GSG Newsletter 143

20 June 2010

GSG Annual Dinner 2010

This year's annual dinner will be held in the Buck Inn, Malham on Saturday 30th October 2010. Thanks are due to Kirsty and Milche Mills for selflessly volunteering to visit and assess suitable venues in Yorkshire. The three course dinner plus coffee costs £19.50 and bookings should be made on the form enclosed with this Newsletter. Please select all three courses and return it to me with your cheque for the full amount - unless you ask it won't be cashed until October.

Accommodation at the Buck Inn comprises several double and twin-bedded rooms (£30/35) plus a family room that can sleep five. Phone 01729 830317 to reserve rooms. ( Other nearby B&Bs in Malham include the next door River House Hotel (from £37.50) 01729 830315, ( Beck Hall (£25->£34 01729-830332 and Miresfield Farm (£32 01729 830414 which has a small campsite (£4.50 for breakfast). The main campsites are Riverside Campsite, near Malham Cove Tel 01729-830287 NGR SE 899633 a two minute walk from the village and Goredale campsite, near Gordale Scar Tel 01729-830333 NGR SE 914635 which is about one mile from Malham. There is also Malham Youth Hostel (£18) and the Lister Arms (£48). All prices are per person per night for a double/twin bedded room. There are no caving huts in the immediate vicinity and it's nine miles of narrow Yorkshire lanes to the YSS at Helwith Bridge and about 12 to the Dalesbridge Centre.


50th Jubilee Celebrations

There are only 8 months until the start of the GSG's Jubilee year. Make space in your diary for the following special events:

50th Anniversary Celebration Dinner

Saturday 18th June 2011 at the King's Manor Hotel, Edinburgh from 19.00 until late. Tickets will be £25 per person for an excellent and varied three course menu with a ceilidh band after the meal. Dress will be formal. Favourable accommodation rates at the King's Manor are also being negotiated - watch this space for details on booking. A GSG Jubilee edition real ale will be available, see below. Booking forms for the dinner will be distributed towards the end of this year.

Speleocamp Slovenia

A trip is being arranged for 2 weeks in August or September 2011 to Slovenia. All welcome, come and go throughout the fortnight, anything from serious caving to serious relaxing expected. So that a variety of transport and accommodation can be organised, numbers are needed NOW. LATEST:- More information following responses to the initial emailed enquiry to our membership is given on page 11.

GSG Jubilee Beer

Bottles of Potholer with a specially commissioned label (see page 11 for the GSG label competition) will be available at the Anniversary Dinner. Contractual obligations to their brewer prevent the King's Manor from selling our bottles from their bar, so a pre-order token system will be in place. Beer token orders should be made in advance at the same time as your menu selections. Tokens unused on the night will be exchanged for bottles to take home and any surplus beer will be available to buy thereafter. The hotel does have a cash bar as usual for any non-Potholer purchases.

Suzie Robinson

Skull Scanning and a Sea Food Diet

In late May, Ivan, John Crae and Dr Andrew Kitchener (Principal Curator of Vertebrates, National Museums Scotland) travelled to Borders General Hospital, Melrose accompanied by the bear skull from Antler Chamber. We were met by GSG member Judith Burton who is a radiographer in the CT (computerised tomography) unit. She stayed late that evening to scan the skull for us at the highest resolution the CT scanner was capable of - 1mm slices every 0.7mm. The head of the unit Dr John Reid is an avid archaeologist and was positively delighted to help us and to see the skull. This is the first step along the path to producing a copy of the skull on a 3D printer and John Crae has the next task of converting the scans into a suitable format.

Some further information gleaned from the carbon dating results provided by SUERC is that all three bears from Claonaite had a 13C content indicative of a marine diet. Most carbon is the 12C isotope, but about 1.1% is the heavier 13C. Because metabolic pathways differ in their take-up of the different isotopes, by looking at the 13C ratio in the remains it is possible to work out what the animal ate. There is a difference between herbivores and carnivores, but a far greater difference between a terrestrial diet and a marine diet. Our brown bears all have a 13C ratio indicating a mixed terrestrial / marine diet, but biased towards the marine compared to results I found for some Alaskan brown bears

That must mean that fish were a major part of their diet and is perhaps indicative of bleak conditions on the land. This does influence dating because anything living in the sea takes up its carbon from the sea. The radioactive isotope 14C is produced in the atmosphere from nitrogen 14N by cosmic radiation. While it quickly enters the food chain on land it has first to dissolve into the sea to enter the food chain there. That results in organisms in the sea appearing older than they really are when their radiocarbon age is measured and a different calibration curve is needed. For our bears that is likely to make the dates for the Claonaite bears perhaps a few hundred years later (ie more recent) than calibrated using the standard calibration curve. There may be a similar effect if carbon from dissolved Durness Limestone also entered the food chain, but I don't know if the amount would cause a measurable effect.


