GSG Newsletter 123
28 July 2005
GSG Annual Dinner 2005
This year's Annual Dinner will be held in the Wheatsheaf Inn,
Ingleton on Saturday 29th October. As usual this is as Summer Time ends
giving all an extra hour of recovery time on the Sunday morning. We will
have exclusive use of the conservatory for our meal (L15), but as it
holds a maximum of 39 only the first 39 members who confirm their
booking with a cheque will be guaranteed a seat there. Any overflow can
be accommodated nearby in the dining room. A booking form is enclosed
and an early reply with payment is needed to guarantee your place in the
conservatory. There is a children's menu. Ask me if you want one.
The Wheatsheaf has nine rooms at L32 per person per night for the
double/twin rooms or L45 for single occupancy. If you want to stay there
contact them directly at:-
The Wheatsheaf Inn, 22 High Street, Ingleton, Carnforth LA6 3AD.
Tel: 01524 241275 Email: info @ wheatsheaf-ingleton.co.uk
Other accommodation is available at the various caving huts in the
vicinity, at the campsite or further afield at Dalesbridge and Helwith
Bridge. I expect we'll be circulating more details later this summer.
Your Meets Secretary, Fiona Ware, is already booking Notts II for the
dinner weekend, and is ready to book more caves if you ask her nicely.
We'll let you know what is planned once some plans have actually been
GSG members who pay their BCA dues through the GSG and haven't
already received their 2005 BCA membership card from me should find it
enclosed with this Newsletter. It should have the same membership number
as last year and it will expire at the end of December. If this year's
policy is repeated in 2006 there will then be a month's grace for you to
pay your combined GSG and BCA subscription and for the GSG to forward it
to the BCA if your insurance cover is not to lapse.
The GSG as a member of BCA receives one set of BCA periodicals and
can vote at General Meetings. If you are a BCA member through the GSG
you are covered by the BCA's public liability insurance policy and are
entitled to vote at BCA General Meetings, but receive no periodicals.
The GSG is also a member of BCRA and, as you'll read in Trevor's
report overleaf, the only route to BCRA membership is now through the
BCA. If you want to be a BCRA member then you should become a direct
individual member (DIM) of BCA and pay an extra L10 to join the BCRA.
For caving level insurance that is a total of L43. This compares with
last year when joining the BCA through the GSG was L18 and joining the
BCRA separately cost L25 for the same total of L43: if you join the BCA
as a DIM you no longer pay anything to the GSG for BCA. Application
forms for membership can be found on the
BCA web site
Since being appointed as the GSG Club representative on BCRA Council
in November 2004, I have attended the BCRA SGM on 26 February 2005 at
Monyash, BCRA Council meetings on 27 February and 26 June at Great
Hucklow, and in addition, the BCA AGM on 12 March at Alvechurch. The
BCRA SGM meeting was inquorate, but had some useful discussions that are
minuted in draft form in the latest BCRA Newsletter, no. 5, which also
contains useful information about BCRA and BCA. The most important
recommendations from this meeting were that UK membership of BCRA should
be restricted to members of BCA, and that the administration of BCRA and
BCA membership subscriptions should be integrated. In fact, this
integration was achieved at the start of the year, and the delay this
caused in sending out membership cards is being addressed.
The BCA AGM was preceded by the last NCA AGM (at which I was only an
observer) and was succeeded after my departure by an NCA SGM which saw
the winding up of NCA and the transfer of its functions to BCA. The BCA
AGM mainly covered the topics usually dealt with by NCA, and the NCA
committee structure is retained. There was also quite a lot of debate
about the Direct Individual Member (DIM) and Club Individual Member
(CIM) classes of BCA membership, which was left to BCA Council to
resolve. The key points are that DIMs and CIMs are all full members of
BCA with the right to vote at general meetings, but it is still unclear
if Clubs can decline to accept the BCA member benefit of Public
Liability insurance for their CIMs (and therefore pay less) if they
choose to purchase this insurance elsewhere. (This issue may now have
been resolved by BCA Council). There was little or no discussion about
BCRA or its future role within BCA at this meeting.
The two BCRA Council meetings considered the practicalities of the
transfer of some functions to BCA. These include the full transfer of
Travel and PL insurance (which is now complete, leaving BCRA very
healthy financially) and BCA Newsletters, Speleology and the Hidden
Earth conference, which will retain joint sponsorship for at least a
transitional period. We also worked on the "problem" created by BCRA's
inheritance of large amounts of speleological archive materials located
outside the library, and made progress on the future role of BCRA in
promoting cave science, as should become clearer at the next Hidden
Earth. I have not seen any topics arising that would be a particular
concern for Scotland or GSG, but if any members would like me to raise
an issue, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
One problem that I wanted to see sorted out concerned the possible
membership of BCA CIMs within BCRA. The answer is that CIMs who wish to
become (or remain) members of BCRA can do this by upgrading to BCA DIMs
and applying for (or renewing) BCRA membership, and the BCRA Newsletter
no. 5 has been amended on the BCRA website with this clarification.
