Thrutch Volume 10 May 1985

The Journal of Aberystwyth Caving Club.
  1. Editorial
  2. Darren Trip 12.5.1984
  3. Darren Trip 15.5.1984
  4. Annual General Meeting 16.5.1984
  5. North Wales Trip 19–21.6.1984
  6. Ireland Expedition 24.7–9.8.1984
  7. South Wales Trip 22–23.8.1984
  8. Carmarthenshire Trip 4–7.9.1984
  9. BCRA Conference Trip 29-30.9.1981
  10. Deformation Processes Observed in Graduate Cavers
  11. Cwmorthin Slate Mine
  12. Announcements
  13. Revised Constitution 1983
  14. Current Hierachy


Printed on 10th May 1985 on the campus of U.C.W. Aberystwyth & published on 16th May 1985 by Aberystwyth Caving Club.

Hello, and welcome to Thrutch Volume 10! Unfortunately it's been a full year since the last volume, but better late than never etc.. Firstly let me apologise for the drastically curtailed content of this issue, but the minor matter of finals claimed priority over the the prospect of a couple of weeks of two-finger typing (in fact, surveying Cwmrheidol or any other hell-hole could easily claim precidence over the task of typing Thrutch!).

The lack of time has ment that a cut off date had to be applied, in this case it was a long way back—nine months to be exact. It is therefore intended to produce one or even two fill-in copies of Thrutch to fill in the gap of October 1st 1984 to date. When these will appear is anyones guess, but (at the moment) I have firm intentions of doing so.

The past year has seeh a marked increase in activity by the club; an occurrence not unconnected with the great increase in the number of active members. The club has run twenty day trips to local mines, and eight weekends to caving areas. (Certain factions have also been observed to be caving with other clubs, but we won't discuss this lack of loyalty). This year has also seen the production of our first ever T-shirt, designed by Alan and featuring a very un-pretty caver reaching through stals for a pint of Guinness.

Recently we commenced Volume 5 of the Log Book, though it is getting increasingly difficult to get people to scribble in the log (as usual)—if you don't write in the log then there's nothing to type for Thrutch; possibly a good thing too...

Articles planned for Thrutch Volumes 11 and 12 include:

  1. A continuation of "The Thrutch Guide to Caving Huts" (part 3);
  2. An historical sketch of the club, such as can be gleaned from the records held by the Union, old Log Books and past issues of Thrutch, and also incorporating reminisences by past Masters of the Lore.
  3. Accounts of all trips in the academic year 1984–5, and also the 1985 Ireland Expedition;
  4. A catalogue of the club library (which is now quite extensive).

If you have any ideas for articles of any (e.g. regarding equipment, trips, guides, reviews, "technical" articles, etc.) then please give your frenzied scribblings to the Thrutch Editor.

If there is enough demand, it will be poseible to produce compilations of certain past Thrutch articles—especially of:

  1. Caving Poetry (nine to date);
  2. "Scientific" and "Technical" papere (eight);
  3. Digs and surveys, including the series of articles on Cader Fawr, and Pollnaluchnacrua (ten to date);
  4. The club library catalogue, and also a list of speleological titles held by the Hugh Owen Library.

Anyway, let's hope next year is as good as this one; so keep up the caving, and keep the accounts rolling in;

Cheers Speleobods,

Rob xxx
In recent times we seem to have gained a bit of notoriety with Cerberus S.S. (I wonder why?), below are reproduced two articles from their journal, dealing with our trips of 11–13.11.83 and 10–12.2.84 respectively:

St. Dunstan's Cave Saturday 12th November

Yeovil Police alerted Brian Prewer at 8.06 p.m. because a caver had been reported as stuck in the squeeze before the sump. He had been jammed for two hours by that time. Four well equiped and wetsuited cavers associated with Aberystwyth University went down the cave at about 5.45 p.m. In following the rest to the sump, 25-year old Howard Davies inadvertently strayed off the main route and became firmly stuck by his hips in a bypass. He had attempted to descend a steeply inclined side rift head first. Fortunately, he could be approached from either end, but there was little room to help. Marie Roberts left the cave to raise the alarm.

Tim Large and Fiona Lewis were alerted and reached the Cerberus Cottage within ten minutes of the call out. Fred Davies arrived shortly afterwards. Other rescuers stood by at Priddy whilst Brian Prewer and Chris Batstone set out to establish a telephone line down the cave and a radio relay via Beacon Hill. Julie Wooton took messages near the entrance and Mike York was stationed on the road with a handset. Tim Large, Pete and Alison Hoody, Tony Jarrett, Pete Hann, Dean Fenton, Catherine Howarth and Bill Haynes carried in comforts and hauling gear. They were unable to free Davies after assisting for over an hour. At 9.45 p.m. they requested hammers and chisels to open up the passage. As the patient was now delirious and complaining of going numb, it was decided to call in Dr. Peter Glanvill who knew the cave well. Dr. Don Thompson was also informed and stood by on the surface. Additional kit was taken underground by Glyn Bolt with Bob Lewis, Al Keen and Sarah Bishop. Fred Davies and others already underground set about clearing the gravel to enlarge the Domestos Bend squeeze.

At 11.00 p.m. after the patient had been firmly stuck for five hours and was distressed, a message came out that was interpreted as a warning that a carbon dioxide build-up could be a danger; also, that a rock drill would probably be necessary to open up the rift. Jim Hanwell and Rich West took along heavy hauling gear and further medical supplies and it was decided to request a compressor from the Fire Service to clear the air and to provide drilling power. An appliance set out from Yeovil whilst Brian Workman and Dave Turner collected high pressure hose from NHASA. The rescuers underground continued chiselling and reached a point where the patient's belt could be cut away.

Dr. Peter Glanvill entered the cave at 11.30 p.m. followed by Kevin Clarke and Edric Hobbs with more medical supplies. The persistence of those underground eventually paid off and Howard Davies was freed at 11.45 p.m. He was able to help himself even though being stuck fast for nearly six hours and despite getting into quite a state. All were out of the cave by 12.40 a.m. Apart from rather ugly "instant bedsores" around his hips, Howard Davies was in surprisingly good spirits and much appreciated the help he had received.

...With the New Year the cottage has seen the visit of many student groups; the stars of the St.Dunstan's Rescue, Aberystwyth, returned in true chaotic style for an all day drinking session in Wells, most survived this, but the evening caused the casualty—one or their number, a certain Dino Fenton, was thought to be missing on the way back from the Duke, so Marie and H (St.Dunstan himself) set off on a search and rescue mission. Unfortunately Marie fell over and knocked herself out (or was it the alcohol?). H then returned to the cottage to gather a party of body haulers. As Marie was still unconscious after retrieval, an ambulance was called and she was taken off to Bath Hospital with H and Allison in attendance. With Marie safely deposited in the casualty department, H and Allison reverse-charge called a taxi to take them to a friend's flat. Said friend was duly woken up (it being 2 a.m. by now) and relieved of the taxi fare. All was well, or so they thought—at 4am the Hospital rang up to say that Marie had regained consciousness but was freaked out by the sudden change from being at the cottage to being in a casualty ward! Eventually she calmed down and peace was regained. Meanwhile back at the cottage it was found that Dino had been asleep upstairs, the strain of events was too much for some—Dave Eyre didn't notice that he was sitting on a sleeping student until he was told... Aber got their revenge on him for this by taking his rucsack away with them by mistake—a high speed chase eventually caught the minibus in Bath, where the students had spent the previous hour sitting in a graveyard! Perhaps they were contemplating their futures...

Darren Trip 12.5.1984


Re-opened Oliver's Level and semi-stabilised the entrance; covered it with a convenient dustbin lid. Very tight entrance into level.


Darren Trip 15.5.1984

Ralf & Abdul
  1. We abseiled a 50' pitch from the C14th cuts into Thomas Bushels stopes. We both tried squeezing past a shaft issueing rubbish until everything started moving.
  2. Perpendicular Shaft—10' down the shaft it looks blocked by a mini and putrifying sheep carcases, however Abdul assured me that I (note the wording) could squeeze through the wheel arch of the mini onto the pitch. It proved to be a brilliant free hang down a smooth circular shaft, but the lodged car looked most ominous from below. The rope wasn't long enough, so at about 65' I did a change over and came back up. Abdul went for a look but ran into a problem at 50' when his harness suddenly undid itself. After guite a long time a very white Abdul appeared from the mini.
  3. Coed Shaft—50' down at the Coed Level we started digging. We got into a constricted 45° incline in fallen rock. The digging technique was to pull blocks out of the roof until everything fell on your head, wiggle out and clear the fall. It became increasingly nerve wracking as you got all your body into the dig; this prompted a new technique—wriggle up, tie a rope round a nice big block, carefully squeeze out, and tug the rope. The results were very spectacular. Down at the next level we found a sledgehammer, wheelbarrow, water bottle, and a U.S. half dollar! A shaft through deads which should connect with Olivers Level was left until next time.

Annual General Meeting 16.5.1984

The umpteenth A.G.M. and Annual Dinner of the club turned out to be the best attended event of the year by far, with twenty three people turning out to grace the Downies Vaults and the Light Of Asia Indian Restaurant—many of them free-loaders and fellow travellers that are rarely ever seen at any other time.

Those present were:

H, Lira, Carruthers, Stayte, Sara, Ripper, Cathy, John, Rob, Alison, Vince, Marshall, Raif, Dai, Colin Ivory, Ian Dawes, Ieuan, Marc, Liz, Jenny, Doug, Martin, and Hillary

Minutes of Annual General Meeting of Aberystwyth Caving Club held at the Downies Vaults on 16th May, 1984 at 8.00 p.m.