Caving - Assynt

In April we inspected the Rana scaffolding tower. It had been laid flat over the winter months and the snow had built up over it, solidified, and, I assume, melting from the bottom up had severely bent the main uprights. To keep the kibbles in the centre of she shaft when hauling required us to add two more pieces of scaffolding. See the photo on p4 taken during the QRA field trip. During that trip into Claonaite Seven, Ross Davidson and Derek Pettiglio surveyed from Sump 6 to the end of Tibesti Chamber finding it heading in an unexpected direction. It runs under Duelling Pianos which in turn is under Two A's Chamber and is heading for Claonaite Two. It is also rising so if it did continue in the same fashion it could intersect near the start of Cavity Wall Passage.

Ivan and John meanwhile returned to a rift noticed last year on the way to Concretehead. Removing a few boulders allowed us to drop down into a small chamber with no prospect of any continuation. It had looked much larger before we started digging!

The Mendip Migration started on 23rd April with StuL (Stuart Lindsay) and Duncan Butler (BEC) investigating sites along the Allt nan Uamh and starting a dig in the middle of the three adjoining shakeholes just upstream of the Elephant Trap. Over the next few days a 2 m hole was dug down through peat then clay then sandy moraine with a liberal helping of rocks. The digging was then fairly easy but the sides were loose and unstable. After some thought they filled it back in because some heavy engineering and much shoring would be required to progress safely.

StuL also put time into his streambed dig downstream of ANUSC. After an incident when he left his helmet there, but subsequently recovered it he has named it Lost Helmet Cave. Dick Grindley has translated this as 'Uamh nan Clogaid a bha air chall' .

Also on the 23rd a strong party carried more scaffolding and Norman's reel-to-reel hauling mechanism to Campbell's Cave where they found some poles bent by the winter snows. Most then continued to Rana where they erected the now extremely curved Rana tower with extra bars so the kibbles would drop properly down the shaft. They then extracted possibly the final 70 kibbles of spoil from the bottom. During later visits dismantling of the various scaffolding platforms started and the ladders were rearranged. Tony Boycott removed a lip at the start of the Skye-way thus dropping the water level.

During visits to Claonaite Seven the crawl heading from Sump 6b towards Claonaite Six was pushed for another very tight 12m with one way ending in a very low bedding with the sound of the stream and the other ending higher but with hanging death.

The two main digs this year were at Campbell's Cave and Toll Radain. At Campbell's after sorting out the bendy scaffolding Norman and Mark erected the reel-to-reel system and installed a monorail. With everything ready one test kibble was run through the system. The next day after some finishing touches 50 kibble loads of spoil were extracted. It is being dumped in the adjacent shallow shakehole. In accordance with our agreement with SNH we first stripped it of turf. This will be replaced when digging has finished. The next two digging sessions saw 212 then 214 loads removed and the dig deepened by a couple of metres. The last digging session removed another 94 as more boulders got in the way and the walls closed in. When we stopped we could see voids extending for several metres straight ahead, but also more to either side. It was all looking very hopeful when we left. The final act was left to Tony who (we hope) converted several large boulders to rubble.

Toll Radain is also showing promise with several hundred skip loads removed and reports of draughting voids at the bottom now 6m down. It was left covered with wire grids and the digging gear disassembled and left down the hole.

QRA Field Meeting NW Scotland

This Quaternary Research Association field meeting coincided with the Mendip Migration. Tim Lawson took the 50 strong group on a guided tour of the Allt nan Uamh with some delegates inspecting the surface works at Rana Hole before they all stopped at the Bone Caves for lunch and the opportunity to be lectured by Tim on the sediment banks in the inner Reindeer Cave. I borrowed a spare ladder from Rana for the shaft and took along the Cave Sun LED floodlights to provide illumination. The results from carbon dating of the Claonaite Seven bear skeleton caused some discussion since the 28,400 BP date for it calls into question dates quoted of 30,000 BP for a massive ice stream to be flowing down the Minch. It's not likely that any brown bears would be scampering about Assynt in those conditions. This shows that we are finding data of real value in our explorations, are making a real contribution to the scientific debate, and need to keep our eyes open for more bones!


