GSG Newsletter 147

August 2011

Scotland's Finest Formations *

Applecross is the place to be this year. In the last issue we reported on the exploration of Flake Pot just downstream from Cave of the Liar. This has a rather tight entrance so when David Morrison's girlfriend, Jane, could not get in on Saturday 16th April they wandered downhill to a flood resurgence he'd been meaning to investigate. This is one of a series and is currently known as Flood Resurgence No 2. A short dig later and he squirmed through into a 1m high 3m wide canal passage. After 20m it was still going, so he decided he'd better rejoin Jane and return later with more muscle to open the entrance out a bit. The following day, reinforced by Ritchie Simpson and Toby Speight, the entrance succumbed and all four of them grew steadily more excited as the canal passage continued onwards. After about 50 m they entered a chamber and soon started seeing more and then more formations. With impressive stalactites hanging down to their knees great care was needed, but by the time they'd reached the furthest point they knew they'd found the best display of formations in Scotland.

Since its discovery the discoverers have guided several GSG groups round the cave and continued their explorations. Their first trip had explored about 140m to a choke with several side passages adding at least another 40m. Now after several visits the total stands at about 300m with possibilities for more that'll require some more serious digging. What slows progress is that the entrance is an active flood resurgence. The first 50m floods to the roof after a few days of rain and showers, and no doubt very much faster after heavy rain. It then takes a few days for the water level to drop far enough to get through the canal section and longer before the crawls to the further reaches are passable. With the 'summer' weather we've had since it was discovered it's no wonder there haven't been many trips.

* Those few who have dived the downstream sumps at the foot of the Waterslide in Assynt may disagree, and argue that the formations in Northern Lights are Scotland's finest, but most cavers will never see them.

STOP PRESS - Latest news on discoveries - after the next item

Protecting the Formations

You will have noticed that the location of the new cave is not being publicised. The formations in other heavily decorated caves such as Cave of the Liar in Applecross and Lower Traligill Cave in Assynt are now sad remnants of their former glory. We don't want the formations in this new discovery to suffer the same fate. While we consider what to do, the only safe course is to keep the knowledge of the entrance co-ordinates restricted. Perhaps the 50m of canal passage will discourage anyone except those who'll take enough care and will respect what they find. Perhaps not. Do we take the risk or do we install a gate? If it is to be gated that leads to the problems of getting permission to do it, deciding how to gate it and then manufacturing and installing it. That could be simple compared to what will then be the continuing problem of deciding who then controls access and how they do it. Perhaps it'll be simpler to just fill the entrance back in again!


!!! Alien Encounters in Applecross !!!

On 23rd July the trio of David, Ritchie and Jane took Martin Grass, on holiday in the area, on a tour of Flood Resurgence No 2. When they continued along the Swiss Cheese Crawl to the end of the cave he turned back to photograph the formations and missed out on what came next. The trio first enlarged and passed a squeeze at the end of Rising Chamber, but only a few metres later after a left hand bend it became too tight. They turned their attention to another possibility further back down the cave and after passing the Face-Hugger found first stooping then walking passage with chunks of flowstone underfoot fallen from above. This entered a larger chamber with some unique formations. They resemble the eggs in the Alien films except stuck to the roof instead of the floor. At the end of Xenomorph Chamber a slab barred entry to a crawl. They exited happy with progress leaving a chamber with open leads to the west for another day. Of note was some charcoal on a shelf to one side of the passage.

The next trip on the 28th July returned to the obstructive slab and got past it into a 14m long chamber with two ways on. David thinks it was originally filled by a pool that drained and covered the floor with chunks of crystal. They found sheep bones and then a shellfish midden. Both are pointers to being near the surface. A run-in to one side might indicate an old entrance. One continuation is full of hanging death and the other down towards the stream, which has to be flowing at a lower level, will take some digging. They surveyed over 100m along the main line back through the Swiss Cheese Crawl.

These latest discoveries have increased the passage length to a conservatively estimated 360m with over 300m of it surveyed. This evidently puts it in second place for this year's J'Rat Digging Award (GSG NL 141 p11). A Scottish cave winning it would definitely have made J'Rat very happy, but a determined push is going to be required. The explorers are more than willing to share the glory with any other GSG members who will help with the digging and surveying. Photos and Videos -Toby Speight's photos from the first exploration can be found at :

Ritchie's video of Xenomorph Chamber and David's photos of Xenomorph Chamber and the passage leading to it

LATEST - On 3rd August David and Ritchie hammer The Slot to enter 20-25m of low wet crawls with two leads - upstream and downstream. FR No.2 is now Scotland's 5th longest cave.

The GSG Jubilee Events

Exhibition & Reception - 27 May

This Friday afternoon event in the rooms of the Edinburgh Royal Society was well attended by members and ex-members, but only few of the other invitees turned up. Andrew Kitchener and Alan Saville from the Museum were there as was Stuart Monro Scientific Director of Dynamic Earth, one of the places that may host the exhibition this summer. Welcome guests were quite a few ex-members including Jim and Sheila Campbell.

