Following several years of non-speleological activities in County Clare the club finally managed to get itself together long enough to obtain a bus from the union and actually take some caving gear. The night of June 23 saw the gradual accumulation of a motley crew of adventurers at Glyngorse:
The first stop was Carmarthen for a useful training session for the less experienced members, the pubs here being open all day Saturday. At 7pm we moved on to Fishguard for more advanced training. The novices learnt fast but just couldn't match the stamina of some of the more veteran members. The first disaster of the trip was a lack of draught Guinness on the boat so the training had to end. While most members grabbed some sleep Fenton and Bunce watched over their slumbering forms strewn around the bar, waiting for the cry "Man the bilge pumps" when the predicted disaster1 struck. By some unexplained twist of fate the disaster was narrowly averted and we landed safety on Irish soil, and in the passing of what seemed like only six hours we were back in the Ritz, Lisdoonvarna. Settled in, the Apocalypse board was set up and the afternoon was spent in happy destruction2. This was followed by an evening of cricket before bad light stopped play and we adjourned to O'Donaghues.
Monday saw the first day of caving with a massed assault on Faunaroooska in several groups, preceded and followed by visits to O'Donaghues. This set the pattern for the first week—drinking, cricket, Apocalypse and short, but daily trips underground including Pollnagollum, Cullaun 2, Pollapooka and a dig in the same area, Coolagh River and Doolin. Nikki Horton arrived during the week and introduced us to some of the locals which lead to one of the trips highlights—Beyond the Grave3.
On previous trips to Clare we had heard much about the Friday night disco at the Hydro Hotel in Lisdoonvarna but due to lack of transport we had never been able to get there and thus it had achieved some legendary status. Now however, armed with the minibus, was our chance. Ten of us finally set off and as both drivers were drinking we had a night of misery in the bus to look forward to. There was only one solution! We started in the Imperial as they were supposed to be selling half price drinks in a new bar. This was in fact only till 9pm... it was then 8:55. Everybody immediately ordered 3 pints just as the barrel ended. By the time a new one was ready it had gone 9 and we were charged full price. We ended up with thirty pounds worth of Guinness sitting on the table. Finally 11 O'clock arrived and we decided the time was right, after two years this was it—TO THE HYDRO. I It was 2 pounds to get in so we didn't bother. Down the road we found a still open door and waved to the others whereupon a 'bouncer' appeared. "I decide who comes in here". The others appeared at this point and he said "In you come". A dark corridor lead to a large back room full of people bopping to a 3-piece combo in the corner pumping out R'n'R. We staggered out 3 hours later and Wendy decided she could still drive. Still, we all seem to be alive.
Hangovers were strangely absent the following morning and ten set out for Coolagh River, however the appearance of a single cloud in the sky put 6 of them off the idea and they went off to do Doolin. Both trips were uneventful except for getting John to fall in Batcombe's pot (Coolagh River) twice. Leaving the cave we walked into Lisdoonvarna and meeting a farmer on the way asked him how far it was, "Oh you'll be about half way there now." despite not knowing where we had come from.
Saturday night was spent in Nikki's hut before moving down to Doolin and camping on the island outside McGann's bar. Life continued in much the same vein as before with increased drinking (see table 1). Due to closer proximity to the bar, further trips were made to Callaun 5 Pollcregarth and Doolin. Coolagh River was visited by some of the six who had backed out before despite the fact it was raining.
Wednesday morning arrived—time to go. We had a last pint, packed the bus, had another last pint and set out for a night on the piss in Dublin with Nikki. The following morning was spent visiting several museums in search of an axolotyl before returning to Rosslaire.
2 Apocalypse, 1982, C.A. Bunce. Thrutch Vol.8
3 Tomb Gloom, 1983, D.M. Fenton. Thrutch Vol.8
The strangest (!) character and richest man in O'Donaghues 5 Bar, Fanore, Michael was his name. He confided that a nearby ancient tomb contained vast amounts of gold and asked if we could help smuggle it to London. We were told a metal detector was available to locate the ingots but needed the services of a 'scientist' to repair it. Hywel fitted the bill but when the 'meedal dedector' arrived it was working anyway.
Avoiding the 'faires and banshees' which Michael warned us about we set off early. A massive procession with Michael, Joe- the owner of the meedal dedector, the scientist and Nikki in the lead. The rest of us carried helmets, cells, ropes etc. The first person in had a job to turn round, the 'tomb' was so small. As for the gold there was no sign at all, still we were within 5 minutes of the bar and it was good to see the richest man in fanore living in squalor.
Took a housepainters ladder along, totally ruining the roof of Abdul's car. The idea was to gain access to places high in the walls—a sort of poor man's maypole—rather risky as the ladder usually leant against rotten timbers and deads but a good trip. A length of rope is essential for pulling the ladder up and down in stopes etc.