Because such a resolution is likely to be passed at the BCRA AGM on 24
September 2005, renewal of UK "BCRA only" membership after that date
will not be possible. I therefore urge all present members of BCRA and
all those interested in the support of cave research in its widest sense
to join BCRA via the BCA DIM route at the appropriate opportunity.
You can read BCRA Newsletter 5
Hydro-fun in the Fannichs
Whilst walking in the Fannichs, Pete Ponter and I recently gained
access to the large concrete pipe that brings water down from the Allt
a'Mhadaidh to Loch Droma. We did a small through trip and thought that
it definitely has potential for more. Water levels were very low, only
about 2" of water flowing, but with a little more I suspect that you
could speed down it on a mat. There don't seem to be too many potential
hazards, the corners and gradient being relatively gradual.
Alternatively if you had a low trolley I suspect you could trolley down
it. As far as I could see the chances of sudden changes in water levels
is fairly unlikely due to the control structures that are in place.
Diameter of pipe is probably about 5 feet.
- Storm Cave - There have been many visits here including one where Dan
Harries attempted to dive the downstream sump. After descending a mud
floored tube progress was soon halted by the abysmal visibility. The
sump level is very sensitive to flow rate and it will be interesting to
see just how low it will fall during a real drought. Peter Dowswell and
Andy Peggie surveyed most of the cave in April, except for the passage
to the upstream sump.
- Cnoc nan Uamh System - Several members stayed on in Assynt after the
midsummer BBQ in late June to help lead groups of pupils from
Kinlochbervie and Ullapool High Schools through the cave. On each of the
three days about seven pupils plus teacher were escorted to the worm
sump and back out again with the option of returning via the Rabbit
Warren. All claimed to enjoy the experience though what their parents
said when they saw the state of their clothes might be another matter.
- Rana Hole - This hasn't seen too many visits lately: something to do
with the lack of the usual Mendip diggers in May and J.Rat's broken leg.
Nick Williams and friends (Foz and Ed) did haul out the pile of 99
filled sandbags waiting at the foot of the entrance pitch in early May.
Since then another digging trip has restocked the pile. At present we've
stopped trying to follow the water where it flowed into the narrowing
rift and have reverted to digging out the floor under the BBC ladder.
With another metre or more of depth added the last rung is now well
above the descending floor and a longer ladder or an extension is
needed. Much deeper and we'll need to start lifelining that pitch as
- Calcite Cave - Nick, Foz and Ed spent some time digging here in May
and think it has potential, It draughts and water sinks in it without
any sign of backing up. Whether it is the Calcite described in Caves of
Assynt is open to question. Nick says that it doesn't match the
description or survey.
- Traligill in Drought - during the very dry period of a couple of years
ago, Chris Warwick reports that he managed to partially pass the
downstream sump in Cnockers, and if he'd know Northern Lights was there
would have pushed further. This was when Traligill Rising and the pool
below it were completely dry. He also went upstream in the Traligill
Rising until progress was no longer possible because of obstructions. He
therefore appears to have passed the dive limit, and the hope that it
would link to downstream Disappointment Cave is going to be just that -
So next time there is a drought and you are in Assynt it is worth
looking at all the sumps along the Traligill from Storm Cave to Cnockers
to Lower Traligill to Disappointment to Traligill Rising. You might just
walk through a sump and it certainly beats lugging the lead and diving
gear to the cave.
David Morrison and Richard Simpson have been busy discovering more
caves, so Martin Hayes, John Crae and Ivan joined them in late May for a
conducted tour. We started with Cave of the Kings - a fine passage that
ends in silt choked sumps - and contoured round the hill to Glasnock
Cave and several short caves near it (Wee Beastie, Triangle and Choked
Caves). From there more traversing led to several dig sites that need
more investigation. John got almost his entire body into Dig 1, but
couldn't see anything but boulders blocking the way on. Dig 2 and Dig 3
both have narrow openings down to what seems to be the same stream. The
first looks the easier dig as Dig 3 is a hole through solid bedrock.
Gravel Coffin Cave is a low wide chamber with what appears to a gravel
roof. Not the most confidence inspiring sight!
The final series of discoveries all lie on or near the same stream
about 4km from the main road. We started at the top when Richard
introduced Martin to Aten's Chamber. Not the largest of entrances as
Martin had to reverse out after passing his helmet and lamp through. A
large flake just inside blocks a descending passage. This is the upper
limit of the next cavity - Heretic's Cave. After David, Richard and
Martin slid into the lower entrance I had to dig another couple of
inches out to get myself inside. The low crawl soon heightened into a
fine narrow vadose canyon. I caught the others up at what they've named
Levitation Squeeze. There the canyon narrows and the way on, if you are
thin and fit, is a slight widening about a metre and a half from the
floor. Martin had already tried and failed so I didn't even attempt it.
Evidently the best bit of the cave lies just beyond the squeeze!