Creag nan Uamh is Crumbling!

After the main QRA party left the Bone Caves one of the other delegates, Tim and I were discussing the influence of rock strata on the structural strength of cave roofs. We were standing by Foxes Den when we noticed what looked to be fresh spalling along a noticeable crack in the cliff face. Looking more closely it appeared a triangular section massing several hundred tonnes is potentially on its way down to the Allt nan Uamh. Certainly the crack looks as though it has moved recently and at the bottom of the section there is a stratum of crushed rock and some boulders ready to roll. I took several photos of the area and intend to repeat that every time I am up there and check for movement. You may care to do the same and forward me the results.

I've mentioned it to Peter MacGregor so the estate does know about it. I also told SNH, but with the ending of the NNR agreement (NL139 p14) they no longer have any responsibility for it. I may be over-reacting, and possibly nothing will happen until there have been another couple of hard winters. We shall see.

It does give added meaning to the warning signs erected at either end of the crag.!


Latest News:- Over the weekend of 5/6 June another 140 loads were extracted from Campbell's Cave and Julian Walford was almost tempted into squeezing into a large void under the left hand wall. First, however, the slope above needs some serious stabilisation. I also checked the suspect area of Creag nan Uamh finding it unchanged since the end of May. Another set of photos was taken for later analysis.

Uamh nan Brig O'Doon

It is more than sixty years since I first walked in the Pentland Hills that lie to the south of Edinburgh. Over the decades my routes have criss-crossed these hills literally hundreds of times.

Over the years a few of the people I've met on the hills who knew of my interest in caving have mentioned a cave entrance they had seen in the Pentlands (not Jeanie Barries) but were unable to remember its location. I've searched for this from one end of the hills to the other without success!

But I can now reveal that like finding the mythical village of Brigadoon you have to be in the right spot at the right time. This year I was successful in tracking it down finding it in a low cliff of light coloured strata. I followed the passage to a low chamber where I stopped before returning. The cave is only accessible for a few days in the year in which it appears, and it doesn't appear every year!

Jim Salvona

Jim supplied the accompanying photograph as proof of his claim, but is still being remarkably coy about the precise location.

Upper Flood Swallet, Charterhouse, Mendips Saturday 6 February 2010

On the Friday night, GSG members Julie Hesketh-Laird and Peter Dennis arrived at the Mendip Caving Group cottage near Charterhouse after an afternoon flight from Edinburgh and evening bike ride from Aberystwyth, respectively. Julie had kindly invited Peter along because a guest place was available for a trip into Upper Flood Swallet and she was aware that he had missed out on three previous opportunities. Upper Flood is restricted to groups of four, including a recognised leader.

The full group gathered during breakfast on Saturday morning and preparations were made for the main purpose of the trip. Mike Richardson and Ben Cooper (both MCG) wanted to install and test a ventilation system at a dig face in East Passage because they had previously encountered high CO2 concentrations which had halted progress. Ben carried a Peli case with drill, rawl plugs, eyebolts and plastic ties, Mike carried a tackle sack with electric fan and power packs and Peter a tackle sack with coiled ducting and a water bottle. Tim Francis and Richard Carey set out with us, but went off ahead to explore the far reaches before planning to assist at the dig.

With excitement in anticipation of the cave, Peter accompanied everyone along the road and track to reach Velvet Bottom where the entrance is capped by a locked, steel lid. Once down the entrance ladder and steps, all made rapid progress hauling the equipment through Upper Flood Passage, straightforward albeit with stooping, hands and knees and occasional but easy flat-out crawls along the rubble floor. The chamber in this section and beyond the Duck and Midnight Chamber is surprisingly well decorated with stal and calcite flows, some sections requiring low crawling to avoid damage to the splendid straws and curtains. This section ended at the Lavatory Trap and Sludge Duck where immersion in water is unavoidable. The Trap demands a step down into a small depression retaining a muddy pool. From here everyone had to push through a flat out wet crawl on their back, with helmet removed to pass a low arch of restricted air space (Sludge Duck), followed by a T-junction where cleaner, shallower water is encountered and can be followed flat out but face down. Following the combined Midnight and Shale streamway soon led everyone to the Red Room where the Boulder Choke begins. The red calcite flow here suggested that historic mineral workings had mobilised ochre and other minerals after the calcite formations were deposited.

