Produced on 30th April 1987 on the Campus of UWIST Cardiff & Published on 16th May 1987 by Aberystwyth Caving Club
At long last Thrutch Volume 11 creeps into the world! For the benefit of people who joined ACC after 16.5.85, this is Thrutch—the ancient and revered (but never equalled) Journal of Aberystwyth Caving Club. Yes, Thrutch is a little late at present... 1 year and 7½ months late. I can't claim that its prolonged gestation period has improved it any—a flip through the pages will soon convince you of that. So all I can say is that I apologise for the wonton delay but I have had a poorly leg. However, thanks to the continued support of the PEOPLES COMMITTEE, (H bless them), Thrutch has appeared at last.
To show we're unbiased men of the world we've even included what paltry few articles the femmies could scrape together (the veggies were too busy murdering plants to contribute anything). Please note Miss Gillian that these appear UNCENSORED in any way: our cause is safe enough that we don't have to stoop to such tactics. In fact, Thrutch wishes you all the best in your campaign—a little comic amusement is always appreciated.* To quote the Earl of Chesterfield (1694–1773):
Women, then, are only children of a larger growth: they have an entertaining tattle, and sometimes wit; but for solid, reasoning good-sense, I never knew in my life one that had it, or who reasoned or acted consequentially for four and twenty hours together.
Should anyone feel moved to contribute to the continuing debate then Thrutch will publish their scribblings in volumes 12 and 13 (to appear together at Freshers' Fair 1987).
Despite the good-natured (?) arguments of late, everyone most admit that ACC has had a glorious renaissance over the last couple of years—I hope that this Thrutch (and the succeeding 2 volumes) will keep your memories of these "golden years" intact as your exodus from Aber begins. My very best wishes to the freshers of 1984–85 who are now leaving.
NOTE Minority mining trips after 1.7.1985 (i.e. by Nos Nibor residents) have been ommitted due to their repetitive nature—the resulting surveys and discoveries will be published in a special mining Thrutch "sometime in the future".
Arrived before 9.00am bearing a huge display board and various other exhibits, soon to be joined by other people carrying large rucksacks of assorted goodies and publicity materials, including (really professional!) cyclostylled information sheets. Quote "caving is an exciting and dangerous sport done to the accompanyment of the roar of water and silence of huge caverns measureless to man..."
Turning up early paid off—we secured two tables in a prime spot next to the entrance to the Beacon. Having set up stall we arranged and rearranged the displav of our best and cleanest tackle, and waited for those wonderful freshers and their one pounds to arrive.
Gradually they did so, a slow but steady trickle, totalling 59 by the end of the day. It all looked most encouraging—particularily the fairly high proportion who had caved before. Lunch was consumed at the stall, as was the Jamesons (as Alison will testify). The flood gradually died down and in late afternoon we finally packed up before grabbing a meal and repairing to the Coopers for the first social of the year. Stayte "the poorest poverty stricken graduate in Aberystwyth" ate me out of house and home back at Cwrt Mawr, and even took the very clothes off my back!
At the Coopers, the rain made a large turnout unlikely, so we took the Snug (seating for 12 or 15), expecting it to suffice. By 9.30 we had to adjourn upstairs to the function room. Eventually about 25 apparantly keen freshers turned up—a truly astounding figure compared to recent years! As the evening wore on and enthusiasm grew (both among the old and the new members), we had to organise more and more mining trips to try and accommodate them all. When we eventually left at 11.30, we were all in a most optomistic mood for a "golden year"—an opinion which uncharacteristically proved to be correct.
Wandered dutifully up t'ill at 9.30 to discover the show didn't start until 10.30. Spent the next hour setting up a suitably stunning display (cell, rope, ladder, lots of ironmongery, photos, and a pinch of cave mud). Spent the next six hours drinking coffee and conversing with pentacostillists wanting to borrow gear ("come to the Cwps on Tuesday"). Collected vast numbers of members; at least one every two hours—three in all.
Cathy goes caving on the Gower Mith a torch; 11 caves in one day—must have been all of 300m in total! The sea doesn't always help as you can only get to most of the caves at low tide, particularily on Worms Head. The caves are famous for their archaeological remains—bones of lion, bear. wolly rinoceros, mammoth and red deer have been found, as well as the remeains of early man—including the famous 'Red Lady' of Paviland Cave, who was in fact male. Caves visited: Ogof Wyntog (74m through trip), Deborah's Hole, Long Hole (!), Mewsland Cave. Red Chamber, Thurba Head Cave, Fox Hole, Paviland Cave, Worms Head Cave, Port Eynon Paint Cave, Culver Hole (a wierd 'construction'—a natural cave in a cleft in the rock which has subsequently been sealed off by rough masonry 60 feet high—reason unknown).
What a start to hell of a good mine: jump into a disgusting red milch—thigh deep red lead solution. Everyone already looking like glowing irradiadiated survivors of some nuclear holocaust. Some 400m in we reached 'the ladders' (the term is used looselv)—three forty foot ladders of decreasing stability to say the least. At the top Raif demonstrated how to climb boulder stacks, beams, and various other fragile pieces of infrastructure likely to collapse at any moment.
Luckily Raif failed in his attempt to bring the mine down upon us, and so we continued further into the depths. One cavern displayed a huge mass of gour pools resembling miniture paddy fields, all made out of red mud—well worth seeing. Having seen the sights and got totally wet and cold we then rushed off to the Halfway.
Robin's only comment in the log was "bloody nice mine but I can't get my underwear clean".
The roller coaster ride to the aine Nasn't auch appreciated, especially after the drinking last night. The group split into two so we could look around the lower mine before the rest of us went up the incline with the rope 'lifeline'—really good fun. The thing about mines is there are lots of loose rocks and they all seem to be coming towards me, or alternately Chris, especially his shoulder. Another thing about mines is the lack of safe ladders to cliab up, I was quite amazed that we climbed up ladders that were broken on alternate sides every few feet. Being typical freshers, me and Elaine lowered the tone of the group by having a mud fight, after Elaine had sat in a large splodge of mud.
Robin and Richard attempted to ladder down a ventilation shaft through deads in a passage to the right from the top of the first set of ladders, but ran out of ladders at 50 feet, finding themselves swiging near the roof of a large stope.
Coming to University I thought "Do something different", I did—I went looking for a place to get stuck underground. This trip was my first ever. When I saw the entrance to the mine I thought "Christ! I hope it's not all like this!" The entrance was no more than a rabbit hole in the side of a hill. The tunnel beyond was not all like the entrance but I do wish I had webbed feet and was not so bloody tall. The first hair-raising bit was a 30–40 foot climb up a ladder.
Ladder? Huh! Little metal rods strung together by wire lines—I thought ladders were supposed to be big strong wooden things. The climb was not too bad until the top which was on an overhang. There were quite a few of us, so there was a fair wait to go up, and another wait at the top. At the end of a dark daark passage a ladder was secured for a climb down to another level. We waited and waited, only to be told the ladder was not long enough. Returning to the entrance passage we looked up a side passage until we came to a hole. A BIG hole with lots of water. Didn't fancy a swim so turned back. My view of cavers is they are all mad but then so am I. It was fantastic: can't wait for the next trip.
Lefel Fawr (Group 1)
What an intrDduction to caving—water! It might not have been deep, but it was certainally wet and cold. First difficulty was a rather large ladder very solid and safe. Or at any rate as safe as anything in the mine could be. Over the plank, which was nice and wide, but frightening in its concept i.e. 40 foot drop below. Went through a tunnel and down a scree slope to an ore chute. After many turns reached the incline. Help! there's no way that it looks like 45 degrees! Everyone said the beams made it easy to negotiate, but the gaps were longer than ourselves. After the beams we had to negotiate the dreaded knotted rope.
Following contortions on the knotted rope we explored the "Roman" Levels, however due to the decrepedness of the supporting timbers we were forced to turn back. Back at the knotted rope, closer inspection showed this to be anchored into dodgy rock by a very small rusty peg. We avoided an avalanch on the scree and returned to the incline.
Lefel Fawr (Group 2)
Three mines in five days! Todays mine was preceeded by various attempts to find a level from Rob's directions; I don't think we actually found the same level, but we managed tp scour most of Cwmystwyth in the process. Anyway, having looked at a couple of small levels we found the main system. Went up a ladder and across a plank. Robin, Richard and Paul Wagstaff descended a hole in deads with 70 foot of ladders but no life line, but were unable to bottom it. After spending half an hour rolling ladders up we went up the incline (or giants ladder) and saw the roman levels.
The party then drove all the way to Llangurig far a pint (it being a Sunday) before haring back to Aber for an Indian.
The three car trip took a long time to get underground, possibly because of the need for masses of gear and some fairly complex rigging at the 105 foot Engine Shaft. Rob went dawn first: 25 feet... 50 feet... 75 feet... Aaaargh!!! I can see the end of the rope but not the bottom Df the shaft! Ground rapidly to a halt; "What an earth can I do?" Dilemma: swinging gently on a rope in the semi-darkness an unknown distance from shaft bottom and 20 feet below the bottom of our ladders.