Climbed to the top of "Rheidol slag" on a mainly sightseeing tour, but were overcome by digging fever and found ourselves scraping with hands and sticks at a small surface collapse. Eventually had a body-sized hole into which 'Ripper' Hurst crawled wearing only his Y-fronts and carrying only a torch. He returned 1 minute later having bottomed this massive system.
May 23—N.E. of Machynlleth
Featured the longest belay ever—100' of rope tied to the entrance. 100' in is a 200' pitch leading to a large stope system. We must go back sometime.
Sod-all, all the shafts rubbish-filled.
Up by the railway. Just above it is a horribly loose slope. Further in the initials G.C.C. were found—Guildford Caving Club? Lower down by the river is an excellent waist-deep adit but beware the shaft 200' in!
Down a shaft upslope from the railway station. Didn't go right down but did find 2 large buckets in the first level down.
A level near Penygeulan Shaft. Dug for about 2 hours but little progress. It was near here that Beads and Dave Corbett were buried alive—unfortunately no report in the log-book.
Loads of Aber geologists running about, one had laid a turd in an adit which we went in.
Again; really abortive. Whole day spent digging and trying to light a stove for some tea.
This jaunt turned out to be quite a pleasant trip as much as from the scenic journey involved in finding the mine—along miles and miles of forest road in the Hafren Forest—as from the scale of the accessible workings underground. This mine is noted by Bick as one of the most isolated workings in Cardiganshire. Although an old mine (worked circa 1750 by Lewis Morris) its most active period of working wasn't until well into the 19th century (1845–1895) This mine principally worked blende during this period and has since been noted by S.J.Hughes for the remains of a 'kehrrad' or underground water powered hoist or windlass reputed to tie at the end of the tower adit level. The oldest workings of the mine lie to the west of the tributary fork of the Avon Cria.
The trip was a Sunday Glyngorse mining adventure consisting of Hywel and Dino, Mark, Sarah. and myself in the back of the Hywelmobite. However due to the inclement weather or else thick heads resulting from a mild dose of alcohol poisoning in the party, there was more interest shown in a damming project on one of the tributaries of the mine than in underground exploration. Strange things were seen amongst the spoil heaps of this, the most isolated mining venture in Ceredigion. What more likely place to find the bottom half of a garden lawnmower? Such a wonder as this left the rest of the party stunned. and after the next bout of rain the underground party was reduced to three when Messrs. Hywel and Dino retired to the more gentlemanly pursuit of reading the Sunday papers.
Meanwhile, donning boiler suits, we trecked up the right fork of the stream. The main haulage level at the bottom has a nice pit-propped entrance, but was impassible due to an entrance collapse. We found four adit entrances higher up close to the stream. One was a trial and one a shallow stope, was collapsed and filled in. The lower of the other two had a 50' winze about 70' in (presumably to the lower adit) and what looked like a collapse beyond. With our limited equipment, the top adit looked a safer bet. This entered the top of quite a large underground stope after a short distance, and after a 25' ladder pitch it was possible to walk down the stope over massive precarious boulders. There were two interesting little climbing shafts at either end, walled with perched deads and wood. However, with only one 25' ladder left we had to choose the tower of the two. With a little bit of free climbing thrown in. this dropped through the roof of the middle adit level. Quite a pretty level, with lots of black manganese "wad", white hydrocyanite and ochre on the walls. Boxheads on the right hand side of the rails (this was one of the haulage adits) dropped into another large stope beneath. At several points there were possibilities of abseiling down the footwall of the stope—presumably to the tower adit (70-100' down?). Without any more tackle, we had to content ourselves with exploring the furthest extent of the middle adit. This actually reached the fall just inside the middle adit entrance by the stream bank and was passable after all—Sod's Law! However I proceeded to run off about 24 frames of a film and enjoy myself immensely with "H"'s flashgun before climbing back up into the upper workings. We arrived back on the surface to find that hours had passed and that Hywel and Dino were searching for us, in the wrong adit, supposing us lost or held hostage by the "knockers" in the bowels of the earth.
A trip to be repeated sometime, with a few more people and a lot more ladder and rope.
The usual trip was again held at Cerberus between Christmas and New Year. This time with Hywel, Chris, Cara, Nikki, Wendy, 2×Fentons and Bunce. We gathered at the hut during the Tuesday afternoon after Christmas. Eventually talk came around to caving and Fairy Cave was chosen, mainly for its proximity. Having got changed we were then told that the key was locked in a cupboard for which none had the key. Undaunted we reached for the guide book again. As it was getting dark we finally chose Swildon's but by this time the party had grown to enormous proportions swelled by a motley ASSortment of other cavers. Every possible route through the entrance series must have been used as we swarmed down the cave. We regrouped at the 1st pitch and then marched on down to the sump where some of the more foolhardy members continued for a short distance. The evening was spent in deep philosophical discussion in the Hunter's and the Duke's reading rooms, and was only notable for Stayte's unprovoked attack on a defenseless Bunce during an insane run back to the hut, and by Lant's subsequent throwing up.