The Boulder Choke presented the most sporting section. Many and varied contortions and short climbs were required to pass the various squeezes at various angles. Peter carried an Oldham T3 cell on battery belt but was relieved not to need to remove this at any stage although some prior thought about cell position on back, left or right hip was necessary to ease progress. Peter followed Julie through each constriction and Mike followed behind offering good advice on general body position. Free-fall, head first down slope worked best for Peter too! This included '3D squeeze' where he tried to step in feet first but could not roll forward over knees for the head first, exit step. He needed to reverse out and start again head first which made the obstacle very easy.

Once the September 2006 breakthrough point was reached and the descent of the final boulder slope into the impressively decorated Blackmoor Master Cave was completed, everyone took a short break at the Departure Lounge. After a rest the group proceeded apace along the streamway of Malcolm's Way, with impressive calcite flows and speleothems, passing the novel calcite obstacle of 'Walking the Plank' on a sharp corner. Once the constriction that halted progress in September 2006 was passed, the group entered Royal Icing Passage and the 2008 extensions. On passing Brian's Eye, a pit to the right of the passage, Mike commented that this had recently sumped following excavation but it was dry again and rekindled interest in further work there. Next the group entered East Passage to the dig in the Rift Series. Julie and Peter stayed whilst Mike ran the ducting to the dig and Ben drilled out the first holes for rawl plugs and eye bolts to attach the ties. Julie then led Peter on a tour into East Passage at Zebra Aven, back to Royal Icing Chamber onto West Passage where they met Tim and Rich who were going to the dig. They continued past the beautifully decorated entrance of Neverland and pushed on to Chuckle Choke, where an audible but obscured streamway runs below a small rubble depression adjacent to a static sump. Once as far along West Passage as comfortable, they returned to the link with Royal Icing Chamber and Peter took some photos at the entrance of Hidden Passage before they both returned to the dig to assess progress and find out what was planned for exit. A few more skips of spoil were planned so Julie and Peter set off ahead to steadily reverse their route and avoid congestion. They eventually exited into dark, starry skies with ice forming along the track back to the MCG cottage. A thoroughly enjoyable and exhilarating trip witnessing evidence of prospects for the discovery of more cavern and passage.

Peter Dennis

Croatian Expedition to the UK

The Croatians who visited us last year (NL140 p4) are returning for two weeks of caving this August. Hugh Penney has been helping them with their plans and writes:- "They are driving from Croatia to arrive in Scotland on Thursday 5th August. We will probably need people to put them up in the central belt on the night they arrive. The only really important times are the weekends - in between we don't need to be available, but if people are free that would be great. Applecross and Skye would be a great place to take or send them, but they may have ideas of their own. For the first weekend the GSG hut is booked in Elphin and Bullpot Farm is booked for the second. After that the suggestion is to continue south to South Wales and / or Mendip. If you'd like to help, volunteer yourself by contacting Hugh


Thursday 5th August - arrive central Scotland, Assynt - Friday 6th to Monday 9th, Bullpot Farm - Saturday 14th to Monday 16th, Wales Tuesday 17th to Thursday 19th, Friday 20th August - leave for Croatia.

The Assynt weekend of 7/8 August is now a GSG weekend so I trust there will be plenty of us there to act as guides and, perhaps, encourage them to join us in a dig!

Latest Caving Aid - a Yacht

OK, not essential for most caves, but it certainly helped access to two underground sites! While sailing around Vis on the Dalmatian coast (Croatia) recently, we motored into a small bay near Rogacic, seeking refuge from the southerly wind. To our surprise, well hidden on the landward side of the headland, we found a submarine pen, already occupied by two yachts. This provided excellent moorings overnight. The island of Vis had been a stronghold and major military base for Tito, then head of the Yugoslav partisans. The submarine pen is approximately 130 m long by 20 high. Massive concrete baffles protect the entrance from attack. A tunnel leads from one side of the pen out to the cliff with the entrance guarded by blast doors. On the headland are the remains of gun emplacements and other buildings, and many more were spotted as we sailed around the island. The island remained a military base, and was only opened to visitors in 1989 when the last submarine left.

