GSG Newsletter 132

15 October 2007

Potholing on Mars! - the Seven Sisters

The NASA Odyssey spacecraft currently orbiting Mars has found
evidence of caverns on the red planet. It has photographed what appear
to be circular openings in the Martian surface on the northern slopes of
the volcano Arsia Mons at 121 west longitude 9 south latitude. The
thermal imager on Odyssey found that these spots are cooler than the
surrounding surface in the day and warmer during the night. This is what
would be expected if they were deep holes or openings into underground
caverns. Comparable cavities on earth include Mexico's El Sotano a 410m
deep pit with a 450 x 200m entrance.

"The features have been given informal names to aid comparative
discussion. They range in diameter from about 100 meters (328 feet) to
about 225 meters (738 feet). The candidate cave skylights are (A)
"Dena," (B) "Chloe," (C) "Wendy," (D) "Annie," (E) "Abby" (left) and
"Nikki," and (F) "Jeanne." Arrows signify north and the direction of
illumination" (image and words from NASA press release, courtesy

NASA reports that some of the holes "are in line with strings of
bowl-shaped pits where surface material has apparently collapsed to fill
the gap created by a linear fault". Would we call them shakeholes?
Despite any similarities to limestone shafts on Earth, these holes must
be formed in bedded lava flows. The initial report hypothesises that
underground stresses caused by volcanism led to linear faults and
sub-surface cavities. Another explanation might involve lava tubes.
There has been discussion for many years on how the lower Marian gravity
(0.4 Earth gravity) would affect cavern formation with the predicted
maximum passage sizes being much larger than anything possible here.

The only way to gather the data necessary to determine the origin of
the Seven Sisters is to mount an expedition. This needs to be a caving
expedition so with GSG members collectively possessing all the necessary
skills we are the ideal group. We'll be contacting Wallace and Gromit to
borrow their spacecraft (single owner, low mileage (500,000)see "A Grand
Day Out").

Applicants should be skilled in SRT, surveying and holding their breath
for lengthy periods.

Smugglers' Cave to be Re-opened

In September 2006 GSG member Norman Murphy sent us an article from
East Lothian Life describing the search for a long lost smugglers' cave
on the shore at Aberlady. The best account of it is in a letter written
in 1940 by a Thomas Murray who visited it in the 1890's not long before
it was filled in. It appears to have been a souterrain rather than a
cave as most of the walls were of masonry. It was 50 yards long with at
least nine recesses of varying lengths on either side. Recently a low
section of mortared stonework projecting onto the beach has been
identified as the likely entrance. The article mentioned that the
Aberlady Conservation Society planned to reopen the cave as part of a
larger scheme of archaeological investigation of the area, so we waited
for developments. Meanwhile Jim Salvona took a walk along the shore, but
somehow resisted the temptation to start excavating.

In September Alison Fuller-Shapcott joined a tour of Aberlady
including a visit to the site of the cave. This was given by Ian
Malcolm, secretary of the ACS. He talked about the problems involved in
opening the entrance and Alison offered the GSG's assistance. The
following weekend Peter Ireson and Ivan joined Alison and son Alexander
to visit the entrance with Ian and another ACS member. Photographs were
taken and it proved possible to poke a handy nearby branch about two
metres into a hole beside the wall. It does look as though excavation
will be easy, but the 2m cube of concrete tank trap peeking out of the
bank above the probable entrance does give some concerns about the state
of that section of cave.

ACS are submitting a grant application that includes ground
penetrating radar over the area above the cave to determine its depth
and dimensions, and excavation of the entrance area to give a first look
at its construction and stability. That application doesn't include any
work in the cave as just how much is possible won't be known until
completion of the other work. As a result of our discussions with Ian
the GSG has volunteered to explore and survey the passage assuming that
it is safe to do so.



Rana Hole - Since the July Newsletter progress measured in number
of kibbles of spoil lifted to the surface has been negative. In August
Chris Warwick and his daughter Shona, Preston White and Ivan spent a day
completely demolishing the collapsed dam between Hole 1 and Hole 2 and
rebuilding it to a much improved design. This has two walls of sandbags
held in place by posts driven into the floor with wire grids inside
them. The gap between the sandbag walls is then filled with compacted
spoil and provides the real barrier again water penetration. At the
bottom we built in a length of flexible 4" diameter plastic corrugated
ducting to act as a drain. Lengths of cord tied through the grids and
round the posts on either side of the dam hold it together. This made a
good solid construction and by baling from one side to the other we did
manage to get Hole 1 dry. On the Sunday we all returned and built the
dam higher using more sandbags and fill sent down from the surface.