The exhibition consisted of ten panels with photographs on both sides, a glass cabinet with samples of rocks plus various formations saved from mines that are now gone, and two dummies; one in 60's gear wearing goon and boiler suit with miner's lamp and a rope ladder, and one in modern oversuit with SRT gear and LED light.

Wine and nibbles were served and Goon gave a short talk about the Group and its achievements over its first half-century followed by Tim Lawson on the scientific results achieved by members. A large video screen and DVD player brought by Fraser Simpson meanwhile showed videos, a PowerPoint of our work in Claonaite and photos of the latest discovery in Applecross.

The exhibition is now installed at the Edinburgh International Climbing Arena, Ratho for a few weeks with several more places being considered for later this year.

Memories of a Jubilee Weekend and a Pre-Prandial Historical Pub Crawl

When the dinner was first mooted and booked Milche and I thought it would be a nice idea if on the Friday night those who were around could gather for a pub-crawl around all the pubs that the GSG have used as their meeting places over the years. Through checking out the newsletter and with help from Goon supplying the full list then Ivan with the route, we narrowed them down to the following:

1963-64   Deacon Brodie's       1965-66   Stag's Head
1966-67   Travellers' Tryst     1967-73   Milne's Bar
1973-75   Doolittle's Bar       1975-78   Zodiac Tavern
1978-82   Peppers               1982-83   Clarke's Bar
1983-2002 Cambridge Bar         2002-03   Oxford Bar
2003-06   Cambridge Bar         2006-     Cumberland Bar

This left us with a slight dilemma: The Travellers' Tryst and Doolittle's no longer exist so that took out a couple from the list. Then The Zodiac, Peppers and the Cambridge are the same place so that too narrowed things down again. This left us with seven bars to visit. The list was put up on the members' website with an invitation to all to join in, starting at Deacon Brodie's as between us we tried to work out a logical route.

At the mooted starting time of 4.00 pm we were in Deacon Brodie's on the corner of the High Street and the Mound. Here we came across John Crae, and were shortly joined by John (Tangent) Williams suffering from having taken part in the Edinburgh Beer Festival the previous night. We partook of our regulatory pint (Deuchars) and after a suitable time moved on to Milne's Bar on Hanover Street.

As we arrived who should be going down the steps before us but Snab and Anita. Snab was incognito as he had been banned from Milne's Bar in the 1960s after his stag do. However he quickly owned up and the ban was lifted (I doubt if there was anyone else in the bar who had even been there in the 60s! It just goes to show how short memories are nowadays) Deuchars again.

From there it was quite a long walk to the next on the list, now known as The Cambridge. Anita and I made our way gently along George Street, having sent the men on ahead to get the beers in! At this point I was still happy that the pubs we had visited were still fairly recognisable as to how they had been in the past, but The Cambridge has changed out of all recognition. The small back room snug now has glass doors out to the back lane and has moved into the gastro pub mode.

Next on the list was The Oxford, used briefly in 2002-03 I think while The Cambridge was undergoing one if it's makeovers. We got to the door of this pub, still a select group of six, and found that actually although we could just about put our heads in the door, the chance of getting to the bar was to say the least remote. As we were discussing what to do next a taxi drew up to disgorge a passenger and it just happened to be free for hire and was a six seater, so we grabbed the opportunity and moved on to Clarke's Bar at the bottom of Dundas Street. This pub was frequented from 1982-83, again probably when The Cambridge was undergoing another makeover. Clarke's Bar holds happy memories for me as a place where I met up again with people I had known as a student. It is also the place where a certain Mr Salvona gave me a right ticking off for speaking to someone who a) was not my husband and b) was someone he did not know. At that time we had Alison at home as a baby and Milche used to baby-sit while I got a night out with friends.

We had decided to have a couple of pints in Clarke's Bar to make up for the one missed in The Oxford so having found a vacant table, we settled in for a rest. The beers on offer here were Belhaven and McEwans' 70 and 80 shilling.

By this time we were rather wondering where the rest of the GSG reinforcements had got to so we made contact with Ivan who was at his desk still printing dinner tickets and sorting out participants for the following night. However he told us that Pete and Angie Glanvill were around (in the Cumberland). We managed to make contact with them and they came and joined us.

From here we were advised that The Stag's Head (1965-66) might be one to miss and given the time constraints and walking limitations we decided to make straight for The Cumberland where we could get some food. Once we arrived there the party was swelled a little by Ivan, Ross and Imogen who joined us later on; then by Simon Brooks and Shary. We had a lovely meal and it was great to catch up with people. Again there was a different choice of beers so more to tickle the taste-buds, Caledonian Blonde seemed to be popular and Festival Ale was also very acceptable.

Sadly we and Snab and Anita had to bail out by 10.30 in order to get back to Princes Street to catch a bus to Musselburgh and our campsite, but I understand that the rest of the party enjoyed each other's company until closing time before they all made their way back to their various places of abode. As the night wore on we became increasingly conscious that a certain Mr J-Rat would have really enjoyed the occasion and would have well ahead of the team - and we could even have sent him off to take in the two outliers we missed. Vale J-Rat!