Solution: I could dimly see a side level some 10 feet below me, so heart in mouth I abseiled a bit lower (the end of the rope uncomfortably close by now) and swung into it. After a five minute pause for concentrated gibbering, I shouted instructions up for the rope to be re-rigged. Whilst this was being done I reflected on the folly of (I) not putting a knot in the end of the rope, (2) taking an estimate by Raif of the shaft being 75 feet deep (actually it was 105 feet) at face value, (3) being blase in the extreme after a small helping of experience.
Next time I vow to tie a big KNOT at the end of the rope!
Grav's opinion of the abseil was a little better than Rob's: "There I was at the top of a bloody great big hole. The only thing holding me up was a single rope attatched to me by a clip and a canvas harness attempting to crush my manhood! Guess what I was attempting for the first time in my life? Answer: abseiling. Guess where? Down a 100 foot mine shaft. Final thought before launching myself aver the edge: 'I must be bloody mad!' First thought at the bottom: 'Fantastic! Brilliant! Give me more!' The thought inbetween was 'Right hand down a bit.' My first ever abseil down my first ever mine shaft during my second only time underground was brilliant. I will never forget it and I want to do more!"
The level off the side of the shaft led immediately to a cross roads, in the centre of which was a big iron kibble. To the right was a short crosscut; to the left the passage became very wet as it approached the fall which completely blocks the middle level at the surface; straight on was a fairly long but unproductive drivage which had good mud formations at the end.
We then abseiled dawn the remaining 15 feet to the bottom of the shaft, the rope contriving to hang under a waterfall. The level at the far side of the shaft had a little stoping and a few small crosscuts off it. Half way along we had to traverse around a flooded shaft. At the end we turned a corner and saw THE WATERWHEEL:
What a tremendous piece of engineering—400 ft3 of cogs, ironwork and pure ingenuity. It seems always to be the case that whenever you are without your camera you see the most stunning sights. The wheel, about 16 feet in diameter is almost intact, and even has water pouring over the top of it—a couple of gallons of WD40 and it'd be good as new! Just along from the wheel was the flooded shaft which it used to pump and wind. The ladders and pipework dissapearind down into the clear water make a fine sight. The drivage continues a fair distance westwards as a trial.
Most of the group then exited via the lower adit which meets the main drivage at the chamber housing the waterwheel. Paul Flynn laddered out up the Engine Shaft, followed by Rob who prussicked up. Definately a mine to return to!
An early start this morning, roundabout 1 p.m., which was quite early enough. The most dangerous part of the day now followed: i.e. Marshall's driving. Luckily I didn't have to use my spare trousers. The winding lane was too much for Dave; nearly a mayonaise niagra, but not quite. Arrival was a relief. A quick paddle across a really nice but chilly stream got us to the quarry. A pleasant place it is too—a 45 foot freehang with some ideally placed trees at the top, and a level carpet of leaves at the bottom.
The days abbing was really good fun. The others showed a little more trepidation, perhaps wisely. Dave looked worried, really worried. But at least he had a go, unlike some (Richard and Chris) who shall remain nameless. After experimenting with various pieces of gear, Rob and I discovered a really great game—human conkers.
Battered and bruised and very amused (good rhyme, eh?) we unclipped and Richard and Chris took over. We gave 'em hell. Thev both ended up in a real mess. With dusk falling and the midges coming out to feed we beat a retreat to the Black Lion at Talybont.
Some quotes on a standard Level 6 trip, mainly by people who never came again (I wonder why?):
"A very moist trip. My underwear has been stained beyond rescue. In future all amarous encounters will need to be conaucted with the lights out. My sanity, for a long time in question, is finally no longer existent. This was masochism with a capital M."
"'The water goes up to here (chest)', someone says, the only trouble is that I only reach his navel! However it had its compensations—further on into the mine I was the only one not to have to stoop and get back ache."
"It wasn't like I expected at all. Everything was so small, especially the gap between the water and the roof."
"First trip with Aber C.C., bit like walking in a sewer. Couldn't decide what was holding the ladders together—certainly wasn't the rungs."
"Think I left my feet in the mine—can't feel them now. It was bloody freezing."
"Definition of Caving—The Exploration of Unfamiliar Caverties."
The trip down, in two cars and a trannie was uneventful, if varied—especially for those in Kev's car, for he attempted the trans-montagne route via Tregaron and Timbuctu. On arrival at Cerberus in the wee hours we were greeted by a cry of "My God! The Cubans have arrived!" (combat gear being all the rage in Aber this year) from Dave Eyre, and an almost as welcoming cry of "Fuck off Students!" from Fenton.
Saturday dawned and we set of to Wells. Spent time wandering around looking for each other in various tea shops and car parks. Then went to the Hunters to consider Some caving. Many elected to go walking/drinking, but a respectible three trips got underground:
It smelt of shit, human shit! It was tight and crawly and muddy and vertical and smelt of dead things. Eternal memory of being swallowed alive by a snake.
Not a lot to it. Waited an hour at the top for the others to go down: the abseil was good though. Had to wait in the hole far the others to come down. At the bottom found a little side passage with a crawl but it didn't go anvwhere. Continued down the 'main' passage, but that too led nowhere. Had to wait to climb back up the pitch (70 feet). My summary of the trip: the going down was good, the going up good; inbetween was not so good.
The unfortunate pair of Robs who spent four hours lifelining eight people were tantalised by the sound and smell of the Hunters only 50 yards away. The worst part being when the people who had just ascended and changed wandered back to the top of the hole to taunt them with their pints.
Nine Barrows & Sludge Pit
Nine Barrows seems to have doubled in size since Rob and I ventured in last year. This time we found the half with the pretty bits. Sludge Pit lived up to its name. The only incident of note being when Leonie suddenly and rapidly disapeared from view down a 15 foot drop. Fortunately her fall was broken by Chris luckily happening to be underneath.
Next morning saw a late start. On the way to collect the transit from the Duke, Hywel 'Great White Hunter' Davies almost, but not quite succeeded in getting a pheasant with that least sporting of weapons—the Ford Cortina.
After a steep descent into the cave we followed the stream down into the cave. At the terminal sump we encountered our first obstacle—no bolts for the pitch. After much activity with the rope, trying to lasoo a boulder at the top of the pitch, Paul, with the aid of the two Robs managed to krab a rope to the chain dangling at the top of the pitch. Quickly the ladder was attatched and we moved onto the next stage. This involved crawling on our bellies through muddy cold water, then we had to negotiate a very tight squeeze filled with water. After this squeeze we encountered a massive boulder pile—most impressive. We reached the bottom of the cavern where some people had a mud fight. The return to the surface was easier, although us novices/freshers had to lead the way. On my turn I missed the way off the stream. What appeared to be dead end did in fact have a narrow steep passage which we came down. After five hours underground we regained the surface and went to the pub.
Rod's Pot & Sidcot Swallet
As Chris told ae yesterday in GB, "Your knees will be as rhumatic as mine soon, never mind!" His prediction is almost true as I now have two layers of bruises. The trip down Rod's Pot was very enjoyable—some tight squeezes and readjustment of limbs was involved but all in all we were fairly confident of the route. The only HAIRY bit was the squeeze on our backs over a gap in the rocks with a 60 foot drop to the left. "Keep to the right!" as Pete shouted was somewhat sensible... however as Alison put it afterwards: "Well, I wouldn't worry even if you did fall—it's so narrow that you'd get wedged sooner or later!"
Our other trip down Sidcot Swallet was also enjoyable. I wasn't on the Lobster Pot expedition which later proved sensible as the rope broke as Paul was half way up the hole. Still, eventually we were all back up in the main chamber: Cathv commended for declining help to the very last. The way out went very quietly, some dissapointment in not discovering the other way down to the next chamber other than the Lobster Pot—still, better luck next time!
The Trip Home
We waited until 9.30 in the horrible Burrington Cafe—thank God the bar opened at 7.00. Predictably enough, as soon as I got another drink, the others turned up so I had to head it. There then followed a trip back across Mendip to Cerberus during which my bladder almost burst. Rob in the fog was unfortunate enough to hit the only kerb on Mendip—a ten foot stretch an a corner. We arrived back at the hut to find everyone gone and notes instructing us to lock up and switch off etc. After coffee and food we did this. Our departure was hailed by a firework display courtesey of Stayte and Robin and eventually at 9.30 we set off.
In Bristol we stopped for more beer and chips only to find the flapping noise in the transit was in fact a flat tyre. As usual we demolished the wheel brace. Then followed an hours long wait in a garage forecourt in the middle of Bristol for the RAC. Eventually the repairs were completed; we set off again. The journey was most slow due to the very bad fog and rain. Three o'clock found us in the M4 services near Swansea having breakfast. Our eventual return to Aber was 5.00a.m.! Then the transit boiled over outside Cathy's necessitating a tea stop whilst it cooled. The final drop offs at Llanbadarn and Cwrt Mawr were at 6.05a.m.—there were a lot of cavers missing from lectures that Monday morning!
Quote of the trip was from Hywel: "Haven't you heard of Ohm's Law? I can't help being a renaissance man!"