  1. The minutes of the last A.G.M. were taken as read.
  2. Apologies were received from Ripper, Hillary, Liz; Tanya, Warren, Jenny, et al. for their absence (though some arrived shortly after).
  3. Voting on the new committee was as follows:
    Proposed Proposer Seconded Votes
    Jermy Stone (Postal) (Postal) 0
    Steve (Talbot) (Postal) (Postal) 2
    Sara Lira Chris 7 (and 22 postal)
    Doug H Ieuan 5
    Cathy Chris Lira 0
    Rob Dave Ieuan 0
    and 3 abstentions
    and 4 candidates
    Proposed Proposer Seconded Votes
    Doug H Ieuan 2
    Cathy Chris Lira 11 (and 7 postal)
    Rob Dave Ieuan 1 (and 15 postal)
    and 3 abstentions
    and 3 candidates
    and 1 absent
    Proposed Proposer Seconded Votes
    Rob Dave Ieuan 15 (and 15 postal)
    Cathy Chris Lira 0 (and 7 postal)
    and 4 abstentions
    and 2 candidates
    Lighting Officer
    Proposed Proposer Seconded Votes
    John Rob Lira 16
    Raif Alison John 5
    Chris Lira Rob 0
    Tackle Officer
    Proposed Proposer Seconded Votes
    Raif Lira Marshall 21
    Ieuan Lira Rob 0
    Switzerland Trip Organiser
    Proposed Proposer Seconded Votes
    Marc Lira Sara 17
    Alison Lira Martin 4
    Thrutch Editor
    Proposed Proposer Seconded Votes
    Rob Marshall Lira 21
    Social Secretary
    Proposed Proposer Seconded Votes
    Alison Lira Chris 21
    Minister Without Portfolio
    Proposed Proposer Seconded Votes
    Ieuan Alison Sara 21
    Publicity Officer
    Proposed Proposer Seconded Votes
    Ripper Lira H 21
  4. The following were voted Life Membership:
    • David Carruthers
    • Chris Stayte
    • John Underwood
    • Paul Grainger (Lira)
    • Doug Chamberlain
    • Ian Dawes
    • Colin Ivory
    • Hilary
    • Liz
    • Martin Peporal
    • Richard Marshall
  5. The following motions were voted upon:
    1. To change the venue for the annual dinner to the Talbot Hotel; proposed by Alison; DEFEATED.
    2. That H be made a God; proposed by Dino (by post); DEFEATED.
    3. That Alison be made a God; proposed by Bunce (by post); CARRIED.
  6. Any other business:
    1. Proposed to change the venue for dinners to the Chinese; proposed by Ieuan; DEFEATED.
    2. Proposed that Life Members be made to pay £2 for the privilege; proposed by Ieuan; DEFEATED.
    3. Proposed that the Secret Files be shown; proposed by Ieuan; CARRIED. (The Secret Files, shredded, were then presented to Ieuan).
    4. Proposed that the meeting adjourn to the Indian; proposed by Rob; CARRIED.
  7. The meeting was then closed, and all repaired to the Light of Asia for a wide variety of obscure dishes. When the meal had at last been finished, the speeches, toasts, etc. were begun. However, part way through, a desperate foray was made to the Talbot for last orders. The speeches continued there, courtesy of a lock-in by Steve.

    Stayte introduced Ian Dawes, the Master of Ceremonies with the following:

    Ian Dawes, our first speaker, is the short fat one over there. Mr. Dawes, in the twilight of his career as Rudler Club Treasurer has professed a burning or incinerating desire to run up a vast overdraft for the next year's treasurer, yes you've guessed it, Rob "can ye lend me a quid till I get my dividend through from the building society, honest" Jones, a man soon to be liable for Mr. Dawes' wardrobe and collection of suitors.

    Ian Dawes then stood to his full height, and began:

    Hello, President, mothers, men. This equinox the Lira cornered me and asked me to speak. "What on" I asked, and he gave me the title "How to be cute" and a story involving two people, string, a wheelbarrow and sex. I rejected this and was given the wider instructions to talk about anything, but don't mention inflatable dolls or Carruthers.

    Rob Jones spoke last time and spoke about himself, so after due consideration I dismissed the idea of talking about myself because it would be very short. Then I had a brainwave—I would keep the tradition and speak about Robert Protheroe Jones.

    How best to sum up such a man? Perhaps to list his qualities would be ths best way: a man who posses detirmination, who has a Dai-hard Welsh spirit, a man who irons his underpants. He can be observed in the library dertiminantly seeking those references which are truly irrelevant; it is this same dertimination that has him sleeping outside my door in the hope of a glimpse of the Rudler Club account books.

    The very dertimination which leads to Rob's success with women witness the Rock House parties where he trailed the object of his desires all night awaiting the correct circumstances (a dark corridor or small cupboard) for which to make his move. But when his move is made his victim scarely knows because of Rob's SUBTELETY—so subtle that when I asked a woman about him her reply was—Rob who? This subtle nature was highlighted by the Trefor Road Incident—it was several days before the landlady, Mrs. Jones, noticed his absence and lack of back-rent; subtle indeed.

    Thirdly, his wit, for he is a master of the well chosen phrase and deed. Rob is able to simplify any situation, for example Rock House: realising his situation was poor and that the girl was not answering his Welsh wooing, he stood and exclaimed the legendary phrase "I've embarrassed myself" and fell unconcious to the floor, his glazed eyes staring at the ceiling.

    Men have been felled by his turn of phrase, lines like "You owe me a pint", or "Where are the Rudler Club account books?" He suffers the problem of his lyrical accent masking the accuracy of his words, but in translation he bears the mark of a rapier-like mind.

    Finally his generosity, highlighted by the Tin of Biscuits in Trefor Road; Lira, Chris and Carruthers took one each; Stayte reached for a second, "How many do you want?" Rob cried, hiding and securely locking the tin.

    Such is the man; I give you a toast: Robert Protheroe Jones, a man about whom the Lira said "It must be admitted, he does speak with a very funny accent", may he never achieve the position of power he so hugely wants.

    Dawes then shifted his attention to H, the Master of the Lore:

    Some of you may note that the largest man in Wales looks somewhat nervous, perhaps due to the failure of group therapy to rid him of the PROBLEM. Many of you may have noticed H Has suddenly developed a police motorcycle escort who attempt to stop people jumping out past bushes and from under tables to touch his nipples.

    The Master of the Lore then spoke (as opposed to reading from 'Private Eye') in his speech of farewell:

    Soon my work on this Earth will be done and I must resign the post of Master of the Lore as thousands of my predecessors have done before me. To my sucessor I will reveal the secrets of the Golden Book of Dunstan which have been handed down through time immemorial. I seem to remember that amongst its pages you will find an account of a strange and wonderful mating way back in the mists of time between one of Dunstan's ancestors and a turtle. However, I'm glad to say that Duns tan appears to have escaped most of the side effects of this event.

    Then of course there is an account of a certain young, virile, handsome member of the club who broke certain hierachical laws back in the nineteenth century. Details of his fate at the hands of the then Master of the Lore, Sir Dunstan Bollocky-Davies are horrible to recount. It is sufficient to say that his later life was turned into a film starring John Hurt which many of you have seen.

    The Golden Book of Dunstan, of which I am the custodian, contains numerous curses and spells. The new Master of the Lore will be initiated I into the true secrete of the cause of the venerable Fenton, pederast to the King, and his anal itching, which will sadly follow him to his grave. Also revealed will be the truth behind young Mick Chilman's (once a member) circumcision; Hilary's nose; and Pete Berlin's (the old Jew) banishment to that place which cannot be named (although rumor has it that Sara was born there). In this last sad case I have recently relented and allowed him back into Britain for a few weeks to train him in certain practices involving lorries and embassies.

    It can also be revealed for the first time that certain accidents which have plagued the club (I refer to John, Stayte, and Marie) were caused by their failure to address me in a befitting manner ("Oh Wise One").

    Finally I last looked into the book this afternoon, and I learnt something of interest. It is virtually certain that Ieuan will be horribly maimed in a brush with a leopard (or Alisenus platus) next Monday at 3.40 p.m. unless he treats the President with some respect—as befits his position in the hierachy (somewhere near the bottom).

    In view of the fact that this will be my last address to the club as Master of the Lore, I will be handing out £5 notes on top of Pen Dinas tommorrow at five in the morning—all are welcome to attend.

    Doug, the outgoing Switzerland Trip Organiser, spoke next, cancelling the expedition as tradition demands.

    I don't like to brag about the dedication I poured into my office as Switzerland Trip Organiser over the last year, but I didn't even charge for the stamps for all the letters I've sent. However since I've not had a single reply, I'm afraid we'll have to, sadly, cancel the trip.

    This shows that life isn't a Basle (no, I didn't get this one either—Ed.); we'll have to watch out, and not Nestle in complacency, or get Cheesed off. Are we going to say it doesn't Matter-horn? or say we wern't Bern yesterday? We shouldn't Lucern our knot of Konstanz dertimination. Still, I'll Al-pine tor the trip I never had, especially as it's on today, Saint Dunstan's day that we'll have to abandon the hope of meeting Saint Bernard. Yes, I'm afraid we'll have to give up our hopes of a Rhone from home with the Gnomes. However, for next year's trip, you can pay me the deposit now if Zu-rich, it's only £300—just pay it into the Zurich bank account I'm opening after the meal.

    Then the Ripper arose, and gave a brief account of the Life of Saint Dunstan, as he has done (in exactly the same words) for the past three years.

    Dunstan was born, fourteen years later he began life in the holy orders. His most famous feat, for which he was canonised was this: one day whilst Duns tan was working at his forge, the devil came unto him in the shape of a scarlet woman, aye, a harlot. She tempted Dunstan with dirty words and the like, but Dunstan was not to be led astray. For while the devil tempted him, he was heating his tongs in the forge and when they were white hot he grabbed the devil by the nose with the tongs and cast her out, all the time uttering prayers to the good Lord, and curses—of mild language—to the devil. He died many years later after a long illness, and is now buried.

    The Master of Ceremonies rose again to introduce Alison, our new Social Secretary, with the following anecdote:

    At this point I waa supposed to launch into a long chapter of abuse regarding Miss Platt's similarity to a llama. However, regarding someone else's resemblance to, I quote, "a rat looking through a bog-brush", I shall shorten this to sharing the knowlege that in school Alison was known as a plattypus.

    After Alison's very brief few words, Mr. Chris Stayte, outgoing Secretary presented this years awards. Although fewer than in previous years, the abysmally low atandards that have made this club what it is (and I forbade to say what), were maintained as ever. A squeeky rubber turtle was presented to Dai, and at H's suggestion, a non-functioning preventative device was presented to John. Thence followed the rapid adjournment to the Talbot, where Dawes introduced

    Christopher "I only drink when I'm pissed" Stayte. Not a man noted for subtley, a trait undoubtly inherited from his mother who was apparantly going to christen young Chris as Christopher Robin.

    Then, Chris, taking the part of the Fool (from King Lear), began:

    But not quite, for observe, I the fool, preceed the King, and who is the greater fool, the fool, or he that follows the fool. (To Lira) How now, my King. (To audience again) You see the King, also see his son (points to Rob), and his daughters (points to Sara and Cathy).

    Ian Dawes next introduced the Lira, our out going President:

    And now to the President, the only man to single-handedly empty a Scottish offlicence together with his olefactory double.

    But first, although we cannot give you a god, we have a guest appearance from a King for as you all know the power of the club has been transferred this night to three new committee members. Most of this you may still be fooled under the wildly optomistic view that this was a democratic decision. Not a chance. Up until now, committee selection has been veiled in secracy, but tonight all is revealed as it happened earlier this month in room three, of twelve Trefor Road. Mark here comes the King.