In spite of the small numbers we think we did GSG proud as preliminary to the dinner. I know we missed out a couple, but circumstances were rather against us.

So: thank you to John, Tangent, Snab and Anita, and those who turned up in the Cumberland later on for taking this on board. We did our best to do the club proud. Hic!

On a further note the whole weekend was just wonderful. We had an extremely interesting trip down Gilmerton Cove on Saturday afternoon and the dinner itself was a superb occasion. Thank you to everyone who had a hand in the organisation.

Kirsty Mills


On 18th June, some 92 GSG members and guests (partners, offspring) gathered at the King's Manor Hotel in Edinburgh for the Club's Golden Jubilee Dinner. This was, by any standard, a splendid occasion, and the organisers thoroughly deserved the congratulations that came their way during the course of the evening.

The venue was very well chosen. The hotel allocated us a large dining room plus adjoining space for the Exhibition, and for anyone who wanted to cool off after dancing or to enjoy a quiet chat in a comfortable armchair, the reception area was also available.

The private bar opened at 6.00 (Julian and Bob Mehew made an early start in the lounge bar while Eleanor and I were getting into our glad rags). Having an hour's drinking time before dinner was definitely in the best GSG tradition and gave us time to start renewing old acquaintances. It also provided an opportunity to visit the Exhibition for those who hadn't already seen it.

The food was good hotel grub. I thoroughly enjoyed my menu choices -

the sticky toffee pudding in particular being "to die for" - and was impressed by the slick service. I've never seen so many waiting staff, managed by a maitre d' who prowled the room with a walkie-talkie on his belt, to make sure everything ran to plan.

After the meal the usual toasts were proposed, but we then departed unexpectedly from the advertised programme. First Jim Salvona recited his 'Founder's Ode' and presented Goon with gift from the Group a LCD photo frame full of photos of . Goon. Then Ivan announced his award to "the longest-standing member of the club". Jim Salvona earned this one in recognition of his long underground wait for rescue, but it took some time for him to realise that he rather than Goon was the recipient.

Kirsty and Milche came forward next to present awards to some unwary attendees. Jim got a cushion with a GSG crest for a soft landing next time he falls off a ladder, Peter a framed copy of The Hut Warden's Song, and Ivan a GSG Treasurer's Box with Chequebook (empty!) and pen (exhausted). Goon received the GSG Reminder Book containing a memory stick. Carol Jeffreys also received a well-deserved award for supporting (or should that be putting up with) Goon for so many years - a packet of Quavers in a large gold box from Milche as every time he stayed with them before Kirsty and he were married he had to take her some Quavers!

There followed the first public rendition of the GSG Anthem - composed and sung by Snab. Tony Audsley was there with a camcorder. View it at

The evening continued with drinking (the Brain Wrecker beer went down a treat), dancing to the Duncan Black Ceilidh Band, more drinking and lots more chatting. And a chance to see the almost-finished version of Fraser's Claonaite film which is excellent.

Plaudits - to the organising committee for putting on such a splendid celebration of the club's first fifty years.

Complaints - so many people that there wasn't time to chat to more than half of them.

Special requests - can we do it again for our Diamond Jubilee please!

Carol Walford

Golden Jubilee Weekend

I took the opportunity to ride the motorbike from Aberystwyth up to Edinburgh. I was pleased to leave the rain behind at Warrington following the first refuelling stop and enjoyed a dry and brisk motorway stint up to Lockerbie for more fuel and a welcome fish supper next to the railway station.

I stayed overnight with Gareth at Causewayside and thus only a short walk on Saturday morning to the Mercat Cross where everyone participating in the Underground Edinburgh tour organised by John Crae gathered. It was good to be reacquainted with Carol and Julian, Bob and Rosemary, Jackie, Becki and Greg, and John, who promptly led us to the reception desk for the tour of Mary King Close. This was the start of an interesting mix of commercial and private subterranean venues, with adequate time to enjoy a mid-morning coffee, chat and tour of St. Giles cathedral between the morning events, and a good lunch break before reconvening at the Castle to explore King David's tower.

Vaulted ceilings seemed a common thread to all the visits, whether the capped tenements of Mary King's Close, the catacombs below South Bridge or the foundations of King David's tower in Edinburgh Castle. Each was accompanied by their own story, and the stories, tall or otherwise, spanned an impressive number of centuries. For incidents per metre of underground passageway, there appears to be a tremendous number of murders, instances of smuggling contraband and body snatching compared with any wild caves that I know, but I still find caves infinitely more fascinating underground spaces! The metal staircase constructed to descend King David's tower represented a pleasant alternative to fixed ladders down equivalent voids. We also enjoyed some fine views south over the City towards the Pentland Hills from the battlements of the Castle in areas off-limits to the public.