Back on the surface we continued downhill to where the whole stream
flows through the short Triple Arch Cave. About 140m later we met the
small stream from Slab Resurgence. This would need a lot of work to
enter and should first be checked that it isn't an oxbow to the main
stream. There is a blind pot not far uphill from it. The last cave we
all entered was Cave of Queens: another fine section of passage that
narrows and lowers to a wet crawl that might be pushed further in really
David and Richard are busy writing an article for the GSG Bulletin on
their discoveries. In the meantime if you'd like to explore I've listed
all the NGRs. If you do plan to go, contact David or Richard first for
the latest information.
|NG 85318 44064||c110m||Resurgence for Kings|
|NG 85446 43755||161m||Cave of the Kings|
|NG 86202 44195||246m||Wee Beastie Cave|
|NG 86182 44175||240m||Glasnock Cave|
|NG 86178 44154||245m||Triangle and Choked Caves|
|NG 88258 45055||328m||Slab Resurgence Pot|
|NG 87831 44950||324m||Dig 1|
|NG 87850 44946||325m||Dig 2|
|NG 87846 44972||322m||Dig 3|
|NG 88274 45176||291m||Queens resurgence|
|NG 87988 45004||325m||Gravel Coffin Cave|
|NG 88235 44873||363m||Aten's Chamber|
|NG 88236 44900||350m||Heretic's Cave|
|NG 88245 44933||350m||Triple Arch Cave|
|NG 88244 45069||320m||Slab Resurgence|
|NG 88264 45144||300m||Cave of Queens|
|NG 88274 45176||291m||Queens resurgence|
Not content with their discoveries in Kishorn, David and Richard have
been busy in Skye. In April they explored Meekons Cave (NG 666 194).
This is in Jurassic limestone east of the road to Heaste and in dry
weather offers about 50m of low passage ending in a sump. Another site
nearby ends in a good sized sump. So there are two more possibilities
for our diving members.
North of Broadford they dug out another 2m of passage in Scapula Cave
to gain a small 1.5 x 1 x 0.6m terminal chamber. About 100m south of
Boundary Sink they dug into a 22m through trip - Condyle Cave. David
clobbered his elbow on the day they found it! He reports that it has a
'reasonable' squeeze. Fifteen metres south is Upper Condyle Cave. This
has 5.5m of passage with another 3m visible but too tight to enter. The
squeeze in Shelter cave has been passed by a high level route found by
Ritchie. Unfortunately it only extends the cave by 3 or 4m to a dead
The Mendip trip to Skye was based in the Torrin Centre which turned
into the local polling centre for the day of the general election. Peter
"The Torrin Centre was used as a polling station which meant we had
to vacate the living area from 7am to 10 pm. This meant tea and toast in
the hallway. Guess who managed to set off the fire alarm at 8 am! It's
so sensitive even lightly browned toast triggers it. After several
seconds of brain freeze I managed to stop it and then later reset it.
The polling station officers didn't bat an eyelid.
"Tav elected to go cave prospecting just outside Heast to the north
and south of the road, south of Beinn nan Carn. We split up and Derrick
and I got to just below the summit ridge finding several lines of
shakeholes plus limestone pavement at the highest point. The problem is
that the limestone seems to be sandwiched between layers of other rock
although I suppose anything is possible. he bedding seems to be
horizontal. The cave we found was quite odd being in the wall of a
narrow mini gorge in the limestone. Trevor Knief looked at it and found
it to be about 5 metres long. Walk in entrance.
"I have kept GPS coordinates of significant shakeholes plus photos of
many of them and a CD is now in the GSG library. If you go there take a
crowbar and other digging implements!"
In May the SCRO held a practice in Cave of Broken Expectations. Peter
Dennis was wrapped in a stretcher and carried out from the end, down to
the stream and up the hillside to the car park. Afterwards most of us
indulged in a descent of Claig-ionn. What was interesting was that the
last to start walking to the cave arrived first! More familiarisation
trips are obviously needed by our newer members. The next day digging in
Albion Pot reached an impasse. Poised boulders need some stabilisation
before onwards progress can continue. The sink above the end of Draught
Caledonian was deepened, but a dye test proved that the stream dribbles
out of the roof of Terminal Chamber. We had hoped it would enter a
hypothesized upstream continuation. The dig has been 'capped' with old
fence posts and rocks while we decide if it is worth continuing.
Trips have included, Jingling Pot and Cave, Aquamole Pot, Simpsons
Pot and Caves, Rowten Cave, Yordas cave, Manchester Hole, Goyden Pot,
Bar Pot, Ireby Fell Cavern, Ease Gill Caverns, Illusion Pot, Sell Gill
Holes and a fine day's SRT training on the Inglesport Climbing Wall. We
had exclusive use of the highest tower section of the wall and with
Chris Chapman and Mark Brown instructing everyone without leaps and
bounds. Meanwhile the 'A' team rigged Sell Gill Holes for all to descend
the wet and ascend the dry way on the Sunday. Afterwards as we drove
home thunder could be heard in the distance and the North York Moors
suffered from flash floods. We also got severely rained upon as we
passed the Lake District. Just as well the downpours hadn't happened
earlier over Pen-y-ghent.