    As is the tradition, this final speech of the President, Mr. Lira, K.C., N.B., S.U.C.E.R.(S.), B.Sc.(Pending) should be confined to seven words with one word of hia own choosing, following the pattern that has been passed down from generation to generation, of "All in all it's been a ("His Own Word") year." First however, a little diversion, starring Sara, Cathy, Rob, and... King Lira:

    King Lira Let it be known that I have devided my kingdom in three semi colon and apostrophy tis my fast intent to shake all cares and business from my life conferring them on younger strengths so that I unburdened can crawl towards death full stop tell me comma my children which of you shall we say doth love me most comma and so earn my largest bounty full stop what sayes my first born comma my dearest Robert Protheroe question mark

    Rob Sir, most noble President, I love you more than words can wield the matter, beyond all that can be valued rich and rare, dearer than eyesight, space and liberty. You have set new standards amongst Presidents; such high standards that rank you amongst the Gods—though heathens (looking at Alison) think not. Your speeches overflow with eloquent beauty; endowered with life, grace, health and honour—truely like yourself. And I gladly pay sixty-five pence for this years Thrutch, just to see them printed in their full glory. For all this, and beyond all manner of "so much" I love you.

    King Lira True comma true full stop of all these bounds (points to Sara) comma even from this line to this comma with shadowy forests and plentious peaked mountains comma A fullstop U full stop grants comma cheque books and petrol receipts I make thee master full stop Cathy comma my second born comma speak fullstop

    Cathy I am made of that self metal as my brother, and prize me at his worth. Only he comes too short, that I profess myself an enemy to, all other joys. The love and concern you radiently express to all your subjects, even to the most humble first years, like Hazel, who you took under your wing and taught her of the better things in life—that now she mixes with the most fierce piss-artists; to the most noble Master of the Lore; brings forth in me a similar love to you. As King you have guided us and have shared experience with the unenlightened (looking at Sara) like smoking and eating meat. And who could raise word at your leadership? Who could dare utter a single defiance against your Presidency? John—he always wanted to fly. H—he loved being upside down for six hours, for it gave him a totally new perspective on masturbation. Ieuan—yes, he probably would. But your Presidency has taken this club to new heights, despite ill-fated attempts by macabre witches and skulls and Ieuan to wrong your rule. I love you as much as child 'ere loved, or father found: a love that makes breath poor and speech unable.

    King Lira To thee and thine remains this ample third of our kingdom comma no less in space comma validity comma and pleasure than that conferred on Rob semi colon abundant with hut addresses comma cave permits and keys full stop Now comma Sara comma our joy comma what can you say to draw a third more opulent than your brother and sister question mark I speak full stop

    Sara Nothing my Lord.

    King Lira Nothing question mark fuck all question marks such is your modesty that you obviously speak of another full stop

    Sara Nothing.

    King Lira Nothing will come of nothing semi colon speak again full stop

    Sara My name is not semi colon. Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave my heart into my mouth. I love your Majesty according to my bond; no more, nor less.

    King Lira How comma now comma woman with hoops question mark mend your speech a little lest you may mar your fortunes full stop

    Sara My name is not question mark. Good my Lord, you have begot me, bred me, loved me. I return those duties back as are right fit, obay you and most honour you. But how can I love you all if my rabbits also take up part of my love? How can Cathy love you all when most of her love lies in preaerving stupid caving club traditions? How can Rob love you all when most if not all his love lies in recording every half penny he spends?

    King Lira But hyphen goes thy heart with this question mark

    Sara Not with the question mark my Lord. I love you as is my duty.

    King Lira So young comma and so tender question mark

    Sara So young my Lord and true.

    King Lira Let it be so semi colon thy truth then be thy dower exclamation mark exclamation mark for comma by the sacred radience of the SUD hyphen nay the mysteries of Carruther's warderobe open parenthesis and the operation of H open brackets from whom we do exist and cease to be close brackets close parenthesis hyphen here disclaim all my parental care comma a soft comma warm comma piece of dog shit comma or Ieuan if he can be distinguished from the former comma shall to my bosom be as well neighboured and loved than you comma my some time daughter fullstop Unto you I place the curse of the land com~a the dark comma evil power of sweat and labour semi colon tha tortous nights of agony comma broken and shattered over some so hyphen so speech semi colon the embarasment and har ent of people bowing to you and kissing your feet crying open quotation marks tell us more master close quotation marks I hereby make you President.


    All in all it's been a Punctuated year. Thank you.

    When the assembled company had recovered from their weeping at this obvious pathos and love expressed so eloquently in this re-enactment of the scenes that had occurred but a few hours earlier at Trefor Road, Dawes introduced Sara, our outgoing Treasurer and incoming President:

    Sara "Oh Christ, I'm eating meat" Frears has often complained that Hywel didn't tell her what to do, and that she doesn't have a clue. She still doesn't.

    Sara, however, was so overcome with emotion, that beyond uttering a few very short words, she was unable to make a speech.

    Next, the club rose and commenced the toasts:

    1. The Queen;
    2. The outgoing committee;
    3. The incoming committee;
    4. The Easter Black Boycott;
    5. The fact that from the start of this meal to the end, Ronald Reagan is an hour and a half closer to death; and
    6. That during the course of the meal an average of twenty five Americans have died.

    Lastly the club sang "The Buckland Hymn", as ancient tradition demands.

    (To the tune of 'Onward Christian Soldiers'):
    Lord Buckland is my leader,
    Friend of everyone,
    Peacock of the Universe,
    Ruler of the sun.

North Wales Trip 19–21.6.1984

Raif & Rob

Having survived the last of the Geol exams in the morning, a rapid descent into town was made; unfortunately the train was missed by a few minutes. Frantic and dssperate enquiries revealed a tenuous train connection at Machynlleth and a yet more uncertain bus connection at Penrhyndeudraeth. Aftsr tea at Raif's we thus re-started our journey, reaching Blaenau Ffestiniog at dusk—for once it wasn't raining there. We toiled up the steep track from Tanygrisau to Cwmorthin Lake under the huge weight of massss of gear we would not need (75 feet of ladder, 150 feet of rope, etc., etc.) and made our way into the beckoning darkness.

"I know a nice dry roomy chamber to sleep in; much better than outside on that wet grass" Rob said as he disapeared underground. A tortous descent of a 45° or steeper incline brought us to home sweet home. Unfortunately it turned out to be a little less salubrious than Rob's memory recalled. The floor consisted of ultra-sharp slate waste covered with a thin film of mud; water dripped incessantly from the roof (there was 2,500,00 gallons of standing water dammed up in the two floors above us), and we were to camp about ten feet from an eighty foot shear drop. An hour after a frugal meal, Raif gave up and made a bleary eyed and half naked ascent of the incline to sleep on a nice soft peat bog on the surface.

But... Rob has spent a night underground, and I haven't. After a subterranean breakfast we returned to the sunshine to change. The owner's son turned up to start the day's work, so we had a tour around the family operation (three men—father, son, and brother) both above and below ground. We left him with the parting assurance of "We aren't blasting today." We then entered a six dimensional maze, Rob with a huge plan in four colours of the superimposed workings in five veins had a vague idea of where we were, whilst I was totally lost.

I had dim memories of the route, but we went down most of the dead ends in the mine in the process of finding it. We did the standard round trip from the Old Vein to the Back Vein with the exception of attempting to descend the Old Vein Incline. Having looked at the incline head we deliberated whether or not to descend, for a considerable quantity of waste has been tipped down the incline, making it most unstable. We did descend—but it was pretty hairy. From A to B floor it was possible to by-pass the incline by using a manway in chamber 1 West. However, the sight at B floor landing made us give up; the incline narrowed to only two feet high due to tipping and looked desperately unstable.

The main purpose of the trip was to correct the plans as to what is still acessible, in doing this it was established that only one passage still remains open into the main Oakley workings—E floor in the Old Vein, via a broken down wall between chambers 31 and 30.

The rest of the trip was devoted to photography and was fairly successful except that we learnt the limitations of even multiple flash sequences in REALLY big chambers—over thirty flashes proved insufficient to light the manway in chamber 1 West on B floor in the Back Vein, which is a truly cavernous void.

On getting out we risked death due to frostbite by swimming in the lake. After moving our camping gear to a disused chapel the distant rattle of ale filled glasses beckoned us to Blaenau. So ended a good day—forgetting about the nasty walk back to the chapel.

The second day dawned bright and fair, but not so fair as the previous day. After a sumptious breakfast of ige we toiled up the valley to Rhosydd Slate Mine. Having changed in front of a large group of children on an adventure holiday, we entered the stigmian gloom. We entered via the lowest drainage adit, the Lefel Fawr—die straight for 2,000' and of very generous proportions. The rest of the mine was rather disapointing though, consisting of two parallel inclines up as far as floor 3 and little else. The workings to the East of the inclines have almost totally collapsed; those to the west and those above floor 3 are either in the process of falling down due to an unstable opencast, or are inaccessible due to collapsed bridges and those below adit level are flooded. We took some photos, attempted to get into the opencast but gave up at the sight of splintering props and sagging walls.

So we gave up, made our way out and changed in howling winds. After a quick meal in the ruined chapel we took some last pictures of the exterior of Cwmorthin Mine and staggered off down to Tanygrisiau under a huge weight of equipment. The route back to Aber was diverse to say the least, including a diversion via Pwllheli.


Ireland Expedition 24.7–9.8.1984

The umpteenth annual summer scientific expedition was, as ever, held in McGanns and Monks Bars in County Clare. Fifteen intrepid souls took part, meeting at Aber and/or Fishguard (despite attempts to loose certain members by telling them to meet in Carmarthen). The roll was as follows:

H, Rob, Marshall, Sara, Chris, Ieuan, Carruthers, Hywel, Hazel, Bunce, John, Mel, Cathy, Alison, Jas

After a farewell Indian in Aber we journeyed down to Fishguard. The crossing to Rosslare was calm despite the nuclear holocaust raging on the Apocalypse board. The crossing of Ireland to the west coast was enlivened by two stops—one at Waterford at about 6.30 a.m. in a vain attempt to find a chippy open ("Isn't the town dead?") and another to change our British pounds into Punts. This was made funnier by most of us quing up in the bank to change our £10 notes into other denominations (there was a forged £10 scare on); the cashier got suspicious after the first two or three of us and we had to wait while she then measured each note and checked its number and watermark.

We camped for the entire holliday, sorry I mean expedition, in Ballyvaughn—despite intentions to move down to Doolin "later on". The camping place was very handy for Monks Bar; possibly too handy as you had to pass it each morning on the way to the tap and the shop! The weather was pretty variable, but marked by two utterly atrocious nights when we all got washed out, including two German cyclists who spent a night in the transit. It was on this occasion that we were treated to the sight of Ieuan floating on his airbed inside Marshall's marquee (the groundsheet was a lot more waterproof than the walls).

Most of our drinking was done at Monks Bar, in fact to such an extent that we acquired "our" room where we left the interminable war games out for days. There were also excursions to O'Donoghue's , McGann's and a crawl around all five bars in Ballyvaughn.

There were 14 caving trips of various sizes—a pretty good record for us. Other trips included the Martello Tower at Finnevarra Point (built by the English to keep the French out of Ireland—logic of a sort). As soon as we got there and rigged some ladders to get in, hoards (well, two families) of tourists arrived and made use of our tackle, including a family who live in a Martello tower near Wexford. The tower was megalithic in proportions, but had been gutted inside. However, one of the cannons still remained on the roof. There then followed much fantasising on the idea of converting it into a club hut ("the only fortified caving hut in Clare").