Travelling to the Hotel for the celebratory meal proved a much longer bus journey than anticipated. Valuable time was spent catching up with old acquaintances, and we were soon called to our seats. Once sat to eat, the meal and later speeches occupied much of the evening before the breakout for the ceilidh. Despite this, I had a good chat with folk around the table, many of whom I had not seen for years: Graham, Dan, Paul, Fraser and partners, Becki and Greg. I thoroughly enjoyed the meal and the venue and also my first opportunity to read and appreciate the posters that had been prepared for the Jubilee year. I also succumbed to the marketing initiative and departed with tie, beer mat and copies of both Jubilee publications! There was barely time to circulate and chat to old friends before it was time to catch the night bus back into Edinburgh. Unfortunately, the Reception staff provided inaccurate information and said the departure time was an hour earlier than the time when the bus actually turned up: better that way round I suppose? That led Bob, Rosemary and me to break off earlier than necessary and there was also a long walk from the South Bridge stop to Causewayside and a very late bedtime. (Ed:- and Bob and Rosemary found their bus passes didn't work on night buses :( )

On Sunday, there was little time to meet up with anyone except to collect two packs of Jubilee beer from Andy Peggie. There I enjoyed a coffee and chat with Andy after loading the beer bottles, one pack disguised with a dog food bag and tied onto the rear carrier and the other pack split and shared across various panniers. All bottles travelled intact to be savoured another day following the ride to Talybont via the Moffat road and A6 alternative to the motorways, which were rather blasted by cross winds that day. A fine weekend to mark the occasion but celebrations could have easily extended over a much longer weekend.

Peter Dennis

Jubilee Weekend Underground Activities

The majority of pre-dinner activities were naturally in Edinburgh. The exception was a trip to the Trinafour caves. John Heathcote stopped on his way south to meet up with a group of five who'd travelled up the A9 from Edinburgh.

In central Edinburgh commercial tours of Mary King's Close then South Bridge Vaults were followed by a visit to lower parts of King David II's tower within the Half Moon Battery of Edinburgh Castle. This had been arranged and was guided by John Crae. They then continued to vaults beneath the Great Hall stocked with medieval costumes and some replica armour.

Another group enjoyed their visit to Gilmerton Cove. Their evident interest and many questions encouraged the tour guide to stretch the tour well beyond its normal length.

GSG Jubilee Slovenia Expedition

At last count about 20 members, partners and offspring should be assembled at Speleocamp in early August. The number has wavered up and down (mostly down) over the last few months and a general invite has been extended to anyone else who wishes to join in. The Group has bought 300m of 10.5mm semi-static rope for the expedition and would have bought an inflatable for the large canal passages if there'd been more vehicles guaranteed to make the trip. As it is only Julie Hesketh and family were known to be driving and they are already loaded up with extra tackle.

Latest news is that caving in Croatia is very regulated and permits from the Ministry of Culture are required. Applications need names, addresses, passport numbers, dates, travel details and the caves to be visited. Whether there will be enough time to get that all arranged is doubtful, but there are plenty of caves to occupy everyone in Slovenia

Jubilee Photos and Videos

Photos of the Jubilee Dinner and other events can be found on the GSG private web server. Toby Speight's set of Dinner photos

Tony Audsley had a midget camcorder at the dinner and used it to record Snab's rendition of the GSG Anthem. It can be seen at:

The GSG Anthem
by Peter (Snab) MacNab 2011

Scots wha hae been underground,
Whaur caverns measureless abound,
We hae dug and we hae found,
Main nor two or three!
Mighty chambers, tiny crawls,
Roaring rivers, waterfalls,
Pitches, sumps, we've found them all!
We are the G.S.G!

Let's think of how it all begun,
Goon's early antics, done for fun,
Led to the club in sixty one
He'd formed the G.S.G!
Inside museums hidden spines
Exploring all the local mines
Then doon the road to the Pennines
And speleotherapy!

Then onwards, downwards, search for more,
With all of Scotland to explore,
Entrenching tools were our claymores!
We tackled it with glee!
A base with Assynt's wondrous views,
The Inch and Allt with plenty booze,
A mighty list of digging crews
Found caves repeatedly!

Then Schiehallion, Appin, Skye,
And Applecross o'er pass so high,
The thirst for finds you can't deny,
It's there for all to see!
Now fifty years of finds so rare,
Throughout the world by those that dare,
Not just the caves, think of the bear,
Found by the G.S.G.!

repeat verse 1

To the tune Hey Tuttie Tatie better known as that used for Robert Burns' composition Scots Whae Hae


If a caver's not engaged in his enjoyment, - his enjoyment,
Or pursuing of a subterranean plan, - 'nean plan
His capacity for chaos and disorder, - and disorder,
Is far greater than that of any other man, - other man.
When he gets up very early in the morning, - in the morning,
And finds that last night's washing up's not done, - up's not done,
And all he hears is other people snoring, - people snoring,
A Hut Warden's lot is not a happy one, - happy one.

With a hundred dirty dishes to be done, - to be done,
A Hut Warden's lot is not a happy one, - happy one.