Vale: Mike "Quackers" Duck
Monday lunchtime in the Hunters' will never be quite the same again.
The miserable old git struggling with the Daily Mail crossword has gone.
No longer, on a chilly Mendip evening, will the bar ring to the cry of
"Shut the fucking door, pratt!" and Assynt is short of one crustacean
murderer for every May to eternity.
Many GSG members will have come across Quackers on their travels and,
after the initial shock, found him to be a great character. Like your
scribe and the late Martin Bishop he was born in 1949 and became a
permanent fixture on the Mendip caving scene. He was a competent caver,
cave diver, sea diver and excellent climber when the mood took him. He
caved with the Westminster S.G., Wessex C.C., Pegasus Club and B.E.C.
over the years and in 1986 was dive controller on the Lost Cave of
Cheddar project - receiving the dubious honour of getting three 90ft
deep sump pools named after him - The Duck Ponds. At Hunters' Lodge Inn
Sink, and many other sites dug by the B.E.C., he volunteered as dig
engineer and did a sterling job (though his mates soon learnt not to let
him "engineer" their vehicles!).
His lifestyle was not the norm and his long-term residence in a
yellow ex-GPO van behind the Shepton hut was only slightly more up
market than his years dwelling in a tent near the Belfry. I wonder what
happened to his collection of anatomical videos?
Quack died of heart problems (whilst worrying about cancer!) on April
9th and a great throng turned up for his funeral and wake. Just to wind
up his unearthly spirit Snab composed a farewell song which Roger Dors
insisted he sing in the front bar - an unheard of honour. An encore was
immediately requested and there were no cries of "They words" from mine
host and hostess, in fact I think they joined in. Sung to the tune of
"Clip go the Shears Boys" you can also join in and drink to the memory
of our mate Quackers (and his amazing lingering farts).
There's a bloke that isn't here tonight, they call him Michael Duck.
He doesn't like my singing, but I couldn't give a fuck.
He sometimes used to fix my car with a spanner and a wrench
Or a hammer through the windscreen if the car was French.
Fill the tankards, Landlord, serve us up some beer.
We're going to have a few tonight, though Quackers isn't here.
Where he is no body knows but we think we know the score -
he's standing by a great big fire saying "Shut the fucking door!"
The atmosphere round Mendip, it surely must improve.
There's no chance of global warming with less methane on the move.
I've always had a theory that the way a new world starts
Is spontaneous combustion with one of Quackers' farts!
Maybe with this song of mine you'll think that I'm unkind,
just complaining of his swearing or of his foul behind,
but really I'm just thinking back before his dreadful fate
and I'm going to miss his smelly arse 'cause Quackers was a mate.
There was diving, there was caving, there was looking after dogs.
There was farting, there was drinking or just shielding burning logs.
In whatever way you knew him you can hear the bugger now,
He'll be standing somewhere by the fire saying "Stop that fucking row!"
Progress at High Pasture Cave
The archaeological investigation of this cave now has its own web
site at http://www.high-pasture-cave.org/. Steve Birch posts regular
progress reports liberally illustrated with photos of the excavations
and of the objects being uncovered. The original intent was to open up
the pre-historic entrance into Bone Passage, but that isn't going to
happen this year. They have dug down 3m to large granite slabs that were
probably the roof of an entrance passage. However the passage underneath
appears to have been deliberately filled to the roof. This backfilling
has also been found at various Iron Age sites such as souterrains. The
roof slabs are overlain by a complex stratigraphy including smeared out
layers of clay and several superimposed hearths. This shows that the
former natural entrance depression - which incidentally appears much
larger than first thought - wasn't filled in a single operation, but has
its own complex history.
Hundreds of tons of rock and soil have been moved around to create
the present topography and many of them are going to have to be moved
again next year to reveal the way into Bone Passage. This year's
activities are now concentrated on completing other work around the main
excavation and then protecting it from the weather. The new site hut
should arrive soon and then lighting and CCTV will be installed via the
existing entrance before open days planned for the autumn.
Forthcoming Meets and Events
See the GSG events page for details.
Please send your requests and suggestions for other meets to me.
Request permits for caves for the Annual Dinner weekend NOW to get your
favourite on the list - I haven't received any suggestions yet and it's
first come, first served. I can be contacted at home on 0131 664 3253,
or at work on 0131 247 4345 and f.ware @ nms.ac.uk.
Fiona Ware - GSG Caving Secretary
With the tag-line 'Afraid of the dark? You will be...', the Descent
is a cheesetastic caving film. Think 'A Vertical Limit', but underground
with a caving party made up entirely of nubile young women. The six set
off into a cave system with what appears to be a strange choice of
equipment - how often have you been down a cave and wished you'd
remembered to pack that ice-axe? - but as a passage is blocked by
rockfall things start to go wrong. One of the party sustains an open
fracture to their leg (treated by the medical student in the party in a
slightly unorthodox fashion), and they soon realise that there is
something lurking down their dark 'unexplored' cave.... Sponsored by
Petzl (amazing how that logo repels mud, blood and guts) and
www.skimpyyetsurprisinglydurablecaving-clothing.com, this film is billed
as horror but in reality is a comedy. A must see for every caver.