Other highlights included the annual communal giant sandcastle built on Fanore beach, and much drinking of whiskey under the stars. It was on one such drinking session that the inhabitants of the marquee suceeded in greatly annoying the rest of the camp:

Having got back after a hard days caving/drinking we snuggled into our sleeping bags and gave thanks theat the rain wasn't raining and that the wind wasn't blowing in order for us to get a good nights sleep.

We were suddenly awakened by a great blundering around—Stayte,Rob, Marshall and Ieuan appeared to having a conversation about warts and boil at great volume. No matter I thought, they'll soon go to bed. They then decided to retire to Marshall's tent to partake of a drop of rum before turning in. 'How friendly' I thought. My thoughts soon came back to earth with more blundering around outside—this time by several persons of Gaelic origin who were screeching and noise making. As several of these persons were of the female sex our hapless en-tented quartet pricked up their ears and within minutes the whole troup were ensconsed within the fabric of Marshall's tent. For three hours the conversation from within carried over the tents—it could probably be heard in Ballyvaughn. As I tossed and turned I prayed for a very long arm and a flame thrower. Most of the conversation was inane, but parts were very amusing. Listening to Ieuan's chatting up had to be heard to be believed.

The night wore on, the dawn came, and finally the Irish contingsnt announced their departure. Oh joy I thought, some sleep at last. There was a final wrestling bout with Marshall and A.N. Other and they left. (Quote from Marshall: "I thought the 'Wild Women of Wonga' was a bad film—I didn't know they existed!") Relief; but it was not to be.

They returned. I heard Marshall dragged around (the rest of us were cowering inside the tent) and then held inches from my head as he was dangled over the cliff top in his sleeping bag and forced to recite Shakespere. It was quite funny the first time. but they kept coming back. ("Is this a dagger I see before me..."). It got most annoying when they came back without Marshall and discussed the new day—very very loudly. They eventually left. I finally dropped off to sleep at around 6.30 a.m. The final sounds I heard were millions of birds and Stayte snoring loudly.

Another diversion was the annual dance at the Hylands Hotel. A local four piece was murdering an assortment of 1950's tunes, all with an overiding hammond organ beat in the backround. Unable to cope with this strange music we retired to a corner and drank steadily until the wild women of wonga dragged us out onto the floor. Dancing to it was impossible (possibly we wern't up to the Gaelic disco dancing technique), but we had a go. Successful we were because with so many people on the floor—age range 9 to 90—we couldn't make fools of ourselves.

This was later followed by a drunken drive in the transit with Marshall at the wheel to Fanore beach to see what remained of the sandcastle (fortunately we only met three cars). After stumbling back and forth with cap lamps we had to admit that the sea, as ever, had won.

Soon it was time to go, so after a last Guinness at Monks we braved the trans-Ireland highway to Dublin, where we stayed courtesey of Nicky. The following day we squandered all our remaining money on records and at last departed for Holyhead via Dun Laoghaire.

Poll Kilcorney 1 (Cave of the Wild Horses) 27.7.84

John, Bunce, Cathy, Hywel, Sara, Rob

Descended into the depths in the late afternoon; a smallish cave (520m) but possesing a distinct and very real character. In as far as the main junction, turned right. Up a boulder choke into a small aven and onto the top of the pitch. Great rigging difficulties ensued, with ultimately a large chockstone a little way down the pitch being used: there was some concern voiced that it seemed to coneist of chippings held together with mud, however it held okay.

At the bottom of the 45' pitch the mud was very thick indeed. The passage led to some gours, beyond which was a muddy pitch with no belay point visible. Here, at great s sacrifice, the club's resident belay point, John, came to the rescue. Jamming himself across the passage he tied the ladder to his belt (although he also volunteered to life line as well...) and the intrepid few descended the 25' pitch. Below was a very active streamway which according to Hywel, with a strange light shining in his eyes, "went on and on...". On the way out, we explored the side passages, floundering about in the sticky mud. Back at the transit photos of people shaped clods of mud were taken.

Later, on consulting the guide book, we found that the second pitch was the end of the survey: it seemed that the dry weather had dried the sump up. Still later in Ballyvaughn, strange brown creatures were seen to disport themselves under the tap and in the harbour.

Sketch survey of the extension

Repairing to Monks Bar we found the others still hard at their board games and Guinness. During the course of the evening whilst playing a long and complex board game of a monarchical nature a Mr. Colin Bunce (middle name Arthur) was seen by several members of the club to try and give away Alison's pint to a passing glass collector. However instinct prevailed and Alison with defying movement managed to rectify the situation. She later went on to rule Britain.

Later in a 2.00 a.m. whiskey drinking session we demolished the marquee. H sang a song, it went:

Lupins, lupins, lupins,
Lupins, lupins, lupins, lupino,
Lupins, lupins, lupins.

He then tried to walk over the edge of the cliff. Like fools we stopped him.

The following day dawned bright and fair (doesn't that sound nice?) An expedition to Ballyvaughn to procure replacement tubing for Marshall's tent was somewhat unsuccessful: the garage possessed a single shelf of spares, hacked into the wall; there waon't as much as a spare tyre on view and the sole spanner was in use. The man said he might be able to order some in a week or two...

The hardware emporium at Corrofin was much more helpful fortunately. That night saw the great Ballyvaughn bar crawl—Hylands, Greens, Collins, O'Lochlens, and Monks. Ieuan drank larger and than amazed us with his ability to belch not only 'Bulawayo' and 'Television' but even 'Archbishop'! Hywel then bet him a pound he couldn't manage 'Archbishop Markarios'. Ieuan played his trump card, revealing hio ability to speak from his stomach, and pronounced it perfectly.

Next morning the sunshine drove us from our tents early. We set off to the bar only to find that it wasn't open until 12.00, so we tried the tea shop. Unfortunately it wasn't open either. We then realised it was Sunday—the day of the Lisdoonvarna Fete at the Spa, Wells.

Intrepidly we set off, first dropping the caving fanatics off at Slieve Elva. Then to Lisdoonvarna where we sat in a tea shop for several hours of non-alchaloc refreshment (tea, tea, tea, and some coffee). Then a quick visit to the Fete—guess the name of the doll; guess the weight of the cake; guess the number of sweets in the jar; guess the age of the electrical equipment (a 1920's multimeter); throw the balls in the box and the hoops on the pegs. Ieuan had his fortune told—the prophecy of a job promotion came true!

Next we went to witness the 'Grand Pig Roast' in the optomistic hope of free food. Unfortunately 2,000 other people also turned up with the same idea; having caught a glimpse of how small the pig actually was we gave up and went to Doolin for a quick pint before driving at great speed to Poll-an-Ionian.


Poll-All-Ionian 29.7.84

Alison, Hazel, Marshall, Rob, Ieuan

What a gullable lot this magnificent quintet were, none of us had been down the cave before, and surprise surprise, those who had been didn't want to come along since (excuse) they'd been before. This should have told us something but we were told on good authority that it was a 'Fairly easy crawl'.

Huh! That soon was echoing in our ears—have you any idea how much a painful 200m crawl is? Well to put it into perspective its like going from the Talbot to the White Horse in a nine inch sewer. The bloody sewage board can keep their jobs!

No, mustn't be cruel, the spectacle at the end was truly magnificent: a six metre stalactite in a big chamber. David Bailey (Rob Jones) decided to take his camera and equipment with him—crikey! It would be easier to take Green's camera shop with you. Mug here 'volunteered' to carry the tripod as long as I was photographed with this phenominal structure. It was a good trip; we stayed in the main chamber gaping at the stalagmite for about an hour, getting colder and colder. It just shows how marvelous it was. However, I don't think you'll see me down there again, just like last year's crowd. The comforting thing is that this structure is so inaccessible that it is likley to survive for a fair bit longer.

(As it turned out, the photographs were not too wonderful, but I hope to try again, so if there's anyone out there not too put off by this account, and even better, has a hundredweight of flash powder...)


Pollballyelly (Slieve Elva Pot) 29.7.64

Cathy, John, Bunce, Hywel

Arrived at the entrance with miles of tackle and the vital hammer and chisel. Immediately, every fly, midge, and horsefly in Clare desoended on us. Hywel and Cathy disappeared leaving Bunce and I to contend with this voracious army. The idea was to let them rig as far as the second pitch. After 20 minutes the insects won—the second half of the party beat a retreat into the bowels of the earth and caught the advance party at the pitch. Down and on to the second pitch; Bunce walked—I crawled, not realising the passage was crab-walkable. Hywel added a bolt here rather than use the 'horror' we encountered last time. The usual 'iffy' back up was still used.

Down the rope/ladder again, and onto the final pitoh. Hywel descended first to push where Bunce and I had failed last year. The pitch is in three sections of about 25' each, the final one being a slide down an 8 inch crack. The passage is narrow but crawlable around a corner where lack of enthusiasm defeated last years trip. I could continue for about 5' until, to quote the Yorkshire guidebook, "further progress beoomes ridiculous"! The passage could be seen as remaining narrow for 3' or so with no respite visible. It is unlikley that any caver than ten years old could progress muoh further.

The decision to return to the surface meant attempting to climb the 15' slot in which it was too narrow to bend your knees. It was bloody hard work. No worry of falling as you were so wedged in. I eventually pushed my body to the top, from there on it was 'easy'. A good trip.

The following day was devoted to Apocalypse and Risk; Richard Marshall conquered the world not once but twice in an afternoon. Some people were more active though, and did a very credible impression of being tourists, visiting Aillwee show cave (but not going in), the Burren Centre at Kilfenora, and looking at the Cliffs of Moher. John resisted the temptation to abseil off them (600') after deoiding there was no belay. So we just peeped over the edge. The tourists then visited Ennistymon before moving on to Doolin beach where everyone strolled to the new pier and admired the Arran Isles. Then the cry (as ever) went up "More Beer!" and a hasty retreat to McGanns was made. Jas and Sara suoceeded in locking the keys in the transit, which taxed the immagination of Hywel and John to work out how to get in. Later their combined ingenuity was applied to putting the window baok in the transit.

They returned to Monks Bar to find an Apocalypse grudge match in progress between Marshall and Rob, aided and abetted by Chris, John and H; the combined allianoe succeeded in wiping Marshall off the board and whilst he was sulking, the alliance turned on each other.

Ieuan spent the day ill in the marquee in the company of a rabid cat which then passed its fleas onto many other occupants of the tent.

Hywel & John

Polnagollum-Poulelva 31.7.64

Sara, John, Rob, Jas, Marshall

A fairly easy trip. After the easy scramble down the entrance pothole we met another party (a rarity in Clare), a group of Dublin based cavers with expedition carbides. Once in the generously dimensioned etreamway it wae just a case of walking onwards with the occasional left or right trend in the near continual oxbows. The only directions we had to follow was 'right at every junction'. When the passage lowered to a bedding plane about 2½' high, Jas and Marshall went back, retracing their steps to the Polnagollum entrance.