The four man trip loaded up in Llanbadarn with 720 feet of rope, 175 feet of ladders and all the SRT ironmongery—the intention being to penetrate dawn a most promising shaft which Tim had discovered. In the event we were to be defeated by time, but suceeded in establishing the huge potential of this and the adjacent mines, all of which are drained to a considerable depth by the Lefel Fawr drainage adit.
We were under the impression that the shaft was vertical to the 20 fathom level (120'), and then inclined to the 90 fm (540'). Once down it was some time before it dawned on us that zero fathoms was in fact not the shaft top, but the shallow drainage adit—at 140' depth in the shaft. Thus the vertical portion of the shaft was actually 260', and the total depth al80st 700'!
We were all a little wary of commencing the descent—the gaping void was none too welcoming, but once over the edge it wasn't too bad (until you looked down!). The 0fm level gave acess to the North Vein—very little stoping, but a nice kibble and an orechute (unexplored) heading down to the 10fm level, and also the South (Main) Vein—Larger stapes but blocked by falls. The 10fm was dissapointing in that it led only to an inacessible stope in the North Vein. At the 20fm though were some very interesting remains. The pump rods had been intact for the lower 180' of the main shaft; these connected to a huge angle bob on the 20fm where the shaft turned inclined. This was a massive wood and iron construction in an excellent state of preservation. The level to the east on the 20fm led to a collapsed stope, but in this was a half buried windlass at the top of a blocked ore slide. The west level had a tram standing on the rails at its entrance, but we were unable to explore it due to lack of time. The same apolied to the inclined continuation of the shaft which stretched invitingly down into the blackness. This inclined section looked well preserved with a large kibble road, ladders, and the pumping beams mounted on rollers. Next time, we vowed, we'd bottom it!
Then came a return to reality with the gruelling prussick back to the surface. The main problems were the 15 foot bounce at shaft bottom, and the negotiation of the shaft lip, dragging the weight of 300 feet of rope up with you. The bit inbetween waS simoly tedious, wet, and lonely. The hurricane blowing across the exposed shaft top was almost unbelievable. Tim dashed off to phone to prevent a rescue callout; we then dragged the tackle up out of the shaft, changed in the hOwling wind, and beat a hasty retreat to Aber to get some hot food into ourselves.
A massive turn out of 24 made an excellant start to the caving year. A bill of 91.50 was run up between: Cathy, Martin Lowman, Tim, Alison, Robin, Elaine, Jane, Leonie, Chris, Carruthers, Hazel, Sophie, Rob, Grav, Paul Flynn, Dug, Vince Warltire, John, Caroline, Sara, Jas, Dave Forrow, Savita, and Abdul. As ever the cocktails were consumed in the Downies, and the meal enjoyed at the Light of Asia. Being the Presential Dinner, the new President, Sara, gave the speech:
"Another year has come around and once again we find ourselves in the 'Light Of Asia' full of beer and currey and the time for speeches has arrived. To quote Chris Lowe (4.10.83): 'We live in a fragmented world, full of long waits at the Indian.' I firmly believe that the best sort of speech is a short one, so this one will be. I would not presume to even try to match the sparkling wit and repartee of the previous president, may he rest in piece.
Aberystwyth Caving Club has been saved in its twighlight hour by an enormous influx of enthusiastic troglodites. Just when we thought all was lost, as member after long serving member left, a new acadeeic year dawned and with it, new hope. And with Rob Jones as treasurer I'm sure we shall never be short of a penny. He may even payoff the traditional 50 pound overdraft which has been passed from generation to generation down the ages.
With Mr. Stayte as Master of The Lore can we expect changes and upheavals in the club as he wields his supremacy? It is indeed a huge burden of responsability which he must bear on his shoulders, he has indeed passed from the young carefree days of youth and the Terminal Velocity club.
I intend to keep a close eye on the Log Book to keep standards slightly above gutter level. I have to tell you that several serious complaints have been made: 'I am seriously worried about the people you are mixing with', signed Shocked Parent (who brought it upon himself by reading the Log book without permission). I ask you all to consider this problem carefully—perhaps the best answer is to keep Mr. Fenton and the Log book well seperated. I look especially to alison in this aatter, as resident Goddess we hope she will keep a vigilant eye on the moral standing of the Club.
As I promised, this is only a short speech and is rapidly drawing to its close, lets hope this will be a successful and death free year.
To end I will return to the words of the Lira, missed by the Club and his many wives... On the death of a Candle at the Light of asia: 'She was pure, white and verginal, but Stayte touched her too much. Oh woe is me for this candle shed light on my popadom and shed light throughout the dim surroundings like a beacon in the night. But alas, she has gone; but she shone until the end, before suffocation in the bottom of a wine bottle.'
So have many of our greatest members passed, but the light is still burning brightly and we continue, our numbers swelled, stronger than ever into the bowells of the earth."
Up down. up down, ua down—you may think whats he doing? Well its abseiling and prussicking. More abseiling than prussicking. It took ages to set off from campus but when we arrived it was worth it. However I forgot about the river crossing—was it cold or was it cold? It was bloody freezing. After the intial shock of the river, the shock of looking over the 45 foot overhang was nothing. All I can say is that going down is great fun. The day was enlivened by Jane's discovery that she's too light to abseil effectively (!), and Robin "not really getting stuck, just pretending, honest!" on a changeover. Possibly the best part of the trip was later in the Black Lion at Talybont.
Due to the fact that there were no ladders and only one rope after the others had taken what they wanted we were fairly limited in our choice of cave—pots being more or less out in the circumstances.
Got to Kingsdale, climbed into the newly purchased wetsuit socks and looked for my boots—no boots; so decided to wear some suede shoes. (Actually the boots in question were returned in the transit to Nos Nibor in a very clean and totally unused state. Perhaps the goddess had forgotten to put in her contact lenses?).
Grovelled along underground, got wet, grovelled some more, got wetter. Came to a window on the left, Paul's light went out, so as a true martyr I gave him mine. Walked back into the valley as the sun set. Truly wonderful.
A small group braved the cold to have a quick look at Yordas Cave just up the valley. The cave was totally transformed from the previous suemmer, although the path itself wasn't too wet looking in the lower (ex-show cave) entrance the 20–30 foot waterfall pitches were incredible—we had free climbed them with little difflculty. Now the only way would be to rig a traverse line. Gave up and went to the Craven Heifer and later to Clapham to meet the other group and drink some more.
Flood Entrance—Gaping Ghyll
Once again A.C.C. attempt to reach Gaping Ghyll Main Chamber. This time a little less ambitious route is chosen—Flood Entrance via South East Pot.
Trudged up to the top of the path, wandered around a bit, then three cavers emerged who told us which hole to go down. Changed in the fading daylight, then down into the depths below. The first pitch was soon laddered, followed by a quick grovel and climb to pitch 2—a nice free hanging abseil. Found the 140 foot pitch to the ledge on the Bar Pot—Gaping Ghyll crawl and fucked around for about two and a half hours. Rigged the ladders and rope, then with the expression of a condemned man Tim disappeared from view. Lots of muffled shouts, then Paul followed. Even more muffled shouts this time, but when we pulled the rope up the S.R.T. rig was there as promised. Wrapped up in bondage gear I descended and soon realised what the shouting was about. The stream which gurgled through the cave became a freezing, strength sapping rush of water as it cascaded over the pitch. Realising that the other ladder contingent had no hope I continued to the ledge where Tim and paul were hopping around to keep warm.
The return up the pitch was worse. The rope had snagged on a flake which resulted in a nightmarish saw-saw-saw as I bounced. An attempt at laddering was beaten by the water, so a nerve-wracking ascent of the rope was made. Any attempt at laddering resulted in eyes, nose, lungs, etc. full of water. Never has the top of a pitch been so welcome.
Exciting the system and dragging the gear out used up most of our remaining strength. Surfaced at half past twelve to find the advanced cave rescue team (Hywel & Co.) coming looking for a bit of blood. Sorry but we had to disappoint them after they'd walked all the way onto the moor under the influence of alcohol.
Having not done flood entrance yesterday it was our turn for adventure—that awe-inspiring cavern of Rowten Pot being the objective. Yorkshire being what it is with its multitudes of cavers, someone else had got there first and rigged the 220' main shaft so we teamed up with 2 lads from London to do the pot in steps—40' abseil beside waterfall to a dry traverse onto the rock bridge in the main shaft on an exposed ledge. I succeeded in cocking up at the rebelay 10' below the ledge by abseiling onto the top loop of rope alongside the rebelay, and then jamming my chest jammer. I eventually extricated myself and all was well—perhaps I should have practised before I tried—but who does? It waan't possible to go down any further than the main shaft due to the volume of water falling down—a common problem in Yorkshire at this time of year.
Dave, Martin and Grav started changing but then wimped out—probably a good decision as we never actually reached the entrance shaft, just spend an hour crawling through icy water until we abandoned the trip. On the way back we had a quick look into Valley Entrance as far as first pitch.
Dave, Martin and Grav hitched a lift to the Graven Hefier with a film cameraman who'd mislaid his sound recordist. He mentioned his name was Sid Perou but it meant nothing to our three ignoramuses until the rest of the party explained its significance to them later on.