Go to www.thedescentthemovie.co.uk/main/ for a short game where you
are trapped in the cave with limited lighting (a Zippo lighter!) and
have to find your way out. So far I've died horribly every time. For
information about the film the
a good start and has a large collection of viewer's reviews rating the
film from 1 out of 10 to 11 out of 10 with an average of 8. For those of
an analytic bent look at the comments in the
They are in the "Idle Chat" section under "another
caving film 'The Descent'" and a long post by Cap'n Chris on the third
page lists the more obvious caving and other mistakes.
A party of eight GSG members went to see it in Edinburgh and agreed
with Alison. We also noted that the list of credits included everyone
and everything except anyone remotely connected with caving. Guess we
shouldn't have been surprised. I did think the cave looked more
realistic than most Hollywood creations - though it must have been
centrally heated and the rubber straws did wobble.
There are places... Man was never meant to go. Beneath Heaven lies Hell Beneath Hell lies... THE CAVE
As Bob Jones wrote in an email "Why are caving films like buses? Wait
for ages then 2 come along together. If you haven't seen it already,
look at TheCave.
One to worry the cave divers."
The web site has a short trailer for the film which is being released
on August 26th. There is also a game where you attempt to escape from
the cave by appropriate use of all the usual caving aids - torch, rope,
harness, ascender, rebreather, dynamite and a revolver. Like the game
for The Descent there are limited instructions and finding out how to
move about the cave is a large part of the test. Will I go and see it?
Possibly. After all in the trailer one of the characters is distinctly
heard to say "I hate ladders!" so perhaps this film did have a (modern)
BCRC Conference 2005
Four SCRO/GSG members flew down for a long weekend in Mendip to
attend the British Cave Rescue Council Conference. This was based in a
large marquee on a field at Eastwater farm. The return trip with EasyJet
- down Thursday evening, back Monday morning - cost L36. Excellent
On Friday, Peter Dennis and Dave Warren enjoyed Hunters Lodge Inn
Sink and then Primrose Pot while Goon and I enjoyed the Butcombe in the
Hunters. The conference was opened on Friday evening by the local
Conservative MEP followed closely by the keynote speaker - half an hour
of vintage Goon in his best inimitable form. It was all recorded by the
GSG camcorder, a tape is in the library, and now Fraser has returned
from South America I'll see if it can be edited onto a DVD.
On Saturday we all distributed ourselves amongst the various
activities. I joined the Explosive Users Group in a local quarry to
watch the different techniques for turning large boulders into a
collection of smaller boulders. Very informative and thanks to Nigel
Taylor for selling me some small pyrotechnics that should help us in
Rana. Luckily Roger had driven down for the conference as I don't think
I'd have been able to take them back on the plane!
The final 'caving' event on Saturday was a rescue race. This involved
five of a team of six running an obstacle course built around the
Eastwater entrance depression, collecting a carry sheet and rope en
route, and using them to parcel up their sixth member who then had to
carried back along the course and fed through the obstacles. Because of
a lack of SCRO members we joined forces with SUSS to field a combined
team comprising Peter Dennis, David Warren, Roger Galloway (SCRO) plus
Mark Brown, Annie Audsley and friend Alice (SUSS).
There were three heats and we ran first against the Wessex ladies
team. We romped it and lay back to enjoy the other two heats, one of
which afforded extra entertainment with a wrestling match in the stream.
In the final the three winning teams ran against each other with a
slight difference. This time all six members had to complete the course
without a casualty which is different to saying that there were no
casualties! Again we emerged victorious though extremely smelly which
may have had something to do with the herd of cows just upstream of the
event. The winners were presented with a BCRC 2005 T-shirt each.
The GSG camcorder was used to record the highlights of the heats and
the final, and they are on the tape in the club library. We may show it
at the Annual Dinner in October.
Saturday evening ended with the Stomp and a determined attempt to
drink the bar dry and chomp our way through two roast pigs. It was
noted that as the evening progressed J.Rat joined in the dancing and
threw away his walking stick.
Sunday was a quieter day with several of the scheduled talks possibly
washed away by the alcoholic haze. A fire engine arrived and chomped
scaffolding bars and the conference gradually stuttered to a close.
Peter and Goon then went for a quick thrash through GB Cavern. Pete
commented that it was his fastest ever trip in GB and Goon commented on
the aroma possibly emanating from Peter's caving gear.
In conclusion an excellent and very sociable weekend, though I think
I had the best of the Saturday activities. The next visit to Mendip is
likely to be for the BCRA Conference in September. Remember to book
early to get the best prices if you plan to fly.
Elphin Caving Centre
Plenty of visitors have kept the hut fees rolling in this year and
we've invested in new trays and grids for the BBQ to replace those that
have now rusted away. Please clean them after use and store them in the
shed. Julian is about to replace the old mouldy pillows. We'll probably
fit pillow cases to them, but you should bring and fit your own over the
Confirmed Taigh nam Famh Bookings
Hut fees are L5.00 per night for non-members and L2.50 for GSG and BEC
members. Reduced to L3.00 and L2.00 for children, students, the
unemployed and OAPs. Camping is at a reduced rate of L2.00 only when the
hut is full. Day fees are L1.00 for members and L2.00 for non-members.