The sequence of operations when starting to dig is to bail Hole 1
into Hole 2. All this bailed water runs away down the passage towards
Belh Aven. Bailing Hole 2 back into Hole 1 then gives a 'dry' dig site
with enough storage volume unused behind the dam to cope with the inflow
down the pot.

This method worked but suffered from a couple of problems. The bottom
half metre of dam had to be built underwater so the sealing wasn't as
good as it might have been, and it tapered at the end with the pipe so
the width of fill there was much reduced. This led to a steadily
worsening leak around the pipe probably exacerbated by bending it up and
down to start and stop the flow through it. The result of this was that
the next weekend at the end of August found us spending more time
bailing than digging. Julian Walford successfully placed a lined Jewsons
bag (the 1 ton variety used to deliver sand or gravel) on the lower
platform and used for additional water storage. We then decided the main
dam needed serious remedial work and started dismantling it to make a
smaller dam at the outflow end of Hole 2.

The next visit in mid-September saw Julian, John Crae, Ivan and
Norman Flux arrive on a Friday morning with more wooden posts, 4" and
32mm pipe and some 'stocks'. We started by bailing out Hole 1 then moved
all the bags and some of the fill to finish the small dam at the end of
Hole 2. Quite a few minutes of intensive effort saw all the water from
Holes 1 and 2 bailed beyond this dam to give a dry foundation for us to
completely rebuild the main dam. This was made wider. As well as a 4"
pipe to act as a drain we included a 32mm water pipe with a valve on the
downstream end. These were held captive in 'stocks' to stop them moving
about under load and possibly leading to leakage. Another improvement
was a builder's prop across the downstream side of the dam and near the
top. This reinforces the dam's edge and the confidence of diggers
burrowing into the passage with several tons of dam and water looming
over them.

The following day and joined by Peter Reynolds we continued dam
building. Unfortunately Rana was the wettest it had been all summer and
the dam was almost overflowing before digging could start. We'd
exhausted supplies of fill at the bottom the previous day so had to
resort to sending down more sandbags and fill from the surface. This
raised the dam by another foot.

On Sunday, Roger Galloway, Annie Audsley and Jamie (Boab) Yuill
joined us for a very crowded session at the bottom. It was an early
start with the first squad away by 9am! Hole 1 was bailed dry and dug to
increase the dam's capacity. Then after Hole 2 was bailed back into Hole
1, digging started in earnest. Four large sandbags were filled and left
on the downstream side of the dam. This leaves the volume of water in
Hole 2 unchanged. We also filled more sandbags and raised the top of the
dam by another layer. By now the flow down Rana was about to overflow
the dam so we finished for the weekend, opened up the drain and left.

The last visit was just before the rescue exercise in early October.
Four of us - Julian and Carol Walford, Annie and Ivan - arrived a day
early and spent Friday digging. And this time it really was digging. It
had been a dry week and only the lower risings were flowing as we walked
up the Allt nan Uamh valley. Rana was so much drier that after the usual
bailing sequence I estimate it would have taken perhaps 12 to 18 hours
for the water to overtop the dam. With only four of us it wasn't
possible to haul spoil to the surface so we redistributed it three

  1. We filled more sandbags and built up the dam
  2. Several more large sandbags were filled and left below the dam in
    Hole 2.
  3. A one ton Jewson bag was sat on top of the dam and filled. When
    hauling starts next time this can be easily transferred into kibbles and

We started by lowering the floor about a metre from the bottom of the
dam: we didn't want to undermine it! From there we dug horizontally,
deepening the passage into the soft fill and making it about one metre
high. In cross-section it is about 0.6m wide between solid rock walls
with a narrow rift in the roof. It is full of sediment up to the level
of the rift. The water usually runs away on top of this fill. Digging
proved to be very easy. There were a few small boulders in the first
metre, but from then on it was sand, gravel and silt all the way. Just
place a bucket at the bottom of the dig face, stick a spade in and the
bucket is full (over full according to some) within seconds.