We continued on in the bedding plane until we found the infamous mud sculptures, and here branched right into a prominent passage which soon narrowed into a low, rubbly crawl. This leads into a confusing network of muddy passages. Fortunately at the most distinct T-junction someone had chalked an arrow to the right. This led into a particularly unpleasant and muddy passage, partially blocked by boulders and flowstone. Soon however, we were out into the half daylight at the bottom of Poulelva pothole (120').

After washing the worst of the mud off under the waterfall, we each prusicked up, with varying degrees of ease. Because there were only two sets of SRT tackle, Rob had to send the tackle back down to John, who was last man up. Instead of lowering it down, he slid it down—it landed a bit too heavily for comfort, thus writing off two krabs and a gibbs. Unable to stick the wildlife—all on the wing and of the blood sucking variety—we soon left. Later Hywel delighted in breaking up the condemned gear with the aid of a big hammer. "Why don't you just put them in a bin?" "Ah! But what if someone looks in the bin and says 'Just what I need! Two krabs and a Gibbs'?" "Well it would be their own bloody fault!" But ruthlessly broken up they were, it was more than a little disquietening how easily they disintegrated, particularily the Gibbs ("Tested to 2,000Kg")...


Fergus River Cave 31.7.84

Cathy, Bunoe, Hywel, Stayte, H

This must qualify as the widest cave in Claire. The entrance we found in the mossy undergrowth led into walking size passage. This lasted about 10' then the crawling/squeezing began, leading to lots of pretties—quite impressive really (honest). Then a slot in the roof led to yet another bedding plane crawl with more pretties, inoluding 'The Skittles'. Yet more bedding plane crawls/squeezes followed, intersperced occasionally with bedding plane 'chambers'—300 yards wide and one foot high; we laughed at the cairns left by previous parties and carried on...

I was laughing at those with cells getting stuck, dismantling them to mend loose connections, etc. and comparing them to the reliable friendly light of the old Premier No.1. I had my doubts at one stage but vigorous shaking soon produced a 6 inch flame, lighting up huge caves (1 foot high by ½ mile wide). However, on putting in some new carbide, the flame was replaced by a jet of water. Half an hour later I could have filed a patent for acetalene powered disco strobe lights. After wearing the flints out many times over this was remedied, and the dependible old carbide lit the way out in its warm friendly way. All in all only an extra hour wasted could be attributed .to the carbide so I suppose it is fair to say 'none of this fucking about with carbide'.

The cairns went on and on, one every six feet; then one every ten feet; then every twenty feet; and then no more. Had we gone the wrong way? Possibly. We backtracked and carried on into lower bedding planes. There were plentiful cairns and arrows (with CPC initials). The bedding plane continued to widen and lower. Soon enthusiasm waned and we decided to return to the surface.

After a few wrong turns in what is a single passage without side turns—just very, very wide—we vainly searched for the much mocked cairns. Sud1enly we were back on the track, staggering on and on, blindly following the cairns. Our great leader, Bunce, went on; after a while his light was seen again—had a circle been made? The prospect of yet another bedding plane squeeze to a similar 'chamber' was hardly inspiring so we climbed down into a tight rift which after 20m led to a bedding plane squeeze floored by sharp jagged stones. This soon gave way to a small chamber followed by a drop down into a bedding plane squeeze. We had a rest. There's nothing else to the story, the rest of the cave continued as described. My overall impression was "where's the fucking water?" After all, it was the Fergus RIVER Cave, which suggested a river (i.e. water). Not a drop of water was to be seen as we all melted in our wetsuits, expecting at the least a stream in the STREAMway. At least we had the much maligned (on the outward journey) cairns, and also the great Bunce: ye of the built in compass. Without them we may have been lost forever. All in all a cave that stands head and shoulders all other Clare caves; a cave of superlatives—the widest, perhaps the prettiest, and above all, the nastiest, most vicious, shittiest cave in all of Clare.

Much later that evening after chips in Ballyvaughn (there was a miniscule fish and chip shop which we patronised to such an extent that the owner ran out of curry sauce! A few days later we arrived before he had opened, but he told us "I'm not open yet, but you can corns round ths back to wait because you're regular customers"—and after only three days!), the brused and sore veterans of Fergus River together with the not so hard men sank their pain in whiskey as we all lay on the grass by the tents and watched the shooting stars, which seemed to grow ever more numerous as the night and the whiskey wore on; quote: "Did you hear that one go WHOOSH! just then?"

The next day it rained and rained so we all sat in Monks Bar and played Apocalypse. After nine hours with no winner and no definate conclusions beyond that H was losing but might make a comeback, we decided on a little excursion.

Cathy & Hywel

Ailwee Show Cave 1.8.84

H, Sara, Carruthers, Bunce, Cathy, Rob, Chris, Hywel, John, Alison, Marshall, Ieuan, Hazel, Mel, Jas

A day when all went caving? but, shock, horror! It's a SHOW Cave! We all paid our money and trooped off after the guide, seeing the bear hibernation pits (no longer in use), the 'frozen waterfall', the 'carrots', and the 'praying hands'. The show cave occupies a third of the 1,070m cave; we rushed to the end and felt really cheated at being unable to continue on into the inviting darkness. Then the guide did the old 'lights out' trick—John switched a cell on. To be fair though, it was a well presented show cave, not overlit, and the guide's speel was pitched at the right level for the layman.

Melvin is proposed as the first president of the Aberystwyth Show Caving Club; quote: "I have now seen four show caves."

The following morning was dry fortunately, so after waving goodbye to John and Bunce who sped off home, two large parties went caving—the day that EVERONE went undereround!


Cullaun I (Perhaps) 2.8.84

H, Cathy, Hywel

The hard mens group decided to do Cullaun I, notable for its 380m of upstream passageway with many entrances due to untopping. We think we found where the entrance was supposed to be, but even Hywel thought the passageway tight, and it didn't sound like the book... so after an hour we decided to move south towards Cullaun II.


Cullaun I½ (Or There Abouts) 2.8.84

H, Cathy, Hywel

On the way from Cullaun I to Cullaun II we descended into a clump of sallow bushes and found a cave entrance. This couldn't go unvisited and turned out to be a typical Clare cave i.e. 3' high and l' wide, meandering through the rock. There were some beautiful straws in the roof with e at an incredible angle, forcing you to crawl on hands and knees continually. We were forced to stop after about 250m at a pitch. At the top were a number of interesting formations—belay bolts. Later reading of The Gospel According to UBSS showed this cave to be absent from the book, despite the bolts.

Sketch of stals

"And not a drop of Araldite to be seen!"


Cullaun II 2.8.84

H, Cathy, Hywel

This proved to be our third cave of the day. We ran down the streamway, jumped down the pitch, swam in the sump, and ran back; all in 45 minutes. A good cave, and a good day with a visit to McGanns on the way home.


Cullaun II 2.8.84

Carruthers, Sara, Rob, Stayte, Alison, Marshall, Ieuan, Hazel, Mel, Jaz

The day dawned wet and windy, and wonder of wonders, all except Ieuan expressed a desire to go underground. A most unusual state of affairs in the history of the club. It must have been the promise of an easy trip.

Having dropped the real cavers (H, Cathy and Hywel) off to do their masochistic atuff, we drove around to the field gate at which it is customary to change for Cullaun II (recognisable by the rotting boiler suit shreds in the grass), and changed amidst the horse flies. We all had a laugh at the expense of Hazel—dressed in a boiler suit at least nineteen sizes too large.

Got to the entrance, escaped the flies and trundled down to join the streamway. The trip was an easy meander past various pretties as far as the pitch, which only Marshall and Rob descended to look at the sump. Their return was not as easy as expected, as they were reduced to stacking rocks up to reach the lowest handholds. Chris, Marshall, Alison and Rob lingered to set up assorted photographs, while the others went out. On the return, we detoured off up Year Passage to see an especially fine grotto, but ran out of film.

Back on the surface, we were just begining to change when Ieuan drove up; so impressed was he with our description of the grotto that he decided to come back down with us to photograph it. Thus it came to pass that Everyone Went Caving In One Day.

Our return to the grotto was swiftly accomplished; then an inordinate length of time was taken in photographing it from all conceivable angles. Soon however, the prospect of Beef stew at McGanns called us back to the surface.

The following day dawned even wetter and windier than the last so we stayed in Monks Bar all day with the exception of a short trip to the Martello Tower at Finnevarra Point in the late afternoon.

The excellant weather of the next day coupled with the complete take over of Monks by a coach load of American tourists drove us out of Ballyvaughn and down to Doolin at the unheard of hour of 1.30.


Poulcraveen 4.8.84

Alison, Ieuan, Richard, Stayt, Hazel, Carruthers, Sara, Jas, H

The party who chose to stay at Doolin for the day and not go underground found themselves doing the opposite, when after exhausting the possibilities of exploring the megalithic monuments near Doolin, wandered down to the beach just west of Doolin. Here they found the remains of Poulcraveen, a cave which has been sliced longitudinally through by glacial erosion of the cliffs. The remaining loops of streamway, oxbows, and minor passages were all explored as far as daylight permitted.


Doolin River Cave 4.8.84

Mel, Cathy, Hywel, Rob

A small group actually chose to go caving! The chosen trip was the St. Catherines One to Fisherstreet Pot through trip; a 3Km long well varied trip which has everything—squeezes, crawls, rivers, pitches, big passages, and quite a lot of pretties.

The two sycamores that mark the entrance to st. Catherines were quickly found and the entrance crawl entered. The route is easy—you just follow the stream until you see daylight again. We paused at Beautiful Grotto (some nice pillars and a lot of dribbly stals), Smithy Grotto (more dribbly stuff) and the Great Oxbow Grotto (translucent curtains) to take the usual interminable photos. From these onwards the cave takes on truly magnificent proportions: over 50' square passageways in places. Whilst Rob and Melvin took some pikkies of the main streamway at the Arranview Inlet, Cathy and Hywel went a few hundred feet up the aforementioned inlet, finding it decorated but not as inspiring as the St. Catherines section. From this point the the streamway gets a bit smaller, but remains large by Clare standards (5' wide by 15' tall, later becoming 3' high by 20' wide for the final stretch). A final photo stop was made at the Aille Cascade where Hywel and Cathy (especially Cathy) got very wet in the cause of art. And then it was alog the final wet bit and out to the base of Fisherstreet Pot (l2m) which we laddered out.

The nearby shower, beef stew and Guinness was beckoning at the conveniently placed McGanns so off we hurried to join the rest.

The next day dawned so bright and fair that only the really dedicated cavers (Cathy and Hywel) went underground; the rest of us slaved on Fanore beach to move six or eight tons (next year I definately will take a navvy shovel!) of sand into a castle shaped enclosure together with attendant walled town etc. However, rain and the lure of Guinness in a warm bar stopped play and prevented us from watching the sea's inevitable victory.