If you want to stay in the hut please contact the Hut Warden - Peter
Dowswell as soon as possible to check if there will be space (Tel:-
01456 229250, hutbookings @ gsg.org.uk).
Prolonged pleas from an ageing Walford led him to take the GSG cheque
book into his own hands and buy fan heaters for the showers. They will
be fitted before the winter snows appear. Note that adding these does
strain our supply up to or beyond its 8kW specification even after
generous diversity calculations have been applied. There isn't any
danger of tripping one of the breakers or of blowing the main fuse, but
I'll need to monitor the supply voltage to check that it doesn't drop
too far with everything turned on.
The latest wall decoration in the conservatory has been donated by
Fraser Simpson. Presented with it in Meghalaya he could think of no
better place to install it than the hut.
I've noticed several items over the last year or two that have needed
repair or adjustment - door latches, bolts, handles, showers et cetera.
When you see anything that needs attention please tell Peter and me so
we can fix it at the first opportunity. We might not notice it
ourselves, and then when we do we might not have the right materials to
fix it, but have to wait for our next visit. Help us keep the hut in
good order by telling us promptly about all breakages.
Scottish Smoking Ban
The bill to ban smoking in enclosed public places has now been passed
by the Scottish Parliament and becomes law on 26 March 2006. Unless
changes are made it will definitely apply to Taigh nam Famh, and to
comply with the law we'll have to ban smoking inside, stick "No Smoking"
notices all over the place, develop and implement smoke-free policies,
and remove all ashtrays from the building! I suspect we are collectively
likely to become criminals as I don't see how a self-catering bothy can
be treated in the same way as a city centre bar. Perhaps we'll be forced
to have automatic smoke detectors and CCTV connected to Lochinver police
station? And if we arrive there and find a fag end inside will we have
to report a possible crime to the local constabulary? I suspect the
Nelson touch will be much used.
In fact this hurried and badly drafted piece of legislation appears
to have even more startling consequences. Because it applies to any
enclosed premises being used by a club, if the GSG holds a committee
meeting, an AGM or a party in a member's house, then that house falls
within the bill's grasp. I wonder if it applies to me now as I type this
Newsletter. After all I am using this room for the club's business Must
I install No Smoking notices and sling out all my ashtrays even if none
of them ever hold any ash?
Penalties are 200 pounds if we allow someone to smoke in the hut and 50
pounds for the person caught smoking. But if I catch you I can do you a special
I have sent several questions to the Scottish Executive so that they
can tell me if my analysis of the bill is correct. I'll let you know
their response in the next Newsletter, assuming they reply in time.
If you want more information you can read the bill at:-
For a list of questions and answers on the new law see:-
We have gained some more new and returning members:-
Iain Greig - is an Engineering turned Geology student at Aberdeen
University and the current Club Captain, Equipment Officer and Webmaster
of AUPCC He is currently in Durness helping Colin Coventry ferry
tourists around in Smoo Cave. He has a special interest in sea caves and
has recorded his work on the Arbroath caves on a
Ed Mason - started caving in his early teens using a pushbike to go to
Derbyshire. He joined the North Midlands Group of the B.S.A. in 1962 and
cut his caving teeth with the likes of P.B.Smith (Master Caver), Harold
Lord, Garry Kitchen, Ken Pearce etc. In 1968 he decided to earn a living
from his hobby and spent 7 years as a hard rock miner at Ladywash mine
in Eyam. He now runs his own radio, TV, & electronics business with time
spent designing and building caving gadgets. He has caved in
France(Berger) and Ukraine.
Mark Brown - is a lapsed rather than a new member and has rejoined after
a gap of two years. He is expert in rope access and helped instruct at
our recent SRT training weekend. He's caved in Meghalaya, joined us on
several Yorkshire meets and was part of the winning team in the 2005
BCRC Rescue Race.
Edwin [Ed] Mason,
Dan Harries &
Hiba Aboulhosn, Tel mobile.
Paul Archibald, Tel mobile.
John Heathcote, email.
George Kennedy, Tel mobile.
Dan Harries and Fiona Ware - have just bought a house in Gilmerton.
Fiona is delighted with the discovery of "a subterranean maze of
brickwork and rubble" under their floors entered through a cupboard in
the living room. Perhaps we'll see it on the next meets list.
A THANKYOU FROM THE LIBRARIAN
Through the medium of this newsletter I would like to express
publicly my sincere thanks to all those who over the years have donated
items for our library, whether it be foreign publications acquired on
holiday, historical items photo-copied from rare journals or simply new
work which I have not been aware of. This also applies to newspaper
items which, while they do not appear in library additions, are still
dutifully filed away. Invidious though it may be, I must single out
Milche in particular who scrupulously forwards copies of the most
obscure and informative historical material on a regular basis. Others
who deserve a mention are Jim Salvona and John Crae.