Another first descent for ACC. It was one of those long lazy Saturday afternoons when even ceefax went off the air. Much amusement amongst the villagers as we entered the culvert behind the bus-stop in Llanbadarn Square clad in wetsuits etc. A thousand foot of crawling in the 2' high drain under straws (and a little curtain) leached from the concrete brought us to the exit by the industrial estate. Beware the vicious, blind cave trout—they go for your knees.
A chaotic evening at the Black Lion commenced by Paul helping Elaine re-live her caving experiences with realism by tipping a pint of lager over her. This set the standard for the rest of the evening. The huge quantity of bright orange cabbage curry went down very well, helped by THE PUNCH. (Recipe for future reference—take an eight gallon brewing bin, empty 2 bottles vodka, 1 bottle Malibu, 1 bottle gin and 1 bottle Martini into it, add a gallon of mixed fruit juice and a few pounds each of chopped apples, oranges and bananas. Top up to brim with cider. Serve in pint glasses). As the punch was consumed, the night detoriorated.Ian threw rice and punch over everyone and lots of people pucked—in the sink, in the inside loo, in the outside loo, in the yard, over the landlord's car, in the hall, on the doorstep, on the pavement. People gradually crashed out, some in more squalid conditions than others—Sophie and Grav vere found frozen together in the "Little Room", huddled under a ripped blanket and a piece of carpet underlay. What can I say? I suppose it is 1984 after all.
In the morning the landlady called round and was dismayed at the state of the place (it was all Elaine's fault). Drinking the remaining stock of booze commenced in the afternoon:
- 1.00 p.m.
- Elaine "Come and learn Irish Dancing!" (boing! boing!) (drinking wine)
Sophie "Oh my head!" (taking aspirins)
- 2.00 p.m.
- Elaine "Groan, oh my head!" (taking aspirins)
Sophie (Bounce! bounce!) (drinking cider)
- 2.00 p.m.
- Elaine "Oh my head!" (clutching empty aspirin bottle)
Moral of the Master of the Lore: Freshers shouldn't drink if they can't take the consequences.
The ultimate hangover cure! Though by the time we reached Cwmystwyth the voting vas 2 for and 2 against—by default we went underground. Decided to push Crossroads Level—had been turned back by lack of ladders in October. In through lov entrance, along crosscut to second lode and up 25' fixed rope in stope on left. Back along a higher crosscut southwards and through a stope to a chain hanging down a 10' stope. At bottom was the winze which had defeated us last time. It proved to be 35' deep and lead to a drivage westwards which brought us to Taylor's Shaft—a fine sight looking up 100' shaft with original side timbering. Just before the shaft a stope on the left had another fixed rope hanging down. This led 20' up to Upper Cross Roads Level which provides the exit of the through trip! Examined top of Taylor's shaft and decided to return next time with a 4' scaffolding pole belay to abseil it next time.
Abortive trip to Monks Cave, a sea cave in cliffs south of Aberystwyth.
Entrance to level through drifts of smelly leaves, leads to two 60' pitches to water filled stope on left by a steel hand winch). The level stops at a collapse in the false floors not the flooded Engine Shaft—pipework can be seen going down into water. The level can be seen to continue the far side.
We then waded the river and looked at the Alltddu Deep Adit, but this is collapsed a few yards in.
Walked up hillside to narrow gauge railway where there are ruins of mine dressing mills. A damp crosscut adit behind them—the Rhiwrhigos Middle Adit—leads to two stopes, the first having really horendous false floors, especially to the left.
Another beautiful day, and a moving trip for myself—returning to a place where many of my childhood hours were spent, frolicking amongst the flowery meadows, dabbling in babbling brooks, and scaring my mother shitless in old shafts. Here I was again, eleven years older. The entrance crosscut is above the topmost dumps and leads to two crossroads. At the first, a long drivage to the right leads to a flooded winze, while to the left is another flooded winze, with the remains of a windlass at the top. At the second crossroads to the right, is a flooded stope and to the left a ladderroad down. Beyond it is a shaft to surface and a loop of passage back to the flooded winze with the windlass.
The ladderoad is about 80' tall in 3 stages and in really good condition. At the bottom is a winze into a huge black hole the size of Mulu. I abseiled down far enough to see the floor at a depth of 90' but didn't land—but it looks very interesting!
For the third day running we were underground! Roomy, damp adit crosscut with rails inplace lead 160m past nice formations to a timbered section and a 20m long stope with flase floors. The whole chamber seems unstable; the best path is around to the left to re-join the crosscut which is wet and again well decorated. It leads to a collapsed stope and ends as a trial crosscut. Certainly one of the best decorated mines I have seen.
Underground again! I Found the Coed Shaft halfway up the dumps on the north side of the hill, below thee hillfort, belayed to a tree, and Kev abbed down—much nose of falling rocks. I followed him to find him in a stop 50' down on the edge of an inclined section of the shaft continuing down. The stope continued south into the hill but had collapsed, to the north the level was blind. Having used up all our ladders we had to return to the surface and the pouring rain.
Impromptu afternoon to do the crossroads through trip. Took time to examine all the side passages but didn't find anything long or spectacular. Chris and Rob returned to collect tackle off first two pitches—Chris "white stick" Stayte contriving to fall 15' on 1st pitch to avoid helping Rob retrieve gear—"I think I've hurt my ankle..." Then out into the driving rain and black night, too poor to stop at the Halfway Inn.
The entrance to what we thought was the campus main storm drain is in a small wooded glen with babbling brook and birds all-a-twitter, etc. (The Principle's Garden)—Up a 60° algae covered ramp into a 2½' high tunnel with settling troughs at the bottom. Further progrsss is difficult due to the pipe narrowing to 10 inches diameter. As a consolation prize we visited the manhole in the centre of the running track on the way home. Forced our way down through a small grill (no obstacle to eager cavers) and descended the 15' ladder all the way to the bottom of this little gem of a pothole.
The evening started in an unusual fashion—Cathy, Marie and I getting changed into "evening—formal drees" outside Cathy's car next to the Quarry! Arrived at the hotel in Wells and commenced to drink with great vigour—by the time we sat down to dinner we were well gone. The Aberystwyth-ex-Aber table seemed to have the most wine on it—an average of a bottle each it appeared. The food was fairly good—but it was felt the vegetarian meal was a little lacking in imagination. Egg Mayonaise followed by Eggs Mornay then Syllabub (made with egg whites !)—it was filling though and the vegetables were good.
The crux of the evening vas the award we "surprisingly" received—The "Silver Toe Cap Award" and sick-bag to the club which has caused the maximum inconvenience over the last year or so—it would seem the only emergency service we haven't called out is the coastguard. (Were they, we wondered, putting forth a challenge? I doubt it).
A slide show was accompanied by more drinking and then back to the cottage. The rest of that memorable night defies description but I think we exorcised many demons from Fairy Cave Quarry and Cerberus during it.
Changed into wetsuits at Nos Nibor and walked over to the selected manhole in parc Avenue. We set up official-looking yellow tape and road works lamps around the hole and dropped down into the water. A 2' high stone arch went off, so down we crawled in 6" inches of water on top of 6" of "mud". After 20' an inlet over a wier on the right was seen to have dubious looking objects and bog paper. Complaining that it wasn't a stormdrain after all, Rob and Dave swiftly exited. Meanwhile the intrepid duo crawled on. After 500' chip fat stals and gour pools were passed (obviously we were under the chippy at the roundabout). At 1000' the passage enlarged to stooping height and a little later to walking size. We then emerged into a series of large arched chambers with central supporting pillars linked by 3' diameter pipes—obviously the sewage holding chambers at the harbour for when the tide is in. At about 3000', by mutual consent, we turned back, overcome by the indescribable smell of the waist-deep sewage we were now wading through. Wildlife seen on the return trip included big fat leeches and an 8 inch eel (which Robin put his hand on). The crawl back through the now disturbed "mud" was unpleasant to say the least, especially for Robin who opened his mouth at the wrong moment and tasted it. Robin and Chris finally emerged at the manhole in Parc Avenue to an anxiously waiting Dave and Rob (imagine telling the CRO where the missing two had gone!). We all squelched up to Court Mawr for showers, wondering why people were crossing the street to avoid us, and irretreviably polluted the showers in the flat next to Rob's. "A good trip!".
Changed in freezing cold, struggled up tips and went directly down crosscut to ladderoad. At bottom belayed to large iron bolt in wall. After 15' the winze belled out into "Mulu" stope, and at 60' reached an unstable looking ledge next to a 40' drop to the flooded stope bottom. To the right the false floors had collapsed, but to the left, down scree was a level. After 200' a superb underground intact headgear (complete with cages) standing over a flooded winze was found. Beyond the level continued a long way but it was only a blind trial. Really excellent remains!
Slogged our way up Copper Hill, stopping firstly at Taylor's level for Raif and Kev to wade "moustache deep" to confirm the entrance was sumped, and secondly at Herberts Level to show the newcomers the awesom stope and 100' waterfall from surface.