Poulnagree 5.8.84

Hywel, Cathy

As described in the guide the entrance is situated by a pump. After much effort we discovered that this did not work due to a missing pumprod. We got changed and descended. The entrance slope is a steep descent over rocks which leads to a canyon passage. After a short while this leads to the First Aven—an awe inspiring cavern 40m or so in height, into which smaller caves lead at some height (We carried the equipment to descend the aven from these alternative entrances but apathy prevailed). The stream was followed down to the Second Aven—fairly pretty with calcite flows and moonmilk, and again very high.

A hole at floor level was the way on—a hands and knees crawl leading to a short section of stooping height. Then the stream canyon heightened and the meandering passageway followed with some superb straws on the roof. It was an impressive joint controlled passage gradually narrowing and eventually forcing us to traverse higher up. Soon an inlet on the right led to an aven via a tight squeeze. This was well decorated with calcite flows and boulders covered with calcite. Regaining the main passageway the traversing became more strenuous—mainly due to the traverse level being about three feet below the roof; a carbide lamp seen at the bottom eluded our efforts at recovery, but undeterred we carried on. The passageway widened and the zig-zag streamway resumed—long straight bits followed by 100° turns, and so it went on. Eventually the passageway lowered and a T-junction was reached. To the right was a sump, and similarly to the left a bit further on.

A good cave with superb soaring avens and the possibility of a 37m entrance pitch from the alternative entrance.

The following day was our last in County Clare, but still some people felt like going caving.


Polldubh 6.8.84

Hywel, Cathy, Rob

Having located the northernmost entrance to Polldubh amidst the usual group of sallow bushes we got changed amidst the usual acres of flies. Having dropped to the streamway we found it tight but not rediculous—Rob and Cathy each found a personal tight bit though Hywel (our resident 'thin man') glided through without apparant effort and made patient waiting noises whilst we struggled. From there on it was a standard Clare streamway, though a little narrower than usual—50cm wide by 4m high. After 50m we met the alternative northern entrance, but being real hard cavers the thought of using it hadn't occured to us.

The streamway continued its meandering course, enlivened by a lot of quite nice formations as far as the junction with the south stream, beyond which it got a fair bit bigger. We followed the combined streamway almost to the end, where it degenerated to an unpleasant bedding plane crawl. We then back tracked and exited up the south stream to the south entrance, emerging under a pleasant little waterfall.

We then made our way across the limestone pavement to meet the transit. And so ends another enchanting year in County Clare.


South Wales Trip 22–23.8.1984

Cathy, Hywel

Based at Penwyllt. On the Saturday went into OFD to explore for potential in the Lower Upper Oxbow (or was it Upper Lower Oxbow, or Upper Lower Upper... etc.). A sand filled dig I'd seen with Hywel a year previously had not surprisingly been dug already, revealing 25' of passage and another sand dig, so we tried elsewhere. Digging fever returned for 4' and a few hours. Still there could be measureless caverns and passages where no man has trod before.

Sunday saw us doing the Cwmdwr—OFD through trip via the traverses and exploring all the high level passages in the Marble Shower Series on the way.


Carmarthenshire Trip 4–7.9.1984

Raif, Rob, Marshall

Monday saw Raif jumping on his little Honda and making the epic drive from Preston to Felinfoel through rain, rain and more rain. The following morning we were up early to go over to Swansea to see Marshall's famous office. It was rather less than a tower block, and didn't have a uniformed doorman, nor a vast underground car park. However it did have tea and biscuits and comfy chairs so we settled for those. Having made arrangements for the evening and next day, Raif and I departed northwards to get underground.

Ogof Pasg, 4.9.84

Raif, Rob

We parked in Herbert's Quarry on Foel Fawr above Brynamman and changed in growing drizzle. It took us a few minutes to locate the entrance amongst the many small fissures in the quarry face. An easy stroll led down to the sump, reading ancient scribbles on the walls (mainly early 1900's). We by passed the sump by a side passage and 25' muddy pitch. On the far side an semi water filled tube beckoned. Excavation drained it slightly; it wasn' t worth the effort for the nasty muddy grovel. Back in the main passage we waded the canal, explored an aven in the roof and crawled to the end of the cave after pushing some rifts off pillar ohamber. The terminal sump looked and felt unpromising, so we returned to the entrance chamber and grovelled off up the Rabbit Hole. Whilst Rob was pushing the furthest extremity the dredded cramp struck. Echoing screams, gurgles and cries of agony caused me much amusement—he couldn't flex his legs to get rid of it so it went on and on.

A quick exit was made into driving rain, we sheltered in Upper Herberts Quarry Cave (10' to a very solid looking silt choke). While waiting we were kept amused by a car in the bottom of the quarry bouncing around, with occasional glimpses of bare flesh. Eventually both the bouncing and the rain stopped so we changed, seeing the car drive into a neighbouring quarry to repeat the performance. Later on the way home the same car was seen all steamed up in a third quarry!

After a meal we went over to sample the delights of the Mumbles in Marshall's local.


Pwll Swnd 5.9.84

Raif, Rob, Marshall

A trip that time forgot, or that I'd like to. We were a trifle late departing for the cave which is to be found in a remote spot some miles north of Brynamman. After a stop for sustenance in Ammanford (the ubiquitious lardy cakes) the expedition took on a serious nature. Rob had warned us that the cave was remote but we hadn't realised how remote. It an hours walk over wet soggy moors before Rob admitted "I'm lost". Compass bearings on distant hills were taken, a partially blasted rift was explored and eventually the cave found (by Marshall—the other two having both proclaimed "It can't be by that cairn—it's too obvious!").

A promising entrance led to a less than promising vertical crawl, laughably called the First Pitch. Main chamber was impressive but boded ill for the rest of the cave. A side excursion was made into the (relatively) spacious Old Series. Returning to Main Chamber we crawled down through the trapdoor (a cruel torture device) to the tight Second Pitch. From here the breakthrough tube followed (not as bad as it sounded). Beyond lay a frequently constricted crawl, climaxing at a strange S bend with constrictions. This led into the Wishing Well Pitch. From here we crawled into Five Ways Chamber (Six ways on!). We laddered down into north Rift but found it unpromising, so continued on the main route to the confueing Z Chamber (eight ways on).

An excursion into the West End ground to a halt as we ran out of ladders on the second pitch into it (I advise the next group to take minimally 5 ladders and a lot of belays, also a handline for the wishing well.). We next tried South Passage and laddered down into the Ringing Chamber. Finding we were now short of ladders for the terminal pitch we returned to South Passage via Lintel Passage and de-rigged the pitch.

The Terminal Pitch proved to be quite tight at the top, but widened out into the impressively proportioned Basement Chamber (a shoe box would be spatious in this cave). We looked at the sump, peeped into the SWCC dig, and then began the long return. Having totally lost track of the time, we found oursalves crawling out on the moor before realising that the dot of light ahead was not the distant entrance, but a star. My watch said 11.15 p.m.; our call out time was 12.00. There then followed a frantic dash across the moor and fast drive down to Brynaman. There then followed comments on the lines of "God! haven't they got a good bus service up here—they're still running after midnight" and "The pubs are blatent about their after-hours up here!" A phone call home revealed it to be 11.00, not 12.00 (reducing our trip time to 7½ hours +2 hours walking) and that Rob's parents had not thought of calling out the rescue, thinking we'd have probably gone to the Mumbles (!).

Next morning we staggered out of bed, the bruises from Pwll Swnd starting to colour nicely. A leasurely day was planned, with a number of minor sites to be examined.


Cwmmawr Colliery

Rob, Raif

A few miles from Rob's home we set off down a muddy track to a mine he wanted to photograph. Dropping down behind the nearly blocked entrance we landed in a roomy haulage level following the coal seam. "Last worked in 1910" echoed the shadowy figure as he lept into the active void-migration zone. "Mmmmmm" I thought, foolishly following. Large areas of thinly bedded sandstones and shales were inexorably moving from ceiling to floor, reviving dormant memories of "The Room of Dangling Doom". Thrusting the tripod onto Rob, a 100m dash to the entrance was made, followed shortly by the instigator.

After pausing to examine the arched entrance to the Cencoed Slant (1890's) we got back to the car and set off again. Next stop was Crwbin Quarry where two hours were spent searching for Ogof Capel Ddygen and Ogof Crwbin. ("The entrance is difficult to find..." says the guide book). We found the first but had to give up on the latter. Then, as we were changing, the owner arrived and told us not to go down as the cave was a protected bat site.

So once again we pressed on to another site.


Mynydd Garreg Copper Mine 6.9.84

Raif, Rob

Situated on the side of a limestone hill near Kidwelly, this seemed a most unlikley location for a metal mine of any sort let alone the really good one we did find. At his first glimpse of the small Lower Level, Raif fell to his knees exclaiming "At last, a REAL mine!". This level was blocked by a fall after 150' though.

We then tried the upper Level. This is situated on the side of a truly cavernous stope and connects to a 80' shaft. Descending into the stope we found it to be 20' wide, 250' long and 150' tall. A level and winze off it were inacessible unfortunately. A find of intrest was a hand pump attatched to 4 inch piping.

The farmer told us that we were only the second people to visit the mine in the last 20 years, and that the stope is usually almost totally flooded (he uses it as a water supply for his cattle).


Ogof Foel Fawr 7.9.84

Raif, Rob

Returned to the Black Mountain the next day in pleasant sunshine. The tiny entrance shaft after two small climbs drops into the main chamber, l7m by 2.5m. Here we began surveying the cave (previously unsurveyed) with a rather 'up-market'(for cavers) tripod-mounted prismatic compass. After an hour and a half, still not having completed the main chamber we gave up. Should you ever, poor misguided reader, intend doing a cave survey, do it with a hand held Silva compass if you ever want to finish the bloody thing! We didn't have one with us, so had to be content to simply explore the cave instead.

Straight ahead from Main Chamber is a series of crawls. To the south, the far side of a 15' pot is a series of crawls and small rifts. To the north, beyond a 20' pitch is a roomy rift leading to a collapse zone quite close to the surface of the moor.

After changing we investigated a small dug rift across the road from the car park. It had a tin sheet over it with a Brynamman address painted on it. Then we drove over to Carreg Cennen Castle which is situated atop a 120' cliff. In the SE corner of the courtyard is an arched tunnel leading to a 150' natural cave. Here we pushed a crawl and an aven at the end of the rift. Later that evening found us sampling. the Felinfoel Brewery's products.

The following morning Raif set off on his grueling ride to Preston, and Rob hobbled off to the hospital with a septic shin; the doctor was none to complementary to those who go caving on open wounds.


BCRA Conference Trip 29-30.9.1981

Cathy, Alison, Chris, Bywel, Bunce

The Aberystwyth contingent departed for an overnight stay in Warrington. At the M56/M6 junction Alison made the comment that the bike in front look6d remarkably like that of a certain Mr. Colin Bunce. As it was peeing down with rain and also dark this turned out to be an extremely accurate observation (especially considering she didn't have her contact lenses in). Hywel arrived soon after, and after much home made wine we retired for the evening.