When we ran out of places to store spoil we tried our plan of losing
water by piping it ahead of us along the passage. We attached a hose to
the 32mm pipe running through the base of the dam. This had another
length of 32mm MDPE pipe at its far end. We poked it ahead of us in the
rift above the dig face and turned the valve on. For a while we thought
we'd succeeded as the water started flowing and could be heard falling
into a pool. However, after a couple of minutes, water started flowing
back into the dig. There must be a hollow in the top of the sediments
just ahead of us and the overflow level down into Belh Aven is set by a
hump further along the passage. We need to dig a bit further or use a
longer pipe to reach the point where our scheme will work. Once we do we
should be able to work even with much higher flow rates at the bottom of

We left well pleased, but intensely frustrated that we wouldn't be
able to get a team in that weekend to make what we felt sure would have
been rapid progress. Saturday was fully occupied with the rescue
exercise, and the SCRO AGM on Sunday morning reduced what is normally a
short digging day into one where there wasn't enough time before
everyone started driving south. Provided we can collect a full team and
choose a dry weekend we are now poised to make major progress.


New Discovery in Traligill

While on the rescue exercise on 6th October Malcolm McConville
discovered two possible cave entrances on the North side of the
Traligill valley, to which Malcolm, Ross Davidson, Derek Pettiglio, Mark
Lonnen, Bob Sommerville and Carol Dickson returned on Sunday. The first
entrance was choked with several boulders, which were removed, leaving a
rather constricted entrance of debatable stability. Gingerly passing
this a steep, greasy downward slope was found which descended about 9
feet, at the foot of which a tight tube led off to the left. After
removing a few rocks this was entered to a distance of a couple of body
lengths before becoming tighter still. ( NGR:- NC 27029 21245)

A second cave entered, further uphill, seems on subsequent reading to
be a rediscovery of Pol Eighe, albeit at slightly different co-ordinates
to those in Caves of Assynt. It was felt by the group that it was highly
likely that the new find received its water from Pol Eighe, and that a
revisit with some dye would be worthwhile. (NGR:- NC 27016 21289)

A third entrance was located, where a hand-to-wellie connection was
made through an eyehole at the base of the entrance. A steady flow of
water disappeared down a second eyehole, currently too small to enter
but again worthy of dye testing for connection to the other two. (NGR:-
NC 27014 21403)

Ross Davidson


Over the last few weekends David Morrison and I have managed to
extend Vampire Pot. First we found a short passage at the previous end
of the cave leading to more water-worn passage and a chamber with a low
rift passage leading on. We also widened and hammered our way upstream
of the extension to another chamber. We then dye tested Vampire Cave and
a connection was made between the two caves. Some hammer work has seen
more metres gained as the passage heads steeply up towards Vampire Cave.

A hole was found downhill of these caves at approximately 583 211.
This was dug into and about 5m was found with a chamber large enough to
stand in. It has large hanging blocks on one side and in keeping with
the theme of the area it was named Van Helsing's Hole.

Richard Simpson


Recent Yorkshire trips have included Diccan Pot, Sell Gill Holes, and
Ireby Fell Cavern via the new Bubbles Route. Latest reports tell of a
short ladder installed in the sloping concrete entrance pipe of Ireby.
At long last! Many cavers have found climbing out through the pipe to be
the crux of the trip.

High Pasture Cave - 2007 Report

Excavations have finished at High Pasture Cave for 2007. We have had
a very successful year, both with the archaeology and in the number of
visitors to the site. In August, we sometimes had up to 80 people per
day turning up, due in part to our new site leaflet, adverts put out by
'Highland 2007' and an article in the Scotsman Magazine. We also had
several primary schools visiting the site, who were generally well
behaved, although it would have been quite easy to have put some in the
cavers' entrance and padlocked the entrance cover!

The excavations in the cave have proceeded well and by the end of
next year we will have removed the remaining archaeological deposits.
Beyond the narrowing in Bone Passage, the archaeological deposits
changed considerably when compared to those at the base of the
stairwell/entrance. The deposits here comprise medium to large boulder
clasts (limestone and granite), washed gravels and cobbles, and a gritty
matrix. Beyond the narrowing in the passage we have only recovered one
small find - a bone point or awl - a few fragments of splintered animal
bone, burnt bone fragments and fire-cracked stones. It appears that the
initial chamber at the base of the stairwell was where the main
deposition of materials was taking place, while further into the cave we
find the deposition of butchered animal carcasses - up to now two cows,
with a possible third cow embedded in the calcite grotto at the far end
of Bone Passage. However, although finds have been few and far between
from Bone Passage this year, we did recover a socketed iron axe. This is
a very rare find, one of only around 16 recovered from the British
Isles. The axe appears to be in the same form as the earlier socketed
axes cast in copper-alloy, although being manufactured from iron we are
witnessing a real technological advance. The axe is now at the National
Museums of Scotland in Edinburgh for x-ray analysis and conservation