Up the last bit to Bonsall's Level, the only true Copper Hill Level still open. A wet entrance leads to a few hundred feet of drivage with no stopes and some short side passages. Towards the back was our objective—the 75' rise to Abraham's Level (blocked at surface). Si Hughes had been up in 1973 and had left a dubious rope in place, and also a ladder (now a heap of rust on the floor). Raif gingerly prussicked up this rope, lifelined by Rob to a scaffolding pole set across the passage. Every shaft timber he passed, he looped the lifeline over, though how much good they would have done in a fall I don't know. After ten minutes we were relieved to hear the cry "I'm up!" He hauled up the ladders and rigged the shaft for us to join him. At the top we found the fixed rope was belayed to an incredibly small, very rusty peg: ignorance is bliss! To the right the passage had collapsed after a few yards. To the left was about 500' of quite roomy passage leading to a fall. A 20' rise at 450' and a slope deads at 300' connected to 30' higher level—the most horrific deads I've yet crawled through (roof, floor and walls)—the props "holding the roof up" had rotted away completely for their bottom few inches: held up by antigravity obviously! We managed at the inner end to climb a further 10' up deads only to find the roof completely blocked.
Really good turnout—Alison, Warren, Sophie, Elaine, Rob, Chris, Carruthers, Grav, Raif, Cathy, Karl Marx (Dave), Andy, Hazel, Paul Wagstaff, Jane, Martin, Dave, Tim, Sara, Jaz, Robin, Lee, Dug, Underwood, Kev, Meloney, Savita, Marshall, Ieuan, Paul Flynn and Angela. After "cocktails" at the Downies we went across the road to the Indian for £99-32 worth of curries. Then—"Hark! Are those sleigh bells I hear?". Father Xmas Stayte, Rudolph the red-fanged reindeer (Sara) and Ieuan the gnome ho-ho-ho'd and distributed presents as tradition demands. They included a neoprene cheque to Bat Products for Robin, a DIY Goddess kit for Alison including a halo, photos of butch women for Elaine, and guards' flags for the "Railway Children" (Lee and Jane).
The AA said the road was treacherous—only travel if an emergency—but it was; caving doesn't stop for anything! The roads were clear of both snow and cars until we reached Crickhowell. After last orders at the Bridgend we tried the direct assault on Whitewalls but failed because of the snow and ice. So we backtracked and succeeded in approaching it from the east but still had to abandon the car half a mile from the cottage. Next morning we trecked through the snow to Aggie. Cathy, Hywel, Grav and I went for a look up Turkey Streamway to Turkey Pool and also down the Main Streamway. It was my first caving trip—both enjoyable and frightening (at times). We emerged after eight hours and made it to the pub, but the others who had gone to do the Grand Circle emerged mnch later, although they hadn't got too badly lost in the boulder chokes. We didn't do much the following day on account of the weather (and more especially on account of the frozen wetsuits).
Sitting in a micropaleo prac getting bored witless picking forams when in comes the secretary: "Are Raif Evans and Rob Jones here? There's a mine rescue call out!" Making the most of the situation, out we swaggered. Outside we were brought down to earth with a bump—"There's a sheep stuck in a flooded level at Cwmerfin". Oh well, it'll be good practice. Rounded up soem gear and drove out with Tim—be useful on those occasions if we had a flasing light... Got to Cwmerfin eventually only to find that the sheep had swam out by itself. Still, it was a grand exit from a lecture!
Departed Aber in a dense cloud of blue smoke in the ailing OTT trannie and travelled the Mid Wales mystery route, succeeded in loosing a wing mirror and acquiring some new scratches en route. Boiled dry at Aust Services and limped onwards an hour later having demolished the garage hosepipe. Just about made it to Cerberus to he met by Dave Eyre and his "friendly banter" (translate as a torrent of abuse).
Manor Farm Swallet
"There aren't many down there—only 14 or 15" said the farmer. All our premonitions came true when we found the entrance shaft full of the 38th Gloucester Boy Scouts abseiling down with the most amazing rig employing the most number of rub points possible—then they put a 25' ladder down the 45' pitch for their exit...
A bit of a crawl then free-climbable September rift and waterfall bypass to the bottom. On way back up got entangled in a third party—We were glad to climb out of the crowded hole at the end.
Slithered down to the huge main chamber—really glorious—and ambled down to the sump. Watched Rob and Tim making wallies of themselves trying to fix the bolts and then up the 15' ladder. Got entangled in a group of six other cavers who dithered so much over the duck that Hazel and I got too cold to go through. Rob and Harry then spent ages taking photos in the sump. We got frozen through waiting for what seemed like hours until the inconsiderate photographers returned. I warmed up on the return journey and it got rather enjoyable but I was knackered by the end. Apart from the cold, a bloody good cave—I sball reach the end next time!
Later on, after the pub, noises were heard from the quary and we discovered a group of cavers trying to break into one of the gated caves with sledgehammers—their leader turned to be one Bob Lewis from Bristol. Curious that he has had a letter published in the latest descent on the subject of gating and access to caves. Cerberus vigilantes watched the Quarry for some hours afterwards. Sunday—much tea drinking then lunch at the Hunters. Spent all afternoon searching unsuccessfully for entrances to the Box Stone Mines and avoiding gamekeepers. Moral: don't trust everything you read in guide books. As a consolation we stopped for an Indian in Bristol on the way home.
The Rag Fancy Dress was coming up, so in response the Carruthers Design Studio produced a classic bat costume—black card ears and mask and black dustbin liner wings. The Nos Nibor Factory began churning them out in four standard sizes for the ACC colony of bats. Made a real impression on everyone as we bip-bip-bipped our way through the dance floor—if they'd still been giving prizes for group entries, we'd surely have won easily! By the end of the night Stayte et al were suffering agonies with blisters—moral: never dance in tights and army boots.
It was the coldest day of the year so we went to try and bottom Glog Fawr Engine Shaft. Abseiled 260' directly down to the 20 fm landing and, belaying to the angle bob, started on down the inclined shaft. No workings accessible fro the 33 fm landing so on down to 45 fm landing. Superb remains from here on down—kibble road, wrought iron pump rods on sheaves, ladderroad, 10 inch rising main with clack valve boxes, and telegraph cable. We were obviously the first people down since closure in the 1880's since everything we touched moved. Highlights—Robin running up a ladder but remaining stationary as it slid down beneath him (not so funy when he reached the top of the ladder), and Tim dodging 15' iron pumprods as they slithered down the incline. I had the closest call—prusicking back up onto the 45 fm level I hauled myself up on a large sheet iron tram, only to find it starting to slide down onto me. My rope was snagged underneath it, and the ladder I was standing on starting to disintegrate. Only very quick action by Robin saved me. The tram made a hell of a noise as it bounced down 30' before jamming diagonally across the shaft—most worrying for Tim who was down on the 60 fm level wondering what the hell vas happening. We got as far as the 60 fm level (500' deep) but had to turn back because both Raif and Robin were green at the gills—Raif even vomited whilst prussicking the vertical first 260' of the shaft. We left a lot of potential going in this shaft—it doen't reach adit level until the 95 fm level—710' deep—and we didn't investigate most of the side passages.
We emerged aftar twelve hours to a temperature of -35°: our clothing froze instantly. Too tired to haul the tackle up the last pitch we abandoned everything until the morning.
Next day a crowd of tourists came to help us haul the tackle sacks out of our "bottomless pit"—Dino, H, Alison, Spot, Paine, Sheila, Stayte, Carruthers, Elaine, Hywel, Joe and Abdul. Robin and Abdul went down as far as the 20 fm level to take photos whilst the rest of us went skating on the old reservoir pond. Monday saw us washing a million feet of rope in a Cwrt Mawr Bath.
Bounced our way to Chelthenham in the trannie (having told the A.U. it was a "Chilterns Trip"—plausable, eh?) to collect Dave Eyre and to sample the 6X. Later we all squeezed into Dino's flat to crash out. Saturday saw us in Forbidden Planet and the Natural History Museum before returning to Berko for the party—supposed to be fancy dress—Judge Carruthers' (He is the Law!) outfit was one of the better attempts, but got some strange looks on the streets of Berko. The party went on and on and on, the flat got wrecked and we all crashed out. In the afternoon we roused sufficiently to walk around the castle and along the canal. Then it was the gruelling drive back to Aber.
Down to Penwyllt on Saturday morning for tea, and then into OFD and up into the Nith Bran Series which none of us had been in before. We ended up doing a fairly evil "bold-step" which the shorter-legged of us contemplated for a bit whilst gathering courage. Thrutched down to the stream, however it eventually proved impassible in both directions so we had to climb all the way up again and do the traverse again. We emerged into the evening mist to meet Alison and Dave Eyre for yet more tea.
Sunday saw a morning of lethargy and tea, but we roused sufficiently in the afternoon to look at the entrance of Little Neath, White Lady, Town Drain, etc. in the high water conditions.
Whilst Alison "went to Cerberus and watched people blowing up rocks to make caves", the rest of the club wined and dined in the approved traditional manner at the Downies Vaults and Light of Asia respectively.