Up fairly early the following day—made Lancaster by 10.00. Sat through various lectures, had lunch and a pint and then more lectures. The thought of caving in Greece certainly appealed to us after various lectures on the topic. Also interesting to have the Ogof Darren y Cilau rumors confirmed—a mere 2½ miles according to the master of the understatement, Mr. Clive Gardiner.

Having purchased tickets for the Bop/Doss/Breakfast we hit Lancaster itself to partake of a pint or nine. We roamed the streets in pursuit of ale and curry and kept meeting various other 'delegates' with a similar aim in mind. At one point there were around 30 assembled cavers hammering on the door of a certain "Brown Cow Inn" trying to get them to open early. Eventually found somewhere open and had a few pints, went back to the Brown Cow and had a few more. Then to the Indian. It was full of bloody cavers. So we retired to another pub to wait. We were eventually availed of our hunger—excellant curries all round. If you're ever in Lancaster we reccommend the "Mogus" in King Street.

Another pint then to the main event, the Bop. The "Sugar House" turned out to be a converted wharehouse. Not a bad place—full of girating, pissed caving types who were thrashing around the dance floor. We lost no time in joining them and basically danced ourselves stupid for the next few hours. The DJ soon realised the audience he had, and reacted with some really good music to which we all lept about to, the sweat pouring down of course had to be replaced with a pint or so, which helped the dancing, and helped the sweat, etc..

Eventually we crashed out, to awake next morning to the sight of many tired hungover cavers tucking into sausages, bacon, bread, beans and tomatoes. An excellent and huge breakfast, from which we were offered seconds, thirds, fourths and fifths. The left overs were taken as lunch: sausage sandwinches ad nauseam. Then back to the lecture theatres. More jolly good lectures and expedition reports. Decided Java looked good, the lecture incedentally delivered by Sheena, the woman who helped John out of OFD II. After the photographic competition winners, down the M6 to Warrington for tea and thence home to Aberystwyth. All in all a good trip.


Deformation Processes Observed in Graduate Cavers

It is a well known but little documented fact that stress increases following graduation. A study of the processes involved and the resulting deformation products has been conduoted on graduate members of Aberystwyth Caving Club. Conclusions were then drawn on the long term effects of the graduates in relation to the club.

Generally the deformation can be devided into 4 D events which are detailed below.

Dl—Immediate Post Graduation

This first phase of deformation results from the sudden change in enviroment of the caver and is generally preceeded by a rapid phase of thrusting. This was observed in the Lira Formation, which in under three hours had been thrust 120 miles to the east. There was a sudden decrease in pressure away from the high revision area centered around Aberystwyth, and is thus thus characterised by retro-grade metamorphism.

In certain cases an SI cleavage develops around the eyes and mouth as seen in the Fenton Formation:

Figure 1: SI development in the Fenton Formation.

Dlb proceeds with minor folding typically into depressions due to the loss of closely related formations, thus reducing the competance of the thrusted sheet. Internal phase changes are common at this point with a partioular emphasis on sadness and regret following the fracture from the formations left behind.

Although Dl is largely ubiquitious, cases were studied in which it was absent. For instance neither the Stayte nor the Carruthers Formations underwent Dl due to the absence of thrusting in this area and they remained in normal contact with the undergraduate formations as well as the other unthrusted graduate formations such as the Platt Formation.

While Dl is usually a rapid event, the H Formation can be taken as the opposite. After some four years only minor thrusting had occured, principally in the direotion of Borth. However recent work indicates that major thrusting may well oocur very soon, especially when one considers the B.P. evaporite plane which is increasingly acting as a decolement surface (glide plane).

Figure 2: Expected thrusting of the H Formation along the B.P. evaporite bed

D2—Unemployment Phase

D2 affects nearly all the graduate cavers, and is the result of a number of various stress fields including overdrafts, boredom, lack of money, and the resultant lack of beer. There are also more personalised stress fields dependant upon the particular graduate (e.g. home cooking, dog walking, writing Thrutch articles, etc.). The boredom, overdraft and personal stresses frequently result in shear zone development, while the economical stress and the intimately linked beer consumption results in dehydration of the graduate formation. For instance gypsum will change to anhyd . The resultant release of water into the system may well aid the subsequent shear deformation.

Figure 3: D2 Lira Formation shearing

D3—Employment Phase.

Figure 3 depicts the D2 deformation of the Lira Formation, a particularily interesting, if unstable graduate which is currently entering the D3 phase of employment. However the effects of D3 are often poverned by the previous deformation phase. For instance, in the Lira Formation, northward thrusting for over 400 miles to Aberdeen occured but the subsequent deformation is intimately related to D2, particularily the stress field. Considerable fracturing preceeded thrusting together with complex folding due to the proximity of the Dawn Pugh Formation. The two units became inter-thrusted following Dl and so D3 was met with some resistance from the stable Pugh Formation.

D3 is a far from widespread phase, and the graduate formations may remain stable following D2 for many years, such as is seen in the Ripper Formation and which is expected to be seen in the Stayte and Carruthers Formations.

D4-Phase and Conclusions

Dl is dependant on the presence or absence of thrusting. If thrusting occurs. the graduate formation will only have postal links with the Aberystwyth Caving Club. However, by the conclusion of D2 the graduate is far more suited to those long sinuous and tight bedding plane crawls so often encountered underground. This may well lead to increased activity with the Aberystwyth Caving Club, especially if the graduate remains stable for a long period of time after D2 but before D3.

Those Graduates which have undergone D3 are occasionally observed in shadey caving huts or in dubious inns in caving areas during time off. However many have been affected by what has come to be known as the D4 Fenton Stage. This results in wild drinking in favour of caving, and such is the strength and intensity of deformation that many undergraduates are often mildly deformed in a similar trend to the D4 Fenton Stage. Thus caving suffers and drinking continues relentlessly. It is therefore proposed that all freshers should be folded, faulted, boudinaged and metamorphosed in accordance with the D4 Fenton Stage under simulated laboratory conditions before being allowed on any caving trips.

(The author would like to thank the D.H.S.S. for a grant which enabled this research to be undertaken.).

Paul Grainger BSc (Hons) Wales, Geology Dept., U.C.W. Aberystwyth

Cwmorthin Slate Mine


The slate belt which forms a horseshoe around Blaenau Ffestiniog was formerly the centre of world slate production. This industry has left behind many impressive remains, notably the huge waste tips, and the even vaster underground caverns. Access to the mines is prohibited in most cases however—those to the east and northeast are generally in work (albeit at a creatly reducsd scale) or even if not, are. none too friendly to cavers. Llechwedd and Gloddfa Ganol to the north are now tourist mines. The remainder of the Oakley Quarries complex to the northwest is in work also. This leaves only the smaller quarries to the west. With the exception of one, these are either very small, or remote and possess few remains of equipment.

The one exception is Cwmorthin Slate Mine. Although still in part time work by a partnership, the owner is tolerant of cavers, and the deeper levels of the mine take one through prolific mining equipment remains in the western fringe of Oakley Upper Quarry.

Visitors are advised to apply in writing to the owner, Mr. R.E. Jones at Delfryn, Wynne Road, Blaenau Ffestiniog. (Especially as there are plans to gate the entrance).

The sole remaining entrance is at N.G.R. SR 6788/4639. Much of the following information is adapted from "Cwmorthin Slate Mine" by G. Isherwood, particularily the historical notes, most of the pictures, and much of the plan of the workings.

The following two points should be noted: (1) Oakley Quarries do not like people straying across their boundary from Cwmorthin; (2) the modern working equipment should not be tampered with. Regard of these points should ensure continued access to the mine.

Brief History

c18l0–c1830 & c1840–c1858
Small intermittsnt workings of little consequence, mainly on the surface.
Established as a medium size mine and worked for eight floors above edit level in both the Back and Old Veins.
Major collapse in the Back Vein in floors 2 to 8 prevented further working in this vein.
By this date the Old Vein was worked out above adit level.
The Cwmorthin Slate Company bought out by The New Welsh Slate Company; Back Vein Incline driven five floors below adit level to E floor, a cross level driven to the Old Vein, discovering the Narrow and Stripey Veins which were worksd until the area between the Old and Back Veins became unstable. The Old Vein Incline driven five floors below adit level to E floor.
Bought by the Oakley Quarries and made idle.
The mine stripped and allowed to flood. Filled to adit level in the Back Vein, and to C floor in the Old Vein (level of a drainage adit into Oakley).
The Oakleys decided to work the slate remaining between Cwmorthin and Oakley Upper Quarry and commenced two deep drainage adits to drain Cwmorthin.
The Old Vein drained by "Lefal Cwmorthin" on E floor; the redundant drainage level on C floor dammed by a low dam to store cooling water for air compressors. (97,500 gallons drained).
Cwmorthin Back Vein drained by the "Lefal Ffrench" from Oakley Old Vein workings on E floor. (43,000,000 gallons drained).
An Incline formed in chamber 34 of the Oakley Old Vein from E to I floor; this formed the focal point of this section of the Oakley workings.
To prevent water seeping down into the Back Vein, floors A and B east of the incline were dammed off, they filled to edit level with 2,500.000 gallons of water.
The Cwmorthin Back Vein Incline relaid and a limited amount of work done on E floor.
An incline from E to G floor formed in chamber formed in chamber 1 West in the Back Vein and three chambers worked off it.
Working ceased, but the pumps kept going.
Pumping ceased and most equipment scrapped. E floor of Cwmorthin Back Vein flooded partially (due to the drainage adit having hit it 13 inches too high), workings off incline in chamber 1 West on E floor in Cwmorthin Back Vein flooded (no natural drainage), Oakley workings in the Old and Back Veins flooded as far as G floor (level of lowest Oakley drainage adit).
Cwmorthin sold to R.E. Jones & Son who continue to work in the Stripey Vein on floor 1 on a small scale.

Production as an independant mine 1861–1900: 306,233 tons of finished slate, indicating that at least 3,500,000 tons of rock were removed from the mine (the ratio of finished slate to waste was never less than 1:10).

The mine is essentially in two main veins, the Old Vein and the Back Vein both of which dip north at about 35°. There are also limited amounts of workings in the Narrow and Stripey Veins which lie between the two principal veins. In addition there is a little working in the North Vein which overlies the Back Vein (the uppermost of the main veins) but these workings are not connected to the other veins.

Description of Round Trip

The itinery is to enter via floor 1 of the Back Vein, pass through a cross level via the Stripey and Narrow Veins to the Old Vein. The route then heads East, gradually dropping to A floor and then to C floor. On C floor the Cwmorthin-Oakley boundary is crossed. After descending to E floor, an out and back leg is made to G floor. After returning to E floor a long cross level returns you to the Back Vein and Cwmorthin workings. The ascent to B floor is made via the Back Vein Incline, and from there to floor 1 on a manway; this exits in the entrance passage.

