes and a clearance cairn.

The new lodge is well sited and should have good views up and down the glen. It is almost invisible from the main road. Only the peaked tower roofs can be seen poking above a low ridge. As for its name, the report refers to it as Assynt Lodge so I expect that is what it'll be, though I rather prefer the alliterative Traligill Towers.

The Alt Reopens

Our local bar opened for business again in late August, but various 'challenges' meant that full service hadn't quite started in mid-September when only a limited menu was available. What there was, however, was very good.

The new owners are Rob and Les Sherman who have moved north from Liverpool with their six chickens. They had been looking for a while to buy in northern Scotland and it took from April to August to complete the deal for the Alt.

Latest News:- If you want to dine it helps if you phone the Alt a fewhours in advance so Les can cook to order (01854 666 260). And the chickens now number five after one came off second best in an argument with a passing 4x4.

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GSG publications (prices to non-members in brackets)

Decades in the Dark 20.00 (20.00) + 2.00 p&p
Caves of Skye 6.00 (8.50)
Caves of Assynt 6.00 (8.50)*
The Southern Highlands 1.20 (1.50)
Appin Cave Guide 1.50 (2.00)*
Appin Cave Guide Supplement 2.00 (2.50)
Caves of Applecross and Kishorn 4.00 (6.00)
GSG Ties 5.00
Buddy reading (Caving in Couplets) 2.00 (2.50)
NAMHO Field Trip Booklets - set of 3 2.50 (4.00)

* out of print - photocopies available

Postage extra - order from:

Alan Jeffreys,

8 Scone Gardens,



(0131 661 1123)


Ivan Young,

45 Maitland Road,


West Lothian,

EH29 9AP

(0131 333 3084)

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