We drove through snow and hail (via Robin's house) to a heat exchanger cunningly disguised as a "camping barn" at Abney Farm. The scene—nine people huddled together on a wooden platform in a small stone shed, body heat was the only thing that kep us all in the land of the living. Into Buxton to visit Caving Supplies to spend the last of our grants and then off into the snow-covered wastes to get underground.
Giant's Hole 16.3.85
Between us we paid a staggering £8.00 to go down—a bloody rip-off! A nice easy start, a 25' pitch and then a walking-sideways rift passage which went on for ages and ages and ages and a bit more. But the scallops were pretty impressive—it's a good job I liked them because there were a hell of a lot of them. Down some cascades to the sump, and then up into a bouldery area of large fossil chambers where we turned back, being unsure of the way on. The trip was the same as the way in; pretty amazing really. The wetsuits worked anyway.
We changed in really freezing temperatures—our wetsuits froze as soon as they came off. After the pub we went to Sophie' s house which turned out to be a superb gothic ducal hunting lodge overlooking the Ladybower Reservoir: absolute luxury after the bloody barn! We really appreciated it—caving huts will never be the same again.
P.8 Cave 17.3.85
A slightly reduced party due to the delights of Sophie's house ventured forth into the dazzling snow to do P.8. Despite the sun, lots of ice in the entrance. Mainly a rift streamway with cascades and a 25' pitch leading to high level traverses to bypass a second pitch. Then some grovelling, an iron ladder, more streamway and the sump. Many snapshots were taken, but the amount of water vapour in the air from recent parties ruined most of the shots. The water was absolutely freezing—not helped by frozen wetsuits from Saturday. Returned to Sophie's for tea and lingered around, unwilling to start the long return trip to Aber. As dusk fell, Sophie was tinkling on the piano and snow was falling on the pine trees outside, the lake very grey in the distance—it could have been Scotland or Bavaria... Rivelin Cottage is easily the finest place we've ever stayed whilst caving.
After wimping out of abseiling the Engine Shaft last time. I was determined to go down this time. I stood and gazed with quaking knees as one person after another descended into the depths. Then it was my turn; clipping myself on, I took a deep breath and crept over the edge. To take my mind off the pitch I threw rocks at those waiting below. Although it must have been the slowest abseil of all time it was worth it to see the mud formations in the Middle Level. Rob took a group of photos of everyone in front of the famous waterwheel and then spent ages taking other photos after we went out: Dave Forrow "volunteered" to help him.
A nice quiet Sunday afternoon stroll—I only had to take my hands out of my pockets once or twice. These Northwalians sure can make a good mine—the passages were all at least 7' high and the chambers just out of this world; lots of good mining relics too. We did a good round trip—down one incline, through the workings, and up the other incline (see plan, Thrutch Vol. 10). Rob took our photo at the entrance and at a compressed air plant underground—by skillfully kicking the tripod he got a double exposure which, not surpirsingly, doubled the numaber of people in the photo—made us look a really big club.
Ieuan was heard to complain loudly and at great length about getting wet to his knees.
Examined Goginan drainage adit, tried to find Bryn Pica Mine, fixed Abdul's radiator, broke his handbrake and photogaphed a trial level. The van then caught a puncture and we broke the jack. Eventually reached our objective—Lefel Newydd, but Abdul had forgotten his wetsuit. Realising the Gods were against us we gave up and went to the chippy.
In God's truth it all happened as he says!—Abdul.
A "break from revision" trip to Penderyn (WSG Cottage)—first pub stop was the Weston Vaults before we'd even picked some people up. Two more stops on the way and then Apocalypse until the wee hours.
Pant Mawr Pot 27.4.85
Four WSG members set off ahead of us, carrying our tackle whilst we sat in t'hut and drank tea—really good sherpa service! Then we set out. Changed at car park by Little Neath (which was too wet to try) and trudged across a featureless moor in circles until we met the WSG party—also lost. Eventually found it by the time we were melting in our wetsuits despite the cold day. Straightforward 50' abseil and walk down streamway via two boulder chokes. Spectacular formations in Great Hall, cathedral and Vestibule—the best I've seen. Breezed down to the sump and back but Wagstaff got us lost in the second boulder choke for half an hour. On way back over moor found a huge bloated gas-filled carcass of a cow which had died in calf. Stayte (the great zoologist) pronounced it dead. Flynn risked his life (and ours) by kicking it—it boomed like a drum. Fortunately it didn't explode! The evening saw renewed drinking and Apocalypse. The WSG members invited us to a "Wild West" party near Salisbury—unfortunately it was during the exams. Later on, a drunken Grav was seen to show his willy to Melanie.
Ogof y Ci 28.4.85
Crawled in upper entrance, up a few hundred yards of streamway to an aven. Then a hundred yards of streamway which rapidly degenerated to a crawl. All rather uninspiring unless you like crawling in gravel and water!
Moved on up the valley and at SN 0387/1072 found a NEW CAVE on Eastbank of river—120' of flat-out bedding plane crawls to a low chamber ending a boulder choke. Two tubes off chamber—one sumped, other is mainly tight and muddy for 100' until it closes deen in mud and water. We probably weren't the first people into it, but it was interesting to find a "new" site.
Before returning to transit had a look into Rhyd Sych—dived through duck and crawled/slithered as far as first mud chamber but were too unsure of way on to continue.
Spent the evening in the Lamb at Penderyn and ended it with an Apocalypse session until nearly dawn.
Craig-y-Dinas Silica Mines 29.4.85
Comparable to the catacombs—large, almost horizontal, mine about 8' high with the occasional pillar of rock holding roof up. Lower levels are flooded. Not much of interest apart from a winch at the top of one of the inclines. Possible to do a through trip out to the back of the hill.
The two Pauls were observed to go rock climbing in preference to underground. We also looked at three potential digging sites in the west cliff of the gorge—all were walking size fossil passages ending in mud or sand chokes.
Ogof Pasg 29.4.85
Walked in, scrambled over boulders and down a short crawl to the 15' pitch. Dave and Rob took photos and so didn't get wet wading/crawling to the back of the cave. The sump (to which the crawl and pitch are a bypass) was down so we exited through it and all got extremely muddy. Those who hadn't visited the cave before were sent off up the Rabbit Hole to see the non-existent "crystal grotto"—an old trick but one which never fails. They returned cursing horribly having crawled up 200' of flat-out mud and sand crawls to a desperate dig.
Anticipating a quiet day we arose late and washed the transit after the South Wales trip; Rob observed "There's a quarter of a tank of petrol left". Chris further observed "That's enough for Cwmystwyth and back". So we found ourselves setting out for a few leasurely hours of photography in Lefel Fawr before going to the Cwps in the evening.
Spent a long while taking stock photographs of the ore chutes, stulls near the incline, etc. and also "gardening" the shots—moving rocks, laying rails, etc. Then the last photograph—the Incline. Rob abseiled down firing flashes off every few yards. Now we had been told in the past that the Incline was completely flooded at the bottom, but Rob observed that there seemed to be an unexpected side passage going off just above water level. He excitedly shouted the newe up to me, so I packed the camera and tripod up and followed him down.
Unfortunately I dropped part of the tripod down the Incline—but it wasn't too badly damaged!
There seemed to be miles and miles of workings, in at least four lodes, every junction we came to seemed to lead to yet more until we started to hope we wouldn't reach any more junctions! Eventually of course we reached the ends—blocked by Falls, or flooded, but we actually got lost returning to the Incline. A really superb find!
We struggled back up the Incline and, expecting it to be about seven o'clock, Chris went to the adit crosscut to see if it was dusk yet. It was pitch black! Had the entrance collapsed? We waded out—no, it hadn't. We rushed back to Aber without changing and straight to the Coopers. It was 11.15 p.m. The talk of the assembled club was of callouts and rescues—we were greeted with relief and the expected abuse. Still, we got a pint and Elfed didn't seem to mind us dripping all over bis bar. Obviously there's a time-warp in Cwmystwyth!
A totally offputting start to 9 scouts' caving careers—their average height was 4'6" and the maximum water depth was 5'0". Got them in as far as the Manway in Level 6, one had to be carried to prevent drowning! Lifelined a few up the ladder, by which time the rest were frozen, saw sense and gave up. That's nine less potential cavers in the world!
We were quietly having a pint in the Cwps when Cerberus stickers suddenly appeared all over the place—Eyre, Jasper and A.N. Other had arrived for a weekend's mining. Had an Indian and then broke into Abergeldie. On Saturday had a look around Cwmystwyth (Lefel Fawr) and Ystrad Einion and on Sunday did the Wemyss Deep Adit at Frongoch—a very wet trip.
Minutes of A.G.M. of A.C.C. held at 7.00 p.m. at the Downies Vaults, 16.5.85
- The Minutes of the last AGM were not read.