The trip may be summarised thus:

Entrance is made along the Lake Level, at the first junction, bear left. This takes you past the head of the Back Vein Incline to the modern generator and sawing equipment. Beyond these, the chamber narrows to a tunnel. 400 feet on,a cross roads is reached—the left turn leads into the two chambers currently in work (the Stripey Vein).

Back in the main level, the second cross roads leads into the Narrow vein. Take the left passage, and where it splits, bear right. The first chamber to the right has an opening in its back wall, this leads into the Old Vein.

In the Old Vein, to the right is the head of the Old Vein Incline, while to the left chamber 2 East has a path of sorts down its tip. At its bottom, on A floor, turn right and continue along as far as chamber 8 East where a stone stepped manway descends to C floor. On this level, one has to turn right. The first turning right takes you through shallow water, ducking under a number of tramway lines set into the walls which formerly surported a walkway above the water. This ends at a low dam, from which the water was piped to cool an air compressor.

Cooling water dam in former drainage adit, C floor, Cwmorthin/Oakley boundary, Old vein.

From the dam, the way on is to the left, leading to chamber 10 East from which a steep manway descends to E floor, emerging above two impressive cooling tanks at the site of an air compressor installation. To the right the tunnel leads to a broken down wall which is the sole remaining way into the remainder of the Oakley Quarries complex, all the others having been blasted down. To the left 'Lefal Cwmorthin' drains the Old Vein from Cwmorthin into Oakley; the level meets the Cwmorthin workings some 15 feet above their passageways, resulting in an impassible sump. The way on from the cooling tanks is along Lefal Cwmorthin and down the first turning right.

Air compressor cooling water tanks, chamber 10 East, floor E, Oakley Old Vein.

This leads out onto the head of the Chamber 34 Incline, still in the Old Vein. The recommendsd route is to descend the incline two I floors to G floor (the last above water level) and go off on the left hand landing. In the first chamber (35) is a 'caban' or workmens' mess room; this one is unusual in having war time newspaper cuttings on its walls, including pictures of the Graf Spey scuttled in Montivedeo Harbour. The next chamber (36) is also worth a visit to see the precipitous catwalk on its western wall.

Catwalk, Chamber 36, G Floor, Oakley Old Vein.

From chamber 36, return to the incline and ascend one floor to floor F, leaving via the right hand tunnel which has a six foot scramble up to it. Following this passage brings you to the first chamber on the right (33); a zig-zag path leads up it to floor B. At the top, turn left and pass through two chambers. From here follow the tramway lines and compressed air pipes along 700 feet of drainage adit ('Lefal Ffrench') until a five foot scramble down is reached—this is the boundary betwoen Oakley and Cwmorthin.

This is chamber 11 East, from here to chamber 6 East there are only air pipe lines, but from 6 East onwards there are tram lines and a number of trams and wagons also.

E Floor Level at Chamber 4 East, Cwmorthin Back Vein.

From chamber 4 East onwards there is shallow water, reaching a maximum depth of three feet. Continue on past the bottom of the Back Vein Incline into chamber 1 West where there is a well preserved headgear and winch for the now flooded Z48 Incline.

Headgear of flooded Z48 Incline, Chamber 1 West, E Floor, Cwmorthin Back Vein.

From the Z48 incline, return to the foot of the Back Vein Incline and ascend it three floors to B floor. It is worth diverting on the way up at D and C floor landings to look at the remains of bridges suspended by chains above chamber 1 East.

Remains of bridge suspended on chains, D Floor landing, Cwmorthin Back Vein Incline.
Looking up Cwmorthin Back Vein Incline from C Floor landing.

At B floor landing, the first turning on the right brings you to a concrete dam inscribed 1935—this holds back 2,500,000 gallons of water which completely fills A and B floors in the Back Vein east of the incline. Returning towards the incline, take the right hand passage; this curves around above the incline and leads into the massive chamber 1 West. Ascending the face of the chamber is a most impressive manway, going up two full floors to floor 1—about 120 feet. At the top, turning right takes you back to the entrance of the Lake Level.

Dam and valve gear, B Floor landing, Cwmorthin Back Vein Incline.


  1. Congratulations to Richard Marshall on his re-election (unopposed) to President of N.U.S. Wales for 1985/6. I must quote again from the account in 'Courier' (27.3.84):
    Thirty two year old Richard, who hails from Nigeria, is the Union's first black president and has constantly been outspoken on Gay Rights, much to the consternation of his less radical predecessor. Relations between the two reached an all time low after Richard's much-publicised arrest for indecency in Carmarthen last summer—a fact not unconnected with his wife's departure leaving Richard the custody of five year old Tabitha.
  2. Wanted (due to falling membership), new members for the TERMINAL VELOCITY CLUB—see John and Chris at the first practice jump from the Geog. Tower next term.
    A few back copies of Thrutch are still available:
    • Thrutch Volume 3—A rare and early back number for only l0p!
    • Thrutch Volume 7—Still at its original price of 30p!
    • Thrutch Volume 8—"A masterpiece of the English Language" for a mere 30p!
  4. Bookings are now being taken for our IRELAND EXPEDITION 1985—£40 for a place in the trannie, £35 for the ferry (and £100+ spending money). £25 deposits to Rob Jones on first come, first served principle. Dates are 13th to 28th July inclusive; a week in Kerry and a week in Clare.
  5. B.C.R.A. Conference is Manchester 28th to 29th September—a trip may possibly be run.
  6. Don't forget Freshers Fair, 1st and 2nd October—helpers needed on our stand.

Revised Constitution 1983

(Ammended 1984)

  1. There shall be no editing or censoring of the log book.
  2. The principal hierachy of the club shall apply at all times:
    1. Longest Serving Member/ Master of the Lore.1
    2. President.
    3. Ex President.
    4. Secretary.
    5. Treasurer.
    6. Life Members in order of their past seniority.
    7. Minister without Portfolio.
    8. Driver of the Day.
    9. People with tackle in their houses.
    10. Thrutch Editor.
    11. Publicity Officer.
    12. President's Favourite of the Day.
    13. Others (Freshers, etc.).
    14. Switzerland Trip Organiser.
    15. Pete Berlin (old jew).
    16. Non members.
    17. Free loaders, Fellow travellers, and Blacks.
    18. Christians.
  3. The code of conduct while speaking to members of the committee (see clause 2, positions 2, 4, 5, 7, 10, 11, 12, 14) will be followed:
    1. To all, but the President, must be answered courteously and ending with "Sergeant Major".
    2. To the President, as 1. but ending with "Sir".
    3. To Life Members, as 1. but ending with "On Wise One".
    Those belonging to positions 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, l0, 11, 12, 14 will confer with all others as subordinates and treat them accordingly.
  4. The meeting place of the Caving Club shall be the Coopers Arms on a Tuesday at 8.30 p.m.
  5. There will be at least one official Caving Club Dinner each term.
  6. There will be at least six unnoficial Caving Club Dinners each term.
  7. An annual masturbation contest will be encouraged to be held each year during the summer expedition.
  8. The Annual General Meeting will be held on Saint Dunstans Day, 19th May, at which the Buckland Hymn will be sung to the tune of "Onward Christian Soldiers":
    Lord Buckland is my leader,
    Friend of everyone,
    Peacock of the Universe,
    Ruler of the sun.
  9. New members will be encouraged to learn the Seven Parts of a Button and when they enter their second year in the club, will be let into the mysteries of the eigth part.
  10. There shall be no copying in any form of the log book.2
  11. The constitution may only be changed at the Annual General Meeting.
  12. Voting may only proceed at the Annual General Meeting if a quorum consisting of twelve established members is present.
  13. There will be no thirteenth clause because of its superstitious nature.
  14. The constitution may only occupy three pages of the current log book.
  15. The Switzerland Trip will be cancled at every Annual General Meeting.
  16. Life Membership will be conferred on all members who have completed a degree course at the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, and may be awarded to those persons who have given long service to the club, or those elected by a majority at the Annual General Meeting.
  17. The log book must be taken on every trip.
  18. There shall be a "Terminal Velocity Club", membership to be awarded at the descretion of existing membere of that club.
  19. The Peoples' Committee will henceforth be regarded officially as an illegal and deplorable elitist group worthy of nothing but scorn.3
  20. The annual summer scientific expedition shall be held in Ireland each year.
  21. On the drawing of genitals—men only may draw those of men; women only those of women.


  1. Defined as longest serving member living in Dyfed and attendant at the Coopers Arms at least one week in two.
  2. Except under the supervision of the committee.
  3. See special file available to comittee members only. File name "Geheinestaatzpolizei 1983.IX.18."

We will abide by this constitution, and sign for all members. This constitution is considered inviolate tor all time.

Oldest Serving Member
H.C. Davies, BSc, MSc, Dip.Mpal, PhD(pending).
President 1983–4
P.C. Grainger, KC.
Ex President (1982–3)
D. Carruthers.
C.P. Stayte, KC., TVC.
S.L. Frears.
Life Member
A. Platt, BSc.
Minister without Portfolio
C. Howarth, BSc.
Thrutch Editor
R. Protheroe Jones
Publicity Officer
C. Lowe.
Switzerland Trip Organiser
D.A.Chamberlain, BSc.

Current Hierachy

  1. Goddess Alieon Platt B.Sc., M.Sc.(Pending).
  2. Longest Serving Member & Master Of The Lore Chris Stayte B.Sc., K.C., T.V.C., N.B., S.U.C.E.R.(S.).
  3. President Sara Frears B.Sc.(Pending).
  4. Ex-President (1982–3) David Carruthers B.Sc., N.B.
  5. Secretary Cathy Howarth B.So., Ph.D.(Pending).
  6. Treasurer Rob Jones N.B.
  7. Life Member (& Ex-Tackle Officer 1983–4) John Underwood B.Sc., T.V.C., S.U.C.E.R.(S.).
  8. Life Member Richard Marshall B.Sc., President N.U.S. Wales.
  9. Life Member (& Ex-Switzerland Trip Organsier 1983–4): Doug Chamberlain B.Sc., Ph.D.(Pending).
  10. Minister Without Portfolio Ieuan Skym T.Eng., F.A.W.O..
  11. Driver Of The Day.
  12. People With Tackle In Their Houses Robin Fisher Eaq.
  13. Publicity Officer Rick Rurst BSc.
  14. President's Favourite Of The Day.
  15. Other Members.
  16. Switzerland Trip Organsier Marc Hutchings B.Sc.(Pending).
  17. Pete Berlin (old jew).
  18. Non Members.
  19. Free Loaders & Fellow Travelers.
  20. Christians.
  21. Americans.


Terminal Velocity Club (Member).
Kaiser Club (Member).
Serious Underground Caving Escapade—Rescued.
Serious Underground Caving Escapade—Rescued (Self).
Naughty Boy.

Document history:

  • First published May 1985. Originally edited by Robert Protheroe Jones.
  • This digital edition published on the World Wide Web June 2010. This volume was scanned and edited by Rich Smith. Hard copy courtesy of South Wales Caving Club.

© 1985, 2010 Aberystwyth Caving Club