In the same vein, I have received several donations in response to my
call for archive photographs, in particular from former members Gordon
Henderson (Secretary in the 1960s), Sam Anderson (1963-4) and most
recently from Chic Calder (active in the 1970s and 80s) who supplied not
only 'historical' views of the old Knockan hut but 14 duplicate slides
of the Napier expedition to Sar-ab Cave in Iran as well. This is an
encouraging start but I trust the inward flow will continue before
enterprising mothers or wives consign to the dustbin apparently
worthless material which is of value to us. Of course current
photographs are also valuable, and CD collections have been generously
donated by Peter Glanvill, Ivan Young, Simon Brooks and Peter Ireson, to
name only a few.
We have a library of enviable size which is being used regularly by
researchers from outwith the club as well as by members and in trusting
that donations will continue to appear, could I urge that all abstracts
are properly identified with name of publication, volume or issue
number, date and page numbers (if appropriate).
40 Years of Growth!
The two pictures below show how useful a complete and accurately
described record can be. The left hand picture, taken by Sam Anderson,
is of a youthful Goon hauling tackle (or is he lifelining?) at Jingling
Pot in 1964. The right hand picture was taken 40 years later last
December as Roger Galloway is about to descend using SRT and not
ladders. The tree trunks are much larger as is that handy twig Goon
used to redirect the rope.
Emergency phone numbers (found on the web)
East Anglian Ambulance Service have launched a national "In Case of
Emergency (ICE)" campaign with the support of Falklands war hero Simon
Weston and in association with Vodafone's annual life savers award. The
idea is that you store the word "ICE" in your mobile phone address book,
and against it enter the number of the person you would want to be
contacted "In Case of Emergency". In an emergency situation ambulance
and hospital staff will then be able to quickly find out who your next
of kin are and be able to contact them. It's so simple that everyone can
do it. Please do. Please will you also forward this to everybody in your
address book, it won't take too many 'forwards' before everybody will
know about this. It really could save your life. For more than one
contact name use ICE1, ICE2, ICE3
Young Street has Changed Direction
Next time you come to the Cambridge Bar for Tuesday evening be
warned. One part of the master plan to remove all non-public transport
from Princes Street has been to reverse the flow in Young Street. It is
still one-way, but from west to east instead of east to west.
The GSG site maintained by Andrew Brooks is at:-
Other Scottish caving clubs:-
Aberdeen University Potholing and Caving Club
Glasgow University Potholing Association
The Visit Scotland web site includes caving and potholing in its list
of earth sports and a link to the GSG and BCA web sites. Two GSG members
- Dave Warren and Tim Lawson star in the photos
Gair Dunlop told me of a site where you can read and download the
complete text for many books.
fullbooks.com You won't find
anything recent as they have to be old enough to be out of copyright,
but Jules Verne, Dickens, Robert Louis Stevenson, and HG Wells are all
there. One of the very long list that might be of interest is
Castles and Cave Dwellings of Europe by Sabine Baring-Gould.
Chapter II (Modern Troglodytes) includes an account by Sir Arthur
Mitchell of four families totalling 24 people living in the 'great cave
at the south side of Wick Bay' in 1866. Caves of Scotland places the
cave at ND 370 500 but has no information about it. There are several
more references to Scotland in later chapters.
The site for High Pasture Cave
has already been mentioned, but there is an added attraction. There is a
virtual cave tour and you can (with a little bit of luck) make your way
all the way to the terminal chamber meeting some of your GSG friends en
- Nicky Brookes - We were all saddened to hear that Nicky died in a
boating accident in Tobaga in March. He and Lorraine had only moved
permanently last September to the beachfront home he'd built there. He
was a good friend to the GSG when were looking to buy a property in
Elphin and he was always ready to help when we started building. That
included getting his tractor bogged down to its axles on one occasion.
His drive and commitment to building up his business made the Elphin Tea
Room a success, but he hadn't been in the best of health and it is sad
that he didn't have the time to enjoy his retirement
The accident happened during an early morning fishing trip when his
22-foot pirogue overturned in choppy waters at Burial Ground off Battery
Point, Buccoo in West Tobago. His three friends were saved but he died.
A few weeks later Lorraine donated the pirogue to the Tobago House of
Assembly for use as a rescue vessel in the area. She christened it
Nickyman Rescue at the handing-over ceremony. She said that she had no
plans to return to Scotland.
- Buy a Bit of Borrolan - perhaps? - with a headline of 'Police Probe
Internet sales of remote Scottish land and lairdships' our old friends
Bruce and Alba Ward at the Alt Motel made the news in June. It seems the
Bournemouth based Regency Titles would sell you a square foot of Bruce's
land for 35 pounds and Bruce was more than a little annoyed. You can read his
It is said there is no such
thing as bad publicity especially if it is free, so perhaps the Alt
Motel will benefit.
- Community Buyout Succeeds - Assynt does it again!