- The new committee was voted in, results as follows:
President Candidate Proposed Seconded Votes Grav Chris Paul Flynn 12 (+1 postal) Elaine Sara Alison 4 (+2 postal) Paul Flynn Paul Wagstaff Jayne 2 Paul Wagstaff Paul Flynn Dave Forrow 1 Leonie Martin (postal) Sophie Joe (postal) and 4 candidates Secretary Candidate Proposed Seconded Votes Paul Flynn Sara Ieuan 3 (+1 postal) Dave Forrow Chris Dave 2 Paul Wagstaff Dave Grav 5 Sophie Joe (postal) Elaine 1 (+1 postal) Elaine Hish (postal) Jayne 4 (+1 postal) +5 candidates +2 abstentions Treasurer Candidate Proposed Seconded Votes Elaine Hish (postal) Hazel 1 (+1 postal) Sophie Lira (postal) Elaine 1 (+1 postal) Dave Forrow Joe (postal) Alison 7 (+1 postal) Paul Flynn Dave Jayne 6 Jane Paul Wagstaff Grav 1 +5 candidates +2 abstentions Minister without Portfolio Candidate Proposed Seconded Votes Paul Flynn Lira (postal) Cathy 3 (+1 postal) Elaine Hish (postal) Tim 1 (+1 postal) Tim Savita Sara 5 Sophie Martin (postal) Hazel 6 (+1 postal) Doug Alison Cathy 2 +5 candidates +1 abstention Thrutch/Librarian Candidate Proposed Seconded Votes Leonie & Jane Rob Alison 21 +2 candidates Social Secretary Candidate Proposed Seconded Votes Elaine Hish (postal) Martin (postal) 22 (+2 postal) +1 candidate Publicity Officer Candidate Proposed Seconded Votes Paul Flynn Cathy Alison 22 +1 candidate Switzerland Trip Organiser Candidate Proposed Seconded Votes Doug Alison Cathy 6 Savita Paul Flynn Chris 15 +2 candidates Foreign Consul Candidate Proposed Seconded Votes Hazel Alison Chris 22 +1 candidate Tackle & Lights Candidate Proposed Seconded Votes Tim Alison Chris 22 +1 candidate Cave Conservation Officer Candidate Proposed Seconded Votes Paul Flynn Alison Sara 19 Si Hughes Ieuan Grav 3 +1 candidate
Life membership were granted to
Nominee For Against Abstentions Sara 21 1 0 Rob 19 3 0 Savita 15 0 7
Any other business
- Paul Flynn—Bat Conservation—"That we should actively recognise the important role of bat conservation and our potential for playing a major role in this. For example: the installation of bat boxes within the area's mines and the promotion within national and international caving circles of sufficient consideration for bats to render our presence in caves at the very least non-detremental and hopefully beneficial. Supported by Tony Jones of the Nature Conservancy Council. Benefits of proposal—(a) to generate money for the caving club from the National Farmers Union. They stand to gain from the subsequent benefit they will receive in terms of diminished insect population which would alleviate sheep and cattle health problems, particualarly mastitus. (b) The generation of a healthy relationship with the Conservation Volunteers which can only benefit the vigour and financial stability of the Caving Club". Passed unanimously.
- Cathy Howarth & Alison Platt—"It is considered unnecessary to prolong the archaic hierachy system whithin Aberystwyth Caving Club. We believe that this undermines the democracy of the club and the inalienable rights of all people for freedom within it. We propose to abandon this tradition and ensure that each person within the club has equal rights and opportunities". Passed—17 for; 6 against.
- Rob and Chris' proposal to devise a new hierachy was conclusively defeated—2 for; 21 against.
- Elaine proposed we move the venue of the meal from the Light of Asia defeated—9 for; 12 against.
- Paul Wagstaff proposed a number of safety/1st Aid measures:
- 1st Aid Kit levy of £3 per head—passed—22 for; 1 abstention.
- Subside 50% of cost of sending one person on a suitable course at Whernside Manor—passed 10 for; 5 against; 6 abstentions.
- Information on 1st Aid courses to be obtained and all personnel encouraged to attend such a course—passed unanimously.
- Hish (obviously infatuated) proposed the name of the club be altered from Aberystwyth CC to Elaine CC—defeated—4 for; 19 against.
- Alison proposed Ieuan as male chauvinist pig of the year, but was not seconded.
- Grav proposed we end the meeting and get More Beer—passed—17 for; 6 against.
Obviously a successful AGM—the Naughty Boys achieved a 90% success rate in their predictions—and with free elections too. Notable that there were no women elected to the higher committee, unlike the previous year.
We then adjourned to the Indian. The after-dinner speeches were short to non-existent now that the Lira's influence had been removed. The outgoing President's utterance by Sara in the prescribed form vas—"It has been an ENTHUSIASTIC year". After more drinking in the Downies, the traditionalists went for the customary drinking/swimming session on the beach at Alex before repairing to Abergeldie.
Took a troupe of Girl Guides through Crossroads as part of the price of borrowing some tents for the summer expedition. We didn't loose one of them.
Thursday evening saw Marshall taking Chris and Dave down to his flat on the Gower for a heavy session of Barley Wine and Apocalypse. The following day they were taken on a conducted tour of Marshall's office in Swansea (for five minutes) and then went to the seaside at Caswell Bay. Dave received a nasty bite from a basking mutie-gator in ye Black Bristol Channel, Richard was menaced by vicious blue jellfish and Chris (Fergee) Stayte battered numerous grockles with his club. In the evening Rob arrived and the drinking/apocalypse continued. On Saturday morning Dave had his foot amputated, and in the afternoon the rest of us went caving.
Tooth Cave, or a tale of woe 6.7.85
Phoned SWCC to enguire about the key to the cave and were given the keyholder's address. None of the locals had ever heard of it but we found it after driving around for 1½ hours—Norman Lloyd, Barlands Cottage, Church Lane, Kittle. (Tel. Bishopston 2615). NGR SS 5772/8964 for future reference. Drove over to Parkmill, changed, and walked 3/4 mile to the entrance which is a slot in the base of a small cliff. Short grovel to a 15' pitch which the book assured us required only a handline. From there on the cave was fairly horrible—crawling, often flat out—for about 1,000'. Stayte got "stuck" in a vertical right angle bend but Rob re-positioned his arm with a sinister "crack" and Stayte immediately proclaimed "It's okay—I can get through by myself now!" amazing what a little bit of brutality can achieve.
The final approach to the streamway was by swimming through gravel—you dug it from in front of you and pushed it behind you. The streamway however vas streamless. The only water we could find to cool our wetsuits was in the downsteam sump. The return trip was equally unpleasant. At the pitch we found ourselves too muddy and too tired to climb up the rope over the arkward overhand. Richard however was desperate. He succeeded in bridging up the 6' wide chamber (his voice went up 3½ octaves and he rolled the whites of his eyes) to exit and get us a ladder. Definitely a "collector's cave"—I'll show anyone the entrance. There then followed a muddy car ride across the Cursed Earth Rad-Lands to wash-off in ye Black Bristol Channel. And so back to chez Marshall and the Joiner's Arms for yet more Apocalypse.
We departed Richard's, had tea in Rob's parents and then visited the GOLD Mines. Rob had visited them a mere ten years before and was mystified at the changes; "they've moved the car park" and worse—"they've gated that adit", "they've capped that shaft", etc. etc. It seems that Cardiff University are running the place as a show mine—"only" £1.70 a head. But the guide mentioned to us ("unofficially of course") various holes which they hadn't gated. So we explored the Upper and Lower Roman Adits—both hand cut and in inverted trapezoid in cross-section and led to moderate size stopes. We also looket at a few small adits and trials, five in number.
And so it came to pass that once again Aberystwyth Caving Club did set forth from their humble abodes in the Land of our Fathers and elsewhere for their annual sortie to the West of Ireland for fun and frolics.
This year we found, to our surpirse, that the trip seemed to be rather popular and so, after much wheeling and dealing and great expense, not one, but two transits were commissioned to carry the intrepid explorers, board-gamers and piss-artists to the land of Guinness and Guinness (and caves).
- Transit One—Andy, Cathy, Hywel, Alison, Paul Wagstaff, Dave Forrow, H, and many hitching people collected on the way.
- Tranit Two—(some 12 hours later)—Ieuan, Marshall, Lisa, Chris, Bev, Hazel, Carruthers, Tim, Paul Flynn, Grav, Lira, Spot, Payne, Fenton, Dave Eyre.
- In conjunction—Doug (cycling), Jaz (cycling), Sara (cycling), John (mini specialing), Marie (train).
- and already resident—the one and only Bunce.
Transit one, despite a ferry delayed by fog, reached Kilshanny Caving Centre, by 5.45 p.m. on Saturday. Transit two, sporting a number of People's Committee T-Shirts, had a more adventurous crossing on their Irish ferry—a sealink ferry asked for right of way to land at Rosslare first. The second officer gave this request due consideration, and then sent a sailor (from whom Skyn had the tale) out to hoist up the Republic's flag and ordered more steam and beat it into harbour!
The truly abysmal weather resulted in a vast amount of drinking and, of course, Apocalypse. Fortunately we were camped next to McGann's Bar at Doolin, so it wasn't too bad. We were a little surprised to be bought a free round by the staff at McGann's at the end of the fortnight. Buth then we worked out we'd spend about £2,000 on Guinness, so they didn't do too badly out of us!
The holiday was characterised by three games—good ol' Apocalypse; the Judge Dredd Game; and that accursed pursuit for all the family:
The Rules—How to Play
- The game must be started by a zoom.