After breakfast when the others have gone caving, - have gone caving,
And still the washing up has not been done, - not been done,
It is then that you will hear the Warden raving, - Warden raving,
For cleaning up is not a lot of fun, - lot of fun.
When he's last one to be leaving on a Sunday, - on a Sunday,
And the water and the gas are still turned on, - still turned on,
The rubbish must be put out before Monday, - before Monday,
A Hut Warden's lot is not a happy one,  - happy one.

When he's created all these meals for our partaking - our partaking,
And produced great dishes from all round the world, - round the world
With curries, chillis, and such food of his own making, - his own making
It's enough to make the others all feel proud, - all feel proud
With Burns Suppers, Christmas meals and summer feasts, - summer feasts,
And festive meals for many different events, -  'rent events,
There's been fun and laughter dodging midgie beasts, - midgie beasts,
A Hut Warden's lot is quite a happy one, - happy one.

With apologies to Gilbert and Sullivan - from Milch & Kirsty Mills

GSG Annual Dinner 2011

This year's annual dinner is being held in the Caledonian Hotel, Ullapool on Saturday 29th October. This is a break from our traditional Sutherland venue of the Inch. We did ask but got no reply. We then thought about Inchnadamph Lodge, but we needed external caterers and those in Ullapool continually failed to supply any information so that too was ruled out. In contrast the Caledonian has been very responsive and has offered a very good deal for accommodation. For those wondering where it is, the hotel is just up the street from the harbour and the fish and chip shop - the black and white building with turrets at each corner.

The hotel has offered a special price for bed and breakfast for the Saturday night of £21 per person. For the Friday night bed and breakfast is £28 per person. There is only limited accommodation so book quickly by phoning the hotel direct at 01854 612306 or email them at:

reservations.Caledonian @

Tell them that you are part of the Grampian Speleological Group. Don't use online booking as that won't know about the special deal. You can find details about the hotel at

Finally - many thanks to Rosemary Jones for persevering despite serial unanswered emails to find and book the Caledonian Hotel for us this year.

Dinner Coach

A coach is being arranged to take members from Elphin to the hotel for the dinner and decant them back again after the bar closes. The cost is predicted to be a fiver if enough people sign up for it. When you make your booking please tell us if you will want to use it.

Pre-Dinner Digging

Several members have expressed some interest in caving and digging during the days before the Dinner as has been the case before previous Assynt dinners. If you are interested then let us know and we'll attempt to co-ordinate it. The hut is empty so no problems there and there is usually a gap in stalking at the end of October so I wouldn't expect any access restrictions even for Campbell's Cave. I will check with Peter MacGregor well before the dinner once I know who is likely to be there and what they are planning.

If there are enough members in Assynt during the pre-dinner week, shall I ask the Alt to organise a curry evening for us? On the Thursday evening perhaps?

GSG Jubilee Memorabilia

Decades in the Dark £20.00

A celebration of fifty years of GSG caving this A4 paperback has 160 pages, includes over 370 photographs, and includes contributions from 27 GSG members linked by Goon's history of the Group. It is in greyscale except for a full colour front cover and sixteen pages of photographs.

De Profundis £3.00

A Personal Miscellany of 50 Years Impressions in Verse. By Alan L. Jeffreys

Ranging from haiku and limerick to free verse and ballad this A5 booklet holds a collection of Goon's caving verse most published for the first time. Forty-two pieces on 25 pages.

GSG Ties £10.00

Most of our stock of the new GSG tie was sold at the Jubilee Dinner but there are a few left

GSG Badges £5.00

A full colour GSG crest 4" / 10cm diameter All items are available from Alan - post and packing is £2 for Decades in the Dark all others £0.50. Only one charge per order Send order with cheque payable to "GSG" to Allan Jeffreys, 8 Scone Gardens, Edinburgh, EH8 7DQ



Site Condition Monitoring

The SCM trips for SNH have been completed and a first draft of the report submitted to SNH. The final trip was to take a few more photos in Rana and Claonaite Seven to supplement those taken since the breakthroughs in Rana Hole. Unlike the other caves in the survey these passages are joining the monitoring programme while they are still relatively untrampled. Also unlike most of the other caves taping has been done early and that should help preserve the features being monitored.

The boulder that appeared in the entrance to Uamh an Claonaite (GSG NL 146, p4) is no more. Tony Boycott drilled and 'popped' it during the Mendip Migration. A fine specimen of the local quartzite it took forever to drill and wore out a new drill bit to do so - the GSG bought Tony a new one. It was comprehensively demolished with only one large chunk left at the bottom. This promptly tumbled down into the cave to block the way down through the boulder choke. Ross and Tony between them managed to shift it enough for it to continue on down into the stream passage. Problem solved.

The report we've done for SNH covers the main caves in the Ben More SSSI, but doesn't include the most heavily visited set - the Bone Caves. They are now asking us to quote for a report on these for their Quaternary sediment content and are considering widening the scope to include the animal remains as well. If so they'd want Bear Cave to be included. At least we shouldn't have any problems with the weather when we do the field work for them.