Surface excavations have revealed some interesting finds. In Trench
14, initially established to examine one of the post-medieval shielings,
we have continued down into deep deposits comprising burnt stones and
re-deposited silts. We uncovered part of a large hearth setting and a
deep pit feature. Small finds here have been few - a few pieces of
worked flint, a roughed out shale bangle, and a spiky-looking iron
concretion, also in conservation. We plan to open a larger area here
next year.

The most interesting and testing archaeology of the year has been in
Trench 15, investigating the deep archaeological deposits immediately
outside the stairwell/cave entrance. The trench has uncovered a complex
of walls, small ephemeral structures and deposits of ash and charcoal.
Two of the walls arc around, the excavated 'cavers entrance' to High
Pasture Cave, and it is possible that these revetment walls represent
some form of water management system - to inhibit the flow of water into
Bone Passage and the area outside the stairwell during flash-flooding

Excavations finished in this trench for the year when we uncovered a
well-built wall, of quite large proportions, that most likely enclosed
the area outside the stairwell/cave entrance where activities were
taking place during prehistory. We have only uncovered between two and
three courses of the wall due to the threat of collapse! Subsidence has
occurred somewhere below the wall in the backfill of stone and
ash/midden layers, resulted in the wall tilting at an alarming angle.
Therefore, we have left the clay capping over the wall and some of the
supporting material to the front of this feature, so that it hopefully
survives the winter. We can then address the excavation of this feature
next year.

On the stairwell side of the wall face, we excavated a complex
sequence of midden and ash layers rich in charcoal, burnt hazelnut
shells and burnt grain. We recovered several pebble tools from these
deposits, quite a few sherds of Iron Age pottery, fragments of broken
crucible (complete with molten copper-alloy deposits), and a very
unusual green cylindrical glass bead. We await Fraser Hunter's word on
this one at the National Museums of Scotland. At first glance he thought
it may be Roman! It may also be La Tene, from Northern Europe.

We now await the outcome of our funding bid to Historic Scotland for
the 2008/09 fieldwork season and what should be a very busy year on
site. Hopefully, we will be successful in attracting funding for another
two years, by which time we will have spent enough time attempting to
unravel the function of the High Pasture Cave site and how it fits into
the wider prehistoric landscapes of Skye. It will then be time to
complete the post-excavation analysis and bring together our data for
publication sometime around 2012.

Steven Birch

A Spanish Holiday

At the end of September, Carol and Julian Walford, Pete Ireson, Derek
Pettiglio, Chris Warwick and Chris's friends John & Fiona and Gareth &
Aileen went off to Ronda (about 90 minutes drive from Malaga) for a
week's caving holiday. This was the trip that had been planned by the
late Mark Campbell. The primary purpose of the trip was to complete the
4.5 km through trip of the Hundidero-Gato river cave, but there were
several other small horizontal and vertical caves in the area to visit.
Our accommodation on the outskirts of Ronda was a villa in an orchard
with figs and walnuts ripe for the picking and a swimming pool and
barbecue area to lounge round in the evenings (and a garage to keep the
caving gear in). A very comfortable place and we raised a congratulatory
glass (or several) to Mark for having found it.

On Day One, we visited two small caves, located within 100 metres of
each other and only 20 minutes walk from the road, though it took us
well over an hour to find them, due to use of the wrong GPS datum. The
second cave, in particular, was worth a visit, with a final shallow lake
chamber festooned with pretties. On Day Two, all nine of the party
(including Fiona who doesn't like being underground) successfully
completed the Hundidero-Gato through trip. The system is HUGE, with a
few short drops into deep pools at the start, followed by lots of
walking and long swims in deep water. Some of the party had buoyancy
aids, others (who hadn't) nearly drowned under the weight of their
tackle bags. But we all popped out into sunshine at the far end after
just over four and a half hours. It was agreed by all except by Fiona to
have been a superb trip. Chris and Derek did it again on the last day of
the holiday, this time with no tackle since you can jump or slide down
fixed ropes into all the pools, and this cut the transit time down to
two and a half hours, though the record for the through trip currently
stands at 57 minutes!! Other vertical and horizontal caves were visited
later in the week, but were disappointingly short albeit well-decorated.