Just to the south of Vis, we visited the amazing Blue Cave, ( a sea cave on the small island of Bisevo. Taking the small tender from the yacht, we paddled towards the entrance where a boatman collected our 30 kunas entry fee, The entrance, approximately 2.5 m wide and 1.5m high, soon opens out to a larger passage - although as George and I discovered, not large enough to absorb a large swell that caught us at the narrowest part!! As the waters calmed and we paddled on in the darkness, one becomes aware of a blue light that increases to an amazing intensity and brilliance - the main chamber is lit by sunlight through an underwater arch and then reflected off the sandy seabed and white limestone rock. The best time to visit is mid-morning to early afternoon for the most intense light, and off-season - I would hate to be there when the cave is packed with small boats. Quite unique - as a collector of show caves, this has to rank in the Top Ten.

Jackie Sutherland

Membership News

One new member has joined since the last issue:- Mike Todd - tells of caving with Whernside Manor many years ago and enjoying it but other commitments took over. He recently moved to Kyle with early retirement. A copy of Caves of Applecross and Kishorn reawakened his interest. He's been put in touch with David and Ritchie and they've been warned not to drag Mike into some of their tighter finds for his first caving trip in Scotland.

New Members

Mike Todd

New Addresses

Rebecca & Greg Carter; Kate Janossy & Fraser Stephens

Other Changes

Gareth Dennis email; John Glover email;

  • Peter Dowswell has just taken early retirement from Scottish Water. Time will tell if this results in heightened activity on hut maintenance and the shed extension. In the meantime prepare to receive more emails on the subject from him.
  • Tony Boycott is another retiring member - a decision made easier when he looked at the cost to him in insurance and membership fees of remaining an active doctor.
  • Eric Glen a member who left the GSG in the early 70's and considered by Goon to be one of the best cavers ever produced in Scotland suddenly appeared on Goon's doorstep this spring after decades of silence. He came along to the Cumberland Bar and was soon chatting about long ago caving trips with those few members - such as Andy Peggie - who had been in the Group at the time.
  • Russell Salisbury a GSG member from 2001 to 2008 died in January this year. Karin Grust tells us that they are planning a day 'in memory of Russell' on Ben Nevis. It will be on Saturday, the 12th June. It was Russell's wish to have his ashes scattered at Indicator Wall and it is not surprising that he has chosen Ben Nevis. Russell loved the North Face and he was talking a lot about trips to 'The Ben' that he did in his twenties and whenever we went up this mountain in recent years he always got excited again. Russell's caving friends are invited to join in. The plan is to meet on the summit between 1 and 2pm. A BBQ is being organised for Saturday on the beach at Onich. Information and arrangements will be posted on the Lomond Mountaineering Club website.

Is That So?

On behalf of the Mendip Cave Registry and Archive, GSG member Robin Tav Taviner is pleased to present Is That So? a selection of tales from some of caving's legendary 'Nutters, Characters, Pissheads and Selfless, Generous Rough Diamonds'.

Written by cavers for cavers and including numerous contributions from your fellow club members, the tales in this book cover the whole gamut of caving activities and range in content from the gentle and sublime, right through to the embarrassing, ridiculous, badly-behaved and downright X-Certificate! So if you want to find out who crapped on a crocodile, who had a blazing row with a show cave mannequin, who got struck by lightning on no less than three occasions and who sent a 'Get Well Soon' card to the funeral of the world's most famous caver, then this is the book for you.

This book was published at the end of April and copies are expected to run out by the end of June. If you want a copy order one now. Email Tav first on rtaviner @ to check if there are any left then post him a cheque payable to 'Mendip Cave Registry & Archive' for £11.32 to cover postage and packing. Tav is also selling Robin Gray's original cartoons for the book and has a few left. If interested contact Tav to check availability. The A4 size are generally selling for £15 and the larger ones (A3 ish) for £25-£30, again with the proceeds going to the MCRA. A bargain price as they are worth a lot more than that!

Mendip Cave Registry & Archive

The MCRA is intended as a freely accessible on-line central resource of data for cavers and others interested in the subterranean world. Accessible from, the registry contains information on nearly two thousand caves and mines, while the associated on line Bibliography includes over 30,000 references from 883 AD to 2010 AD. In addition, the on-line archive provides a free digital information resource for cavers holding amongst other things photographs, postcards, surveys, films and cavers log books - including those of the late Tony 'J-Rat' Jarratt.