Mendip Migration 2011

A promised mass assault on Assynt led to several cottages being booked and a prophesied overflowing hut. This probably led to a lower turnout then usual from the Scottish members. Over the week and a half of the Migration a lot of original work was done:-

Rana Hole - All the digging apparatus, the flume, the headgear and the bicycle winch was dismantled with some moved to Campbell's Cave and most removed from the hill. Some ladders were also moved to Campbell's so a short electron ladder is now required to reach the top of the fixed ladders in the entrance shaft.

Campbell's Cave - Much time was spent by Mark and Norman rebuilding the retaining wall which had collapsed over the winter months. The hauling gear was enhanced with a second parallel ladder allowing two counter-balancers in series to haul skips from a greater depth. A total of 35 man-days also saw 540 loads extracted which must add up to between 16 and 21 tonnes.

Toll Radain - Five days digging saw 369 loads extracted and several boulders pulverised by Tony who'd also been busy in Campbell's and Three G's. The rift is now 6m deep and continuing vertically down. It has now been covered until the next digging season.

Three G's Cave - Several days digging has increased the length to about 7m. At present 3m of low passage is visible with the draught now issuing from a fissure in the floor.

Traligill Rising - It had been dry weather for some time and the rising had stopped flowing when Simon Brooks dived a 1m lower than normal Sump 1. He visited Sump 2 and surveyed out from there.

Tree Hole - Simon intended to dive the downstream sump, but couldn't pass the squeeze into Twat's Temple. Matt Voysey investigated Scott Robinson's old dig and pushed it to a rift which is thought to head down to Twat's Temple. Running water can be heard and it looks a viable dig. Later in the week Tony B drilled a few holes and enlarged the entrance. Some clearance is now required.

Disappointment Cave - Matt and Mandy Voysey had a look around and afterwards, when talking to Tav, they realised that in the dry conditions they'd passed the previous upstream limit. A return trip pushed further and added another 30m finding a draughting potential connection up to the surface(?), a lower draughting, but too tight, crawl and a sump that appeared diveable. Most of the extension would be submerged in more normal water conditions.

New site - Tav found a tiny hole with a strong draught about 40m down from Earthquake Sink. The top was opened up and it appears that 2m of digging could enter a caver-sized passage. If this is the same as that glimpsed in Earthquake Sink before it collapsed, then there is potentially 200m+ of cave waiting to be found. The hole was covered and left for later. Permission will be needed before any digging is contemplated.

Newish Site - Ivan met John Gorman who looks after Glenbain Cottage for the owner. John led Ivan to where he'd seen a very strong resurgence below the track just past the cottage. There were two large holes, obvious flood risings, undermining the bank of a dry streambed below an old rubbish tip. This is adjacent to the depression where Mark Campbell and Chris Warwick were digging some years ago. No bedrock is visible so it is not an easy project and permission would be required. Tav has visited it several times and thinks it may be related to Glenbain Hole.

Lawfield Mine

Back in 2009 Alex Latta found what appeared to be a blocked mine entrance in the sea cliffs north of Cockburnspath, East Lothian (NT 75923 73385). He returned this June during a fishing trip to find the sea had now opened it up and it was possible to crawl into an old mine. A return trip with lights and Bob Sommerville explored 40m of passage to a junction. Further trips with Carol Dickson, a SCRO gas detector, and Mark Stanford then Goon measured the left branch as 71.5m to a dead end. The right branch was 54 m to a water-filled shaft down to a lower level. The tunnels are part-filled with about a metre of soft, and in some places almost liquid, muddy sediments. Digging at the entrance revealed the true passage height as 2m and found a drainage channel leading off down the beach. Derek Pettiglio on a solo visit GPS'd it at NT 75923 73385.

Later work spotted a resurgence about 45m south of the mine. Digging by Mark, Alex, Bob and Carol plus some of Mark's mates uncovered another mine entrance. As digging lowered the beach and the water level at the outflow, the level in the shaft at the end of the mine also dropped though, it seems, not by as much. Return trips by Mark and mates found a deep drainage channel running southwards under the cliff face and under the diggers' spoil heap! This has now been partly cleared though the sea tries to refill it with the beach between digging trips.

Alex has failed to find any mention of the mine in accessible archives. In appearance it is very similar to 17th century coal workings at Cove not far to the south. Most interesting was a reference to a tunnel being driven for coal from Dunglass Dean about 1 mile to the south as far as Lawfield farm. It is probable that this was continued out to the beach to provide an easier route for exporting the coal. There are remains of masonry on the shore and the 1857 six inch OS map has 'Old Walls' marked not far south of there. This implies that the mine had been abandoned for long enough for the surface workings to be obliterated. Both the Old and the New Statistical Account of Scotland mention coal mining as something that had ceased in the early 1700's.