On non-caving days, there was plenty to do. We did some excellent
local walking, including bagging the highest local peak from which we
saw the Moroccan High Atlas and Gibraltar. This walk took us through
some excellent karst scenery and allowed us to pay our respects at the
entrance to the biggest vertical system in the area (the 1100m deep Sima
GESM). And we got eyed up by griffon vultures, who come to check whether
you're ready to eat if you sit down for any length of time. We did a
"canyon" (actually a V-sided valley with a muddy stream in the bottom,
only classed as a canyon trip because it starts down a 51 metre
waterfall). Real canyoning would be fun, but there are probably better
streamway descents than this one to be found in Assynt! And we spent a
day exploring the historic town of Ronda with its Roman and Moorish
walls and ancient bridges over the gorge. Eating out was interesting and
the large local supermarket had plenty of things for Julian to
incinerate in the evenings.

We had a very good holiday, but this is not the place to go if you
want a hard caving trip every day. Having said that, the Hundidero-Gato
through trip was superb, and if you're into the serious vertical stuff
the Sima GESM would be a suitable challenge (but has to be booked).

Carol Walford

A Mammoth Carving

Two GSG members have been making the headlines recently. Graham
Mullan and Linda Wilson found a carving of mammoth in Gough's Cave,
Cheddar. It is thought to be 13,000 years old as mammoth ivory of that
age had previously been found in the cave. It is in a shallow alcove
near to the usual tourist route and has now been lit by the show cave to
make the carving more obvious. Erosion made the markings easy to
overlook, though once they have been pointed out they are plain to see.

After Cheswell Crags in 2003 and Long Hole, Cheddar Gorge in 2005
this is only the third time prehistoric cave art has been found in the
UK. Now cavers are aware of the possibility there could be more to find,
though looking at the examples so far they won't be easy to spot. Now
who wants to examine the Bone Caves for a freehand sketch of a polar
bear chasing a reindeer?

A French Holiday

Bob & Rosemary Jones and Bristol members Graham Mullan and Linda
Wilson spent a fortnight in the Perigord area of France where Graham &
Linda are currently building a house. In between house building and
general touristing they managed a few caving trips including La Reille
(familiar to several GSG members from previous visits)

A visit was also made to Grotte de Roffy, a very pretty cave which
has been known for over 300 years. Hint : if trying to locate the
entrance to this cave (marked clearly on the IGN map) read the Perigueux
Speleo Club description first. It tells you that the entrance is not at
the position marked on the map.......

Bob Jones

Hidden Earth (2008)

For 44 years there has been a national caving conference in Britain,
held in the early autumn in England - ideally somewhere geographically
central. Since the 1980s, the GSG has consistently had a small presence
there, on several occasions providing a club stand (winning the stand
competition twice), and intermittently delivering lectures on Scottish
caving progress.

I myself have been going to the conference since 1963 and I nowadays
feel something of a loner. Despite a respectable member-presence, thanks
to our English `branch', and the important technical support provided by
Fraser Simpson, Scotland has been poorly represented. Having been asked
to host the final plenary session again this year I took the opportunity
to make a stern plea for more active cavers to attend, more clubs to be
represented with stands, and more UK input (there were only three
British lecture subjects this year if one disregards AVs and DVD shows).
All this because it is very evident that the regulars are getting
noticeably older.

Everyone can benefit from Hidden Earth, but we need cavers to turn up
regardless of whether they are fresh back from the latest `wow factor'
expedition or not, to swell the numbers, make the whole thing more
economically viable, and generally to network and socialise.

Can I make a plea therefore, that next year and on into the future,
we organise a healthy Scottish contingent. It is strongly rumoured that
the conference will be coming to the north of England in 2008, thus
cutting down travelling time. One weekend out of 52 should not be an
imposition and you will enjoy it. There are SRT and ladder races,
photographic competitions, cheap bar prices on site, hosts of talks,
traders' stands and much more. Let's do it!