With the help of our many friends Assynt foundation raised the L2.9
million needed to become custodians of the 44,400 acres Glencanisp and
Drumrunie estates from the Vestey family (just 24 hours before the legal
deadline!) bringing the land into community ownership on the 14th of
June - the first anniversary of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act! In doing
so we became the first community in Scotland to complete the right to
buy a large estate under the legislation. It was a long tortuous process
- I first picked up the phone to Community Land Unit on August 3rd last
year! But we had a huge amount of support to help us through the
process, breaking new ground at every step. Hopefully our ground
breaking effort will make it easier for other communities to follow.
Back in 1992 when I was playing a key role in the Assynt Crofters
Trust buy-out of the North Assynt estate I never dared even dream that I
would get a second chance. And certainly never that it would be Suilven
and the other iconic mountains of Scotland. But the Vesteys laid it in
my lap and I could not resist! It has been a great challenge and a great
But now the really hard work starts. We do not underestimate the
challenges from here but we are determined to manage the land for the
benefit of the local community and the wider public. We do not see
ourselves as land owners but as custodians. That means we will be
changing the way the land is run: it will no longer just be a private
sporting estate. Instead we will be working to achieve not only economic
but also environmental sustainability, and creating jobs and new
opportunities for local people through good stewardship. We are planning
a huge ecological restoration effort especially on Drumrunie where we
have ambitions to restore it to NNR status and create the first
community owned NNR in the world. We in Assynt were always a modest lot!
We are profoundly grateful to all those who contributed to our public
appeal, including members of the GSG and the GSG itself. We raised
around L25,000 which, though modest compared with the total purchase
price of L2.9 million, it made the difference between success and
Now we need to raise another L100,000 to capitalise the initial
projects so we are keeping the appeal open. In particular we need to
fund the cost of 3 boats and other equipment to carry out effective deer
and habitat management. Every donation will again make the difference
between success and failure. If you did not find the opportunity to make
a donation towards the purchase you have the chance now to make a
donation to help us get this exciting and visionary project off the
ground and point a new way ahead for land ownership and management in
The GSG contributed L100 to the appeal - after all there is limestone
there and caves might be discovered at some time in the future! Members
who missed their chance to donate earlier and wish to do so now can find
all the details on the Assynt Foundation web site at
www.assyntfoundation.co.uk and you can mail donations to Assynt
Foundation Appeal, 19 Badnaban, Lochinver. IV27 4LR
- Landslip Threat on A835 - According to a recent government report
the 16 km of the A835 between Braemore Junction and Ullapool is on a
list of "high hazard" roads in Scotland. We've already had our trips to
the hut disrupted by the landslips just north of Dunkeld in 2004. If the
A835 suffers then it'll be the long way round by Lairg for us.
Expedition to Staffa
With only a few weeks to go, things are coming together on the
planning of the GSG Expedition to Staffa. We have unfortunately have
seen Dan Harries and Andy Peggie pull out due to pressure of other work
(it's a hard life when one has to make a decision between Staffa and the
Galapagos Islands!). However, we have a team of 8 strong, being Tony
Boycott, Duncan Butler, John Crae, Vern Freeman, Chris Howes & Judith
Calford, Tony Jarrat and myself getting ready to depart on 18 August for
the five day trip to Staffa. The objectives of the expedition are to
survey Fingal's, Clamshell, MacKinnon's, Cormorants and Goat Caves plus
Gunnar Mor using an electronic distance measuring device (EDM) to a high
level, photograph all caves in detail, use the EDM to record Cartesian
coordinates of columnar edges and corners within Fingal's Cave and
possibly Clamshell Cave, and record data of the exposed columnar basalt
pavement by Fingal's Cave. We also hope to record by photograph samples
of any sea life found present within the caves.
We are now confident of getting an EDM, thanks in no small part to
Duncan's work in trawling round the suppliers seeking support. At around
L15,000, the EDM is not the piece of kit you want to lose! I must also
record my thanks for Andy's help in persuading another supplier to hire
us one if Duncan's work came to naught. The use of an EDM is as they say
in the USA, mission critical.
Our intention to produce at least two reports, the major one being
the baseline survey of the caves similar to that produced by Ivan, Pete
and Tim for Assynt. The second report will be on column details and will
look at two separate topics.
The first is to test a hypothesis that Fingal's Cave is formed along
a fault in that it is claimed that the column edges on either side of
the cave are not parallel. Measurements will be taken using the EDM of
the location of column edges. These measurements will be subjected to
statistical analyses to determine if the hypothesis is correct. (It is
also intended to closely examine the end of the cave for signs of a
fault.) The second topic relates to how columnar basalt forms. I have
now made contact with two academics working in this field and who have
expressed interest in the work. Apparently no one has recorded Staffa's
columnar cross sections before, let alone the frequency of types of
polygons present for Staffa lava; a notable omission from the
literature. The more so, when one realises that similar data from the
Giant's Causeway was recorded in 1875 and is still being quoted as the
most comprehensive data set!
Other articles will be produced including the GSG Bulletin presenting
the survey data.
PS any one familiar with post graduate level non-linear elastic theory?