  • Loch Katrine - Alex spent one day in late February searching for Goblin's Cave (see GSG Bull 2nd series vol 2 no 4 April 1979). He thinks he located it but also found another area with numerous boulder caves at Bealach nam Bo. A return trip with Carol Dickson investigated many of them with one of them providing a through trip and a 6 x 7m chamber under an enormous slab - much larger than the approx 4 x 1m Goblin's Cave.
  • Founder's Day - This was timed one week before the Jubilee Dinner and attendance therefore suffered. Just three members (Goon, Julie Hesketh and Martin Hayes) descended a dry Sell Gill Holes on rope ladder and took some pleasure in overtaking the SRT parties on the pitches back to the surface.
  • Oban - while on holiday with his daughter, Alex found what appear to be old mine workings with stacked 'deads' in front of the two entrances. They are about 4x3m and 2x2m and both have been filled almost to the roof. It is possible to see space beyond. Alex asks "I cannot find any record of these in the Bibliography of Scottish mines on the Internet, does anyone have any previous knowledge?" The mine is at approx NM 848286 in the Ardbhan Craigs.


In November last year while ascending Chest Pot in Uamh an Claig-ionn Mark Lonnen's hand-crafted battery pack detached from his helmet and was lost in the pool at the bottom of the pitch (GSG NL 144 p8) He was back there again in early July and was delighted to find it. In his words "It was sitting next to the pool at the bottom of the pitch and is largely undamaged, there's even some charge left in the batteries! It needs a new cable and plug but was dry inside. The anodising has been worn away in one spot by stones rattling against it, an indication of what the conditions must have been like down there."

Mendip Update

GSG members are involved with Caine Hill, the ERIC depression, White Pit and Home Close. Caine Hill is progressing quicker than 2010 at the two separate dig faces. The End of Dig is following down dip, the "end chamber" size enlarged to facilitate digging now has two ways on, both in tubes one horizontal and one vertical. We will concentrate on the vertical one, more holes soon to be drilled for Dr Nobel. The Rift, likewise needs more holes please as the tube here is getting annoying as it won't naturally get bigger!

The Eric depression after reaching -3m or more is in the process of being stabilised. The hope here is that any way on will be found deeper down in the shaft that is being engineered, and not missed because it is behind one of the walls!

Home Close continues to receive TLC; again cement is the key factor. The first set of stabilising rings under the 10m of pipes has been completed. A small draught continues to annoy in a fairly unstable "way on", but it is always better to be safe than sorry.

White pit is progressing at much the same speed as Caine Hill did two years ago, nothing happens quickly on Mendip!

Around last Christmas a visit to Spider Hole in Cheddar Gorge turned out to be just that...It was a Wednesday and no one turned up to dig. Had a good look, was impressed, took out the usual rock to help the diggers and guess's now gone big time - apparently a large impressive rift similar to Reservoir Hole. Digging, of course, continues. Currently 95m long and 56m deep.

Stuart Lindsay

Surveying with Sound!

Throw away your compass, clino and tape measure. Move over DistoX. A new method of mapping a cave has been developed. You don't even have to enter it! What more could a cave surveyor dream of? The method is being developed by David Bowen of Acentech, a firm of acoustical, audiovisual and noise & vibration consultants of Cambridge, Massachusetts. It uses two microphones placed at the entrance of the tunnel or cave, lots of laptop computing, and a broad spectrum percussive noise generator: also known as a gun. Fire the gun several times at intervals and record the echoes from the cave. Once they are analysed by the laptop a map is drawn with predictions of the area of the passage at different distances. Simple. You just need a laptop and a gun licence.

Development of a portable system for acoustical reconstruction of tunneland cave geometries. Presented at the 161st meeting of the Acoustical Society of America in May 2011.

Collapse in Nine Lums Mine?

Goon had been exchanging emails with someone interested in the mines in Fife and received the following warning - "I went to Ninelums mine yesterday and I heard a tunnel collapse from the entrance, it sounded quite large. I think it should be avoided." We can't confirm that report, but do beware if you venture there.

2011 Meets and Events

See the events page for details.

If there is a particular cave you'd like to visit please let Ross know - preferably with one or two dates when you might be able to make it.

Ross Davidson

Membership News

  • Judith Hill - has been caving with our more northern members in Assynt and spent six hours in ANUSC which more than qualifies her to join the GSG. She has volunteered to help on the Rana bike so now that is gone we'll have to introduce her to Campbell Counterweighting instead! .
  • Matt and Mandy Voysey - have both been caving for over eight years with lots of digging and active caving experience. They've been on several Mendip Migrations and contributed to the digging and the discoveries as already reported in this Newsletter.