Sid Perou - Films on DVD

While at Hidden Earth 2007 Alan bought some DVDs from Sid Perou to
fill gaps in the GSG library. Many of Sid's DVDs are available in your
local caving shop (if you live in Ingleton, Mendip or Derbyshire), but
you can also buy them direct. Right now for special price of a tenner
each you can buy any of Sid's excellent productions and that include
postage and packing. Just send your cheque to Sid at 8 West lane,
Embsay, Skipton, BD23 6QE with a list of the films you want. Here are a

  • Lost river of Gaping Gill (1970), Breakthrough (1983), 100 Years of
    Exploration 1997
  • MAN BIONG HOLE BILONG STONE Account of the 1975 British Expedition to
    New Guinea
  • REALM OF DARKNESS (1980-1983 -52 mins)
    Hidden Depths of Mexico, Hollow Mountain of Mulu, Forbidden Secrets
    of the Cigalere, Drowned River of Dracos, Otter Hole, Caves of Glass
  • "CAVING IS A SERIOUS BUSINESS" (3 short comedy films on DVD) Includes:-
    Off White and the Seven Dwarfs (2007- 16mins),

    You Bet (2006- 4 mins), Tribute to Gerry (2005- 4 mins)

  • CAVE DIVING STORY (1987-88 - Each DVD 2 half hours) - Parts 1&2, Parts
  • BENEATH THE PENNINES (1976-7 - 27 mins)
    Pippikin Pot, Lancaster Hole, White Scar, Dow Cave, Alum Pot

    Sunday at Sunset Pot (B&W) (1967 - 27 mins),
    Hard Decisions at Sleets Gill (40 mins - 2006 re-edit)

Plus more there isn't room to list on caving, climbing, and ballooning,
Contact Sid for the full list.

2007 Meets and Events

See the events page for details.

The Caving Secretary, Ross Davidson, wants your help to create the
meets list, especially for caves that need to be booked. Contact him
with your suggestions.

NAMHO Conference 2008

The GSG is an affiliated club member of this, the National
Association of Mining History Organisations so, when they operate in
Scotland, we should really do our bit to assist. Every year they hold a
national conference and over the weekend of 11-13th July 2008 this will
be held at the Scottish Mining Museum, Newtongrange. The event will
consist of lectures, seminars and field trips. It is expected that over
100 delegates will attend.

After consultation with the GSG committee, I have offered our
services as guides on a variety of field trips on both Saturday and
Sunday - with possible longer distance visits by keener delegates
during the following week. Therefore, we need a good number of members
to make themselves available over this weekend. As a taster, I listed
for them a selection of mines (see below) which are accessible from
Edinburgh in a reasonable time frame and which offer a spectrum of
difficulties to suit all tastes. I would be grateful if members could
look at this and decide which mine(s) they could help with - bearing
in mind that I would expect simultaneous field trips in order to keep
party numbers to a sensible level. Some of these might be surface trips

Please give this matter consideration and diary the dates to avoid
'double bookings'. Further details on the conference will doubtless be
issued ere long and GSG members will be welcome to attend any lectures.

Alan Jeffreys


  • Birkhill Fireclay Mine (into smaller mines not open to the public)
  • Cults Limestone Mine, Fife
  • Bowden Hill Mine, W Lothian
  • Leven Seat Mine, W Lothian
  • Hillhouse Mine, Beecraigs
  • Hilderston 'Silver' Mine, W Lothian
  • Linhouse Water Shale Mine, W Lothian
  • Alva Silver Mines, Clackmannan
  • Whitequarries/Philpstoun Shale Mines, West Lothian

Possible surface trips:

Trabrax -Shale Oil relics ; Open cast mining, Fife ;
Geological Library, Kings Buildings

Possible 'Distant' Trips:

Tyndrum Lead Mines; Wanlockhead/Leadhills area;
Craiglea Slate Quarry, Perthshire

Membership News

The two new members since July are:-
Johann Fleury & Malika Friche - from Switzerland. Johann has caved for
ten years and is a member of a Swiss rescue team. Malika has caved for
three years.

New Addresses

Matthew Hutson,
Julian Warren

Other Changes

Robin Forrest, email;
Jerry Ingram, Tel mobile;
Colin Jamieson, email;
Nigel Marsh, email;
Martin Mills, Tel work;
Mark Tringham, email.