The following day was spent attempting the world long-jump record in Wells and astounding the innocent people of Glastonbury with our football skills white climbing the Tor before returning to the Duke.
Wednesday saw a successful if somewhat damp trip down Longwood Swallet before returning to the Duke.
By Thursday only Hywel, Chris and Bunce had stayed the course and we returned to Swildon's to attempt the round trip. This passed easily enough up to Double Trouble Series—a couple of ducks, these were bailed and passed, leading to another duck! Search for another route failed so we went through. This led after a short distance to yet another duck at which point we began to wonder if we were on the right route but pressed on regardless. Each duck had been bailed less and less so this one remained a real "nose int' crack of t'roof" However, soon after we found the route to the main stream down a long slide, which left only the sump before we were soon back on the surface.
The last day was spent in Bath where we located the famous snuff shop before going our separate ways.
Suddenly the monster reared up in front of its next victim. It towered high above the hedge beside the road leading back to the safety of the hut. Its silvery fur glistened in the light of the full moon, but was matted with the crimson blood of its previous victims. Here and there small pieces of human flesh adhered to its huge form. A blood curdling cry rent the night air calculated to strike terror into the heart of any mortal. But the monster had made a terrible error in the selection of its next victim, for this was the fearsome Stayte. He had spent years of training for such occasions—his feet were now lethal weapons ready for anything, but were of course only used for self-defense.
The snow monster rumbled slowly forward, the agile Stayte being able to dodge and weave between the mighty sweeps of its powerful arms. Suddenly Stayte leapt forward and his feet flashed faster than the eye could see cutting the monster to the ground. The monster was indeed surprised, but quickly recovered its senses and tried to stand up again. It seemed to have great difficulty in this and once upright it looked down and realised why. It now had only one leg, where the other one had been was only a gaping wound, the blood pouring out. The monster gave out a ear splitting scream of pain and lumbered after Stayte. Stayte realising his feet had failed him cracked up, reduced to gibbering wreck. Fortunately the delay had given Bunce enough time to return to the hut and grab the nuclear warhead arrows and niobium bow. Taking careful aim he fired. There was a huge flash and the monster vanished—or had it merely escaped into St Dunstan's. It wasn't the end of Stayte however—killer feet in the control of a madman! He made his first attack on the innocent Bunce while returning to the hut, cutting him down to the gravel of the roadside—when would he strike next.
Friday night was enlivened by the sight of Underwood and Phil changing ready to do Daren Cilau, the later putting on a brand-new wetsuit, poor bastard. They made their mistake while in the hut, asking Bunce to show them the entrance. The guide returned and told us they had gone into Ogof Pen-Eryr instead after ignoring his instructions. Underwood said the next morning he couldn't see what all the fuss about Daren Cilau was about, refusing to accept he hadn't done it.
- Hywel unable to find the way on from Baron's Chamber.
- Doug couldn't find the way home from the pub.
- The absolute horror of Eglwys Faen on Sunday, including a flat-out crawl into a 100mph wind which blew large stones into our faces. The trip was so apathetic we only did half the system. However I did see my first underground dog.
- Mud Mine/Fell Swoop—Probably the greatest system in S. Wales, why isn't it better publicised? Within 200 yards of the hut just follow the vacuum-cleaner. When you come to the right-turn stand up and climb into the eye-level passage. You are now within 5 minutes of the gours, but a miserable 5 minutes it is. It is best not to try and cross half way along the passage as Underwood will tell you (still sterile John?). Pam, H, and myself all managed to fit into the gour passage at once without touching the sides. Returning happy and exuberant we planned our next visit to Mud Mine.
Health Warning Don't ever buy FINE FARE light ale again.
0500 hours, Saturday morning, 6 March—most of Central Europe was a decimated nuclear wasteland. Another multistage nuclear missile was fired into the heart of an unexpecting army who were instantly vapourized. The war had been raging since 2300 hrs. the night before and no victor was yet forthcoming. Countless battles had been fought and millions of innocent citizens mercilessly wiped out. The six commanders—Fenton, Hywel, Neil, H, Carruthers and Bunce showed no concern for this terrible waste of human life but agreed to call a temporary ceasefire for the rest of the night and retired to discuss strategy and button anatomy.