New Members

Judith Hill, Mandy & Matt Voysey

New Addresses

George Antill, Murdoch McLeod

Other Changes

Ross Davidson, Tel work; John Glover, email; Iain Greig, email; Derrick Guy, email; Alex Scott, email; Fraser Simpson, email; Kate & Fraser Stephens, email; Jackie Sutherland, email; Jamie (Boab) Yuill, email

  • Kate and Fraser Stephens - The wedding of the year was in S Wales on Saturday 2nd July when Kate and Fraser married during an event-filled weekend. To quote from Kate's email:- "As you've probably gathered I'm now Mrs Stephens! We had a lovely wedding on 2nd July with several GSG members coming along for the weekend. We had pies from Lochinver and lardy breakfasts skilfully cooked by Julian & Carol and Simon & Shary (only the offal was missing). Great sing-song until 3am with music by Roger, Annie & Mark Lonnen among others. There were caving trips on the Sunday in Craig a Ffynnon and down the Clydach Gorge including Shakespeare's cave and about 120 people made it up the Sugarloaf for the whisky toast: (see more photos and movies at &

    Sorry we couldn't make it up for the GSG celebrations. I know the timing wasn't ideal. Hope you had fun! Kate x PS:- Hidden Earth is in Monmouth this year, about 20 mins drive from us (23-25th September). Any GSG people who would like to come and stay at our house are welcome. We have a couple of spare rooms and camping space in the garden. We're planning to go to Hidden Earth on the Saturday, but might do something else on the Sunday. I'll try and get a few days off work so could be up for some caving either side of the weekend.

  • Colin Coventry - was recently interviewed for a short article in the Northern Times (Want to see Smoo? We'll send you to Coventry! - 15/7/11). He wishes it be known that "I have been busy doing a bit of archaeological work in the Bone Caves" is a mis-quote and Historic Scotland and SNH do not need to chase him. A similar mistake was made by the Inverness Courier (15/7/11) whose interview of Peter Dowswell again had the bear bones being recovered from the Bone Caves instead of Claonaite.

SRT Training

Becki Carter is organising SRT training in the trees at Newton Cottage, Milnathort from 3pm Saturday 10th September. The training will feature two rigged trees, one for complete beginners and the other more advanced for folks who are flummoxed by things like rebelays and traverses. Spare SRT kits will be available. The BBQ will be fired up, so bring along food for grilling! Contact Becki for details <rebecca.c.carter @> and many thanks to Jackie Sutherland for hosting the event.

Elphin Caving Centre

If you want to stay in the hut please contact the Hut Warden - Peter Dowswell - to check if there will be space.

Hut News

There have been a lot of visitors at the hut over the spring and early summer. There have been one or two issues which have arisen from this which may not have been entirely clear to everyone.

Visitors from other Clubs:

If other clubs have booked places at the hut then their bookings must be honoured and bunks provided for them. A minimum of five places (usually eight) are reserved for club members so there should always be a few bunks available for club members. You are strongly advised to check the Hut Bookings list in the newsletter or with me to see if the hut is going to be busy.

Please note that the dates in the booking list above are the nights booked. This means that the date of departure is the day after the last night booked.

Some visiting clubs have thought they had exclusive use of the hut and this has occasionally led to heated debate. They do not have exclusive use and their booking confirmation clearly states this. If you get into this situation and are having difficulty resolving it, then ask them to ring me.

Recycling Bins:

There seems to be a marked reluctance on the part of most people to empty them. Please take your recycle stuff to the local recycle point in Ullapool or other appropriate place when your stay ends.


Please note that on no account should the gas be shut off at the gas tank. This results in the gas shutting off completely as there is a low pressure valve that will operate automatically. It is not an easy job to reset it. Turn the gas off at the isolating valve on the back wall of the hut. The valve on top of the tank is normally inaccessible, but Calor have been known not to replace the padlock.

The new range cooker and hob have been installed and are working well. They are fairly robust and should last for a long time. Please look after them.

Grass Cutting:

If you have some spare time and the weather is OK then please cut the grass. The mower is located in the shed and there is usually a good supply of petrol. It starts pretty easily and if the grass is cut regularly it's a fairly easy task.

Peter Dowswell

Internet Caving

Carlsbad Cavern is replacing its present mix of incandescent, mercury vapour and fluorescent lighting with LEDs. This will allow the light wavelength to be selected to those that won't encourage algae - a problem all show caves share. One 'room' has already been converted and before and after photographs can be seen at:

The Cretan Labyrinth Cave

An Egyptology colleague of mine drew my attention to a site on Crete which he visited earlier this year. Famed locally as being a contender for the labyrinth of the minotaur, any quick glance at the website photographs will reveal to GSG members that this is quite obviously a limestone mine, probably of much later date than Minoan archaeologists would have us believe! It transpires that there is evidence for a primitive cave/mine to have been in existence in the 15th Century but if so, it has been extensively quarried since. During WW2 the Germans stored ordnance in it and several chambers are liberally cluttered with live ammunition. The website, being German, shows a breathtaking thoroughness in recording almost every lump of rock to be found in the mine, but I doubt whether it will catch on as a tourist attraction.


Assynt News

  • Inverkirkaig Fire - The excellent dry weather leading up to and through the Mendip Migration resulted in several forest fires along the west coast. On on night of 2nd May Tony Boycott reported the gorse was ablaze from Inverkirkaig to the slopes of Cul Mor. Inverkirkaig village was almost evacuated, but the fire stopped at the river. The road was closed for much of the day but Tony negotiated it in the afternoon while fires still raged half-way up Cul Mor. Most of it was out by the 4th.

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