All proceeds from 'Is That So?' are going towards financing future MCRA Publications, which will include among others, a thoroughly revised 'History of Mendip Caving' and a long awaited update to 'Mendip Underground'. The date of these publications is subject entirely to available funding and as it is a voluntary organisation which receives no financial aid from any external organisation, the MCRA is dependent upon the support of the wider caving community. So if you would like to see these publications in print sooner rather than later, then please buy a copy of 'Is That So?' to help things on their way!


Elphin Caving Centre

Confirmed Taigh nam Famh Bookings

contact Hut Warden for latest information

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

If you want to stay in the hut please contact the Hut Warden - Peter Dowswell - to check if there will be space It is never too soon to book and can be too late if another group has already booked.

Work will commence soon on laying the foundations for the shed extension and a plan developed for completing the rest of the building. It will require a lot of effort, but will give us a lot more usable room and will help remove some of the clutter from the changing area adjacent to the back door. If you would like to help please contact me and let me know what weekends you might be available and what building skills you have. If you're helping with the building project your hut fees will be waived and assistance may be provided with transport costs

Assynt News

  • Elphin School - There is now a formal board of the Elphin, Ledmore & Knockan Community Association which will I imagine be managing all aspects of the local community's renting, renovating and running of the school. Kate at the Alt is one of the directors and was busy signing up members at the weekend. Several of us signed up as ELKs. Numbers are important when applying for grants so I'll place a membership application form on the GSG private web server once I get one. You can sign up as either a full or an associate member. Full membership does carry a potential liability, but that is restricted to £1.
  • Bridge reconstruction - All three new bridges are now in use with only lines to be painted and tidying up of the sites to do. I expect the traffic lights will be gone by the end of June.

Internet Caving


The GSG is now on Facebook. A group page has been set up to raise our profile and to guide interested parties towards the GSG Internet website. The content therefore is fully open for Public viewing, it has tabs for Discussion Posts, Information, Events,Photos and a Wall where anyone can post items and links to. At the moment the photos uploader is not opened to everyone in order to try to control the amount of similar photos, but if anyone wants a photo or two of anything in particular put on, just post it on your own Facebook photo album and share it to the "Wall". I'll try to pick up on requests, but I'm not intending to become a webmaster for this full time. I've already loaded a few photos and links to Videos of a Caving nature that I hope folks will find interesting. The "Discussions" tab allows the club as a group for the first time as far as I know to get involved in "live" discussions if they choose to do so via the Web, I hope folks will find it an interesting experience... How do you find the GSG page? ..if you're on Facebook already just use the "Search" facility to look for "GSG Caving". If you're not on Facebook already you would have to join first I'm afraid.

Alex Latta

GPS Jamming

If you look at the amateur radio site - you'll read about GPS jamming exercises planned for the 5th to 15th July in the area west of Kirkwall. The military conduct these exercises fairly often, but they only affect a limited area for a limited time. West of Kirkwall isn't going to affect many folk, but there are exercises planned for September in Wales in a military training area between Llanwrtyd Wells and the Brecon Beacons national park boundary. So beware of placing too much faith in your GPS receiver if you are near the military!

Bear Cub v Mountain Lion

Nothing to do with caving except for the bear connection, this short extract from a full length film leaves one amazed at how they managed to shoot it:-

Speleocamp Slovenia - 2011

With strong representations from several members and a slight majority in its favour the date for this is now the first half of August. It is proposed that our main base will be Speleocamp at Laze, a small village situated forty minutes drive from Ljubljana and an hour and a half from Trieste. Speleocamp is run by Frenk, a local caver. He also has a bunkhouse and two apartments to rent. Julie Hesketh who could be there in early August has a part-share of a cottage near the Croatian border.

There are many caves in the surrounding area; enough to cater for everyone's needs. There is also a guidebook written in English which will help. So that a variety of transport and accommodation can be organised numbers are needed now. Contact Fraser Simpson (fraser @ to register your interest and to be included in receiving further information.

Fraser Simpson

Some advice from a Frequent Visitor

I heard that you would be having a Committee meeting this week and might be making a decision about when to arrange the Slovenia 2011 trip. We visit Slovenia a fair bit (about 2 or 3 times a year, mostly touristing with only a smattering of caving bar a 2 week caving trip in '04). I thought I'd drop you a line with some thoughts based on our experiences of travelling out there.