A few hours later the walls of Bullpot Farm were once again echoing to the horrifying explosions of nuclear warheads. Many more defenseless citizens were mercilessly blown away before we decided maybe we should go underground. H discovered he had forgotten his wetsuit socks so had to improvise using two plastic bags, as his wetsuit was also in a sorry state of repair he produced a cotton sheet from somewhere and started plugging the holes. Looking up at the rain swept moors the rest of us followed suit covering as much exposed skin as possible. So looking like a cross between a bunch of scarecrows and a lost Arab nomadic tribe we set off to County Pot.
The trip was an uneventful one down to Easter Grotto where I took some photos, Neil managed to get lost on the moor arriving 30 minutes after everybody else. Following a short interlude for food the warheads were rearmed and another European Nuclear War commenced. But what the alcohol? I hear you ask and rightly so. Aware of the isolated position of Bullpot Farm prior provision had been made by the purchase of several bottles of whisky, Hogarth Gin (and Hogarth knew a thing or two about gin) and other assorted intoxicating beverages. Again war raged long into the night with little result, and was continued the next morning.
Hywel and myself decided to do Lancaster Hole about noon and the others set out to Kirby Lonsdale for more beer. Once changed we found the long rope was still in the other car. Chasing after them we finally found them in the 'Snooty Fox'. Back to the pitch it was descended without problem and followed by some photos at the Colanades and a stroll along the main passage before self-lifelining out the pitch.
While I must congratulate you on continued production of this much esteemed journal, I feel I must also point out an error of the greatest magnitude in Thrutch Vol.7. This occurs on page 6 in the article entitled "The Cwmrheidol Slurry Bath or The Ochre Pit Break-Through" describing a trip to Cwmrheidol main adit which succeeded in pushing back the frontiers of exploration in this significant of mines and provided a vast amount of new information on the geology and the social history of the area. A trip on which I consider myself greatly blessed to have participated. I am sure it will now be apparent to your readers that it is most important to record all the facts correctly and will excuse me writing. I only hope that there is no delay in the publication of this letter in Vol.8 before the incorrect information is used in someone else's research.
The error occurs on line 10 where it states that having only one pair of pants with me (which is correct) I decided to wear these on the trip into the mine. This is a gross misrepresentation of the facts. The reality of the matter was that despite having to wear the wetsuit of a certain H.C. Davies which was arseless, I decided to keep the pants dry for the ride home. I hope this will clear up the matter and prevent any further confusion.
A NEWT that had spent the last 90 years in an anabiotic state has come back to life in the Magadan Region in the USSR'S north east.
It had been taken from a depth of some 36 feet—but the find is not particularly rare there.
Miners and geologists often extract newts from the permafrost, which revive after thawing.
It seems that newts prepare for the winter cold by processing all glycogen in their bodies into glycerin, which freezes at much tower temperatures than ordinary substances. The newts have therefore saturated their tissues with anti-freeze, which keeps them in a state of suspended metabolism until they are warmed.
Since my discovery of the seven parts of the button while at Bull Pot Farm last year (ref. Log Book 2), many have failed to remember the correct sequence when naming the component parts. It was while preparing a short guide to the seven parts to prevent newcomers from making errors that I cast a cursory glance over the button I carry with me for demonstration purposes. Imagine my amazement when I saw a hitherto unnoticed part nestling against the RUDD. When I came to my senses I struggled to find a name for my find. Consulting my first edition of "Olde Nobbo's Button Taxonomy", I eventually settled for UMPOULE. The next problem was where to place this in the naming sequence. After rotating the button anti-clockwise in a beam of infrared light the truth was revealed. If the button is of the RUNCIBLE type, UMPOULE comes sixth, otherwise seventh as shown below:
Mel Humphreys' Club Accounts—1980-81
A fascinating insight into the way the great man worked. Including for the first time in print the famous lines:
- "To Mel Humphreys—Parking at Brecon 10p."
- "To Mel Humphreys—Expenses for Thrutch, time and trouble".
The Simon Hughes Book Of Warts
Dermatological delights from an authority who really knows his subject at first hand. Also the tragic testimony of a first-year caver who borrowed a pair of the author's Y-fronts for a mining trip and still visits the clinic every week.
The People's Committee Manifesto
Vital reading for all cavers who may wish to seize the power positions in their club. With a special foreword by D. Carruthers.
British Bat Care
The epic story of a young Welshman's love for a broken cricket bat. (Sadly now destroyed again by a drunken Fenton—Ed.)
- First published 1982.
- This digital edition published on the World Wide Web June 2010. This volume was scanned/typed by Andrew Barnes and edited by Rich Smith. Hard copy courtesy of South Wales Caving Club.
© 1982, 2010 Aberystwyth Caving Club