  • David Robinson and Suzie Peggie were married at a humanist ceremony
    on Saturday 8th September. GSG members attending commented that it was
    the first wedding they'd attended where the best man was a woman! It was
    held at Dalmunzie House, Spittle of Glenshee in the open air on a fine
    day. Everyone had a great weekend and enjoyed an excellent meal and
    'bash' after the ceremony.
  • Carol Dickson spent a week on Skye helping at the High Pasture Cave
    dig. She found the much corroded iron object mentioned in Steve's report
    on page 5. It could be a dagger.
  • Hibsy (Hiba Aboulhosn) let her membership lapse last year when she
    returned to Lebanon. She sends her love to all cavers and reports "All
    is good on my side. I decided to stay in Lebanon and happy here...
    Working full time in an Animation Company and also teaching part time in
    the American University, giving "Design in the
    Environment" studio-courses to Landscape Architects.

    By the way I've also decided to take the responsibility of being the
    training coordinator of my Caving Club, I've developed a new beginners'
    training and some of us, the experienced ones, are also working on a
    rescue training program that I've set up in March, and will end in Dec.
    By then we should have quite an efficiently trained Rescue Team :)

    You should organise a trip to Lebanon sometime soon. Lots of great
    caves not to be missed here ;)

Elphin Caving Centre

The autumn mouse migration season is upon us. That's the time of year
when the local mouse population decides that it would prefer the inside
of our hut to the weather outdoors. To counter this we set traps in both
lofts. Last weekend there were four corpses when we arrived, two the
following day and one the day after. Please check the traps when you
arrive, dispose of any bodies, and re-bait and reset them. Chocolate is
recommended as bait over cheese, but it is too brittle to attach to most
traps and the body count proves that cheese does work.

p> The first theme meal of the season was Mexican on the day of the
joint SCRO/AMRT exercise. Twenty-seven sat down to dine split between
the conservatory and the main room. Peter Dowswell did his usual magic
in the kitchen orchestrating a band of helpers and serving up an
excellent repast. Malcolm McConville arrived with a bottle of tequila,
another of something greenly suspicious, some orange juice to give a
veneer of healthy drinking and served up several sore heads.

Hut fees are L5.00 per night for non-members and L2.50 for GSG,
Bradford 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

If you want to stay in the hut at any time please contact the Hut
Warden - Peter Dowswell - to check if there will be space (01463 229250,
hutbookings # There will usually be a few bunks spare if
large groups are staying. Even if all bunks are occupied the bed-settees
by the fire are recommended and spare mattresses in the front bunk room
can be used in the conservatory.

Assynt News

  • The Alt's Opening Hours - The usual winter opening time for the Alt
    will be 5pm from Monday to Friday and 12:30 pm at weekends. Mike did
    indicate that this might change if circumstances demand (eg a horde of
    thirsty cavers at the door) or by pre-arrangement.
  • House for Sale - With landscaping work still in progress a 'For
    Sale' sign has appeared on the new house opposite the hut. So if you
    have £180,000 (or more) to offer and want to live in Assynt this is
    your chance. It has a really good view of Taigh nam Famh and would make
    an ideal residence for any future GSG Hut Warden.
  • Cave Rave Cancelled! - Initial proposals to hold a late night dance
    in Smoo Cave during the John Lennon Northern Lights Festival in Durness
    were cancelled when the organisers were asked to assess the risk of
    rockfall caused by loud music. However the cave did remain one of the
    main locations and other events continued as planned including Mr Boom
    the well-known children's entertainer (never heard of him - Ed) and
    John Lennon's original group - The Quarrymen.
  • The 7th European Geopark Conference was held in the Macphail Centre
    in Ullapool in mid-September. This is in the North West Highlands
    Geopark - Scotland's first geopark stretching from the Summer Isles to
    Durness. The conference included field trips and the programme included
    visits to the Bone Caves and Smoo Cave. Initially there was talk about
    the GSG helping with the field trips and attending the conference, but
    nothing came of the former probably because the part-time organisers
    just didn't have the time. We have learnt that we may be invited to join
    the Geopark's Stakeholders Group to represent the interests of the caves
    and cavers. This would be right up our street and we await the knock on
    the door. For geopark information see:-

Internet Caving

It is worth lurking on the
forum regularly as you can
discover useful titbits. One recent discovery is that at
there is a "legal, full window,
1:50K map browser for the whole of the UK. These maps have been
reprojected from UKOS to Mercator (WGS84) so the grid squares are not
square and the grid is not horizontal/vertical on screen. Nevertheless
this gives a bigger view and less peripheral junk than any of the map
viewers on the OS web site."

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