As the 2011 trip is a special one, it would be really good to be as inclusive as possible and allow those with work and family commitments to go during the summer holidays. To be sure that having the trip in August rather than September wouldn't leave folk out of pocket too much, I thought that it would be worth checking out air fares to the Speleocamp.

We have taken various routes and have checked out others. The following are what we have found most useful and affordable.

Based on today's cheapest fares for 2010 dates:

  • Easyjet Edinburgh to Munich Aug - £49.99, Sept - £29.99 (not done it but reckon on 4 hr drive)
  • Easyjet London to Ljubliana Aug - £49.99, Sept - £29.99 (45 min drive but got to go via London)
  • Ryanair London Stansted to Trieste Aug - £18.99, Sept - £11.99 (1.5 hours drive)
  • Jet2 Edinburgh to Venice (2 hours drive) Aug - £9.99 (on 6 Aug), Sept - £19.99
  • Ryanair London Stansted to Klagenfurt (3.5 hours drive) Aug - £33.99, Sept - £11.99.

So, if you flew to Venice with Jet2 (our preference as you save on baggage charges via London and a 4 hour wait at Stansted), then it might be cheaper to go in August, but even if you took another route, it isn't significantly more. It is a fair bit cheaper to hire cars in Italy vs. Slovenia where car hire is quite pricey so that is another factor to consider. Of course, if dates are announced soon, bookings can be made early at the cheapest price.

Frenk at the Speleo Camp charges the same fees in August as well as September and I've not noticed that any other prices go up in the summer months at all. I arranged the MCG 50th anniversary trip to Slovenia in July/August 2004 to accommodate some MCG members who were teachers and at that time the flight prices were similar (though many chose to drive over) and being there in August was no more expensive than any other time of year. Speleocamp is a very friendly place to stay. As well as camping, they have a bunkhouse that sleeps about 16. And the bonus is that there is also a self-contained flat which sleeps 4 (with a lounge/bedroom plus a separate double bedroom plus shower room etc.). I know Fraser is in touch with Frenk already, but I'll be seeing Frenk next month when we are out in Slovenia so can make some enquires or firm up a booking if you like. I guess the bunkhouse and apartment get booked early.

Another benefit of August is that the Slovenes are on holiday, so if you want to seek the guidance and friendship of any local cavers, July/Aug (but mostly August) is the best time to be there. Slovenia is not at all a busy place at any time of the year outside the ski season and August is not crowded.

I really hope that dates can be found that allow as wide a possible number of GSG to attend and hope to be able to join you. Let me know if there is any more info I might be able to help out with.

Julie Hesketh


Most members will be familiar with the most acceptable Potholer golden ale produced by Cheddar Ales - under a different label it was also dispensed as 'Rat's Piss' in honour of the late Tony Jarratt. For the dinner of our 50th Jubilee celebration, we plan to purchase a large quantity of bottles, with our own customised label on it.

The final design will be realised for us by Mark 'Gonzo' Lumley, but we need to decide what elements are required to make it uniquely ours. In order to progress this idea, a competition is offered to members: give us your ideas. We are not looking for a completed design, just the essential elements you feel should appear. Winning entries will be in line for some free beer!

For guidance - the Potholer label has a monochrome photograph of a Mulu cave as background, with the titling superimposed in white. The part of the label available for customising measures 8cms wide by 8.5cms high so obviously it won't take too much fussy detail. Perhaps you think the club coat of arms, or the Boot should be there. Should it be humorous or 'classic'? How can it best reflect the GSG?

Please give it some thought and send your suggestions (remember, not a finished design) to Goon by 11th September 2010.


News from Mendip

A number of duo membership "diggers" are chasing that elusive "passages immeasurable to man" and, to be PC, "woman". Cainehill is still progressing slowly. For the past year PaulB and StuL have been part of the regular team, consisting of Trev Hughes, Jake Baynes, Phil Coles and John Noble who have been actively pursuing the hopefully misnamed "terminal rift". At -7m it seems to have bottomed out, but a tube tending north and down dip, still full of the loamy fill is quite small. In the past month it has received 2 hefty wallops, a 7 hole thump then a 4 hole thump. A lot of rock has been generated, and the working space will be somewhat larger, when cleared. The air is often desperate as 3 of the team have experienced, in this deep enclosed pit.

A second face, the original End Of Dig has also been probed with lesser amounts of wallop, this tends more to the west and is also going down. The area here is very crystallized and is being made larger with the odd capping foray. A large Nilfisk vacuum cleaner has been recruited to aid air quality. StuL, with help, is currently plumbing in about 30 metres of 10cm and 5 cm tubing to enable a reliable air supply, (sucking out bad air) The spin off is the pipe makes a useful "phone".

Also Holmclose is progressing toward that fateful day when they will have to start digging, Tony Audsley and Jeff Price have now got the pavilion built, the second shaft started and the area around the top of the shaft ready for the yurt! Only joking. It's a shed for the winch and tools. A pit was dug for clay to level the floor, and the area around the shaft prepared for drainage and safe working area. As Tony said at the weekend, the area needs stabilizing by diverting run-off water away from the shaft top. The problem of being in a depression is 360 degrees of water incursion. In the shaft area it erodes soil from around the pipe sides undermining the integrity of the pipes causing them to lean or become unstable, and the washed in spoil the dig area.

The big one, Templeton still will not give up its secret but gets regular attention. At -60m plus it is a work of art, and must surely give in soon to the persistence of the team digging it. As I understand it a horizontal distraction has given way to further downward progress.

"KEEP ON DIGGING" bet we will

StuL Stuart Lindsay

Bowden Hill

The series of entrances on the front face of Bowden Hill have gradually been linked underground by the GSG, but early visits to Holes 1 and 2 (in 1964) suggested they were isolated and not likely to join passages in Hole 3. On 29th May Goon made a solo visit to Hole 3 to closely examine four choked inlet passages on the left side. In the third one, some 250 paces from daylight, he found a 19.5 metre crawl which ended at a V-shaped choke with about five metres of passage visible beyond. A powerful cool draught was blowing out of this passage which strongly suggested a connection with Hole 2, only about 50 metres up the hill. Examining this latter revealed (a) a small passage just inside the entrance extending towards Hole 3 and at the end some 200 paces in, a navigable choke which needs to be fully explored. It seems a connection of all entrances is a high possibility.


GSG Expatriates' Weekend, 5-6 June

Kate Janossy and Fraser Stephens hosted a house party at their new home near Abergavenny on 5-6 June 2010. Caving featured strongly on the list of activities on offer alongside superb walking and off-road cycling opportunities for other guests. Being a rather busy weekend with other GSG events, there was a very expatriate profile to the GSG members who did attend. On Saturday morning, Kate and Fraser were joined by Julian Warren (Sheffield) and Peter Dennis (Aberystwyth). Peter had borrowed the Agen Allwedd key from the SWCC the previous weekend and after being joined by Judith Calford (Descent editorial team), we set off for the Llangattock entrance in fine sunshine.

We explored to Music Hall for a break and a little fun, on through to Cliffs of Dover and some of the excavations at the terminus and off Trident Passage. Returning to Main Stream Passage we pushed through the 2nd boulder choke, where Kate and Fraser departed to prepare for guests whilst Julian, Judith and Peter continued to Northwest Junction. Here they followed Turkey Streamway to the impressive Beehive Inlet. They returned with only a couple of minor deviations from the route in the 2nd Boulder Choke and one more in the 1st Boulder Choke, slightly slowed because all the contortions had aggravated Julian's old knee injury.

We walked out and stopped briefly at Whitewalls for mugs of water to take the edge of a powerful thirst and enjoyed a fine BBQ in the company of local cavers and other friends. On Sunday, Julian declined a caving trip due to the tender knee and Kate, Fraser and Peter set off for the Rock and Fountain Inn to meet Barry Burn (Bryn Mawr Caving Club and ex-GSG member) and Huw Jones (Bryn Mawr CC) for a fine return trip to Hall of the Mountain King in Ogof Craig a Ffynnon, under extremely dry conditions.

It was sad to witness the state of the Inn, now derelict and up for sale. Apparently, a faulty tumble drier caused a fire at in 2008. The blaze broke through the right-hand section of roof and the combination of weather and vandals has since wrecked most of the building. Some readers will recall an excellent GSG annual dinner weekend at the Inn in 2000.

Peter Dennis

← Back to Newsletters