- A schwartz passes it back to the player who zoomed whilst looking at him/her.
- A vigliano passes it back to the player who zoomed while looking at another player.
- A snort passes it to the person on the left of the snorter, while looking at the zoomer.
- A bannana passes it to the right of a snort.
- A mugabe can only be played after two consecutive zooms. The mugabe is sent to the last zoomer or anyone else in the game but effectively sends a zoom back to the person who began that round.
- A player may not zoom a zoomer but only another player by looking him in the eye.
- A player may not zoom back to a schwartzer (unless your name is Alison Kamikazee Platt).
- A player may not schwartz anyone but the zoomer (or a schwartz vigliano snort or bannana).
Points to remember
- Never reply to a vigliano.
- Never reply to a snort unless you are sitting to the left of the person with the "go".
- Never reply to a bannana unless you are sitting to the right of the person with the "go".
- Know your left from your right.
- No puffters.
- Always look directly at the chosen victim; any slight deviation or flickering of the eyelids may be punishable by the game master.
- He who hesitates is drunk.
- Any play considered as boring by the rest of the players may be considered as a mistake (e.g. too many zooms).
- Whilst at the bar a player is not considered as being in the game. This also applies to a person seated without a drink.
- Once seated with a drink a person is automatically in play.
- A looser with no drink must start the next round but then may retire to the bar. Any other player ejaculating with a mugabe is the maker of the 'mistake'.
- A false challenge is a 'mistake'.
- If people continue playing after a 'mistake' they too are guilty of making the 'mistake' and must be punished correspondingly.
The player who makes the mistake is punishable by drinking two fingers of his/her pint. If the person has no pint to quoff from then he/she must go to the bar and rectify the situation immediately.
Given the atrocious veather, a surprising amount of 'tourist' caving was done—ten trips are recorded in the hallowed pages of the log amidst the acres of Appo/dredd drivel.
Met some UBSS cavers who had just rigged Poulelva Pot—the poor sods agreed to let us use their tackle—fools. So we made the most of the opportunity to do the through trip "in reverse". The water was low: surprising in view of the recent weather. Negotiated the maze easily to the copulating mud man and woman—reasauring to see them intact after two years, or do they rebuild them after every flood? On up the superb streamway which wends its windy way eventually to an evil looking traverse (beyond the turnoff to Poulnagollum). So we went back to Poulnagollum and attempted to push some crawls without success before exiting via some more superb streamway.
After locating the flagstones covering the entrance the intrepid explorers descended to the streamway below—a three dimensional maze of meanders, but basically you follow the stream downwards via a few free climbable pitches and then a 10m waterfall pitch which we laddered and lifelined. From there the character of the cave changes drastically into a straight line for 30m before the cave sumps.
Tried pushing crawls off Poulnagollum streamway—Hywell managed 15' more than yesterday up a branch passage.
Cullaun II 19.7.85
Tourist trip for the tourists. Hazel wasn't well so stayed in the transit; Spot, Payne and Lisa were caving virgins. It was wetter than usual. Spot noted he kept getting an erection in Hywel's boiler suit. Funny how caving affects some people.
Cullaun II 20.7.85
Water level bad dropped since yesterday and the terminal pitch was free climbable. Also visited the beautiful Year Passage Grotto.
First cave for eighteen months for the Lira and probably the last for a like period of months. An uneventful trip in a wet cave apart from the near death of Spot due to frostbite and traversing. Surprisingly pretty with many formations.
Doolin River Cave 22.7.85
St. Catherine's One to Fisher Street Pot through trip: lovely pleasant cave—nice easy entrance followed by a little crawling and some stooping. Climbing over boulders and then the excellent main stream passage. The three harpies spent their time trying to drown Bunce in the streamway, and playing "What time is it Mr. Wolf!".
A steep descent to a rift led into the first aven—40m high, quite impressive. Further down the streamway after a squeeze is the second (decorated) aven; very high with calcite flows and moonmilk. Beyond this the passage lowers and eventually becomes a traverse which removed most of Payne's elbows and all of his knees.
That evening the legendary Bunce's Party at Kilshanny occurred. Not surprisingly no one did much the next day.
A quick through trip from the most northerly entrance to the south exit. Fairly tortuous grovels at the start and then a rather narrow rifted main streamway with good decorations. The bogs in the Forestry tried to claim a few victims on the way back.
Doolin River Cave 26.7.85
The trip originally consisted of 13, but Carruthers joined us "to be on the safe side". Grovelled into St. Catherine's One for an uneventful if slow trip: numerous cries of "Hang on up front!" It was interesting to sit and watch stalactites grow whilst the others caught up. Eventually, after three millenia we reached Fisher Street Pot. Despite the fact that 25% of the party had ever climbed a ladder before, we all surfaced safely thanks to Eyre's lifelining.
In common with previous years, we also went digging.
Unlike previous years though, we actually found something. How worthwhile it was is debateable—even the "hardmen" gave up pushing it in the end.
The Dig, 1985—"Poll Aber"
Explored shale-limestone boundary between Poulomega and Poulnagree and found numerous sinks—20 in 400 yards, several of which are diggable. Then "our" one vas found: John descended to a tight corner which he pushed to reveal a second, with open passage beyond. He was then joined by the rest of the party (Eyre, Hywel and Paul Flynn) and we pushed the tortuous low crawl to a constriction at 110 yards. Digging some mud out of the floor whilst being menaced by leeches allowed us past, but we turned back slightly further on due to an understandable fear of flooding in the tiny stream passage. A further sortie by Bunce and Paul ended at 130 yards where the crawl turned into a tight, sinuous rift. Over the next few days this was pushed by the 'thin men' Hywel and Bunce to about 300 yards. A survey was out of the question—Hywel claimed be couldn't pace and breath to count simultaneously, so constricted was the passage!
Grid Ref. M 10170/00383; 250m NNE if Poll Ballynhown; just NE of a ruined cottage.
Entrance is a 4' by 2' slot over an 8' drop. A very low crawl exits SSW. Two tortuous handbrake turns are passed within the first few yards. The crawl remains low, passing a dug constriction at 110 yards. At 130 yards the streamway abruptly coverts to a very tight sinuous rift canyon. A curtain is passed at 260 yards. The cave is pushed to a final estimated length of 310 yards. Interesting features are "non-return" scallops which work against you on the return journey, and abundant leeches.
Bloody Horrible! Prospects: The way on is open—and the best of luck to you (Hywel and Bunce).
A number of other sites were also examined but without success, although Grav & Co. put in a couple of days work amidst the thorns and brambles of Ballynhown Townland to find all of 12 feet, failing due to hard rock and a lack of explosives.
The select few of ACC went to Telford to see the Pogues. Only four near accidents on the way there. Much jigging to the bafflement of the local Garrys and Mandys. Alison got molested by a lesbian and Hazel got mega-hammered.
A quiet evening's mining for six rapidly turned into a mega outing for all the club plus hangers-on in Aber for the summer. Straightforward trip down the 80' manway and 70' abseil to admire the headgear and cages. The return trip was made more interesting by a number of personnel being unfamiliar with ladders, and especially Clancy's performance. 40' up she wailed "My boot's stuck". When she was still stationary after five minutes it became obvious that help was required. So Rob heroically abseiled down a waterfall to come to her aid only to find the offending boot was not stuck! Instead of thanks for this discovery all he received from Miss Clancy was a torrent of abuse. Everyone else laddered out, we changed and set off homewards in the trannie. BANG! GRIND! SCREECH! Much cursing—another f***king puncture! For the first time in recorded history we got the wheel off without destroying the wheel brace only to find a crumpled wheel rim, bent radial arm, broken shock absorber and much more besides. Much wailing and gnashing of teeth: a boulder lurking behind the bracken had maliciously leapt out and grabbed the wheel. Walked two miles to telephone box and arranged for AA to come out in morning and for Spadger to pick us up in his car. Got back to Aber by 4.30 a.m. eventually. Then Rob and Carruthers returned to collect all the tackle and errect the warning triangles, returned to Aber by 7.00 a.m. Cathy Pinder met the AA in the morning but they pronounced the transit "unrecoverable" and washed their hands of the whole affair. Fortunately Clarach Garage bent it back into shape and suceeded in driving it out. The bill came to £600 I'm told (I didn't go up in the Union to ask!) and we lost half (£200) our next equipment grant. Not a good night at all.
Took vast numbers of boy scouts around the Upper Adit and down the manway as payment for borrowing their tents. And they all came back alive.
Disasterous trip to the Gower—not inclined to go underground on Saturday so went for a walk around the quarry at Penwyllt. On Sunday Rob's car broke down so not time for a big trip. Visited Stradey Colliery at Llanelli for a few photos and a quick survey (see description Thrutch 7) and also Dolauchothi Gold Mines where we pirated a trip into Cardiff University's tourist mine—three levels linked by ladderroads, not much stoping but nice new timbering.
Saturday—disastrous trip down Cwmdwr as far as Jama, just enough for those in dry gear to get wet and miserable. Then braved the four miles of hazards of the disused railway line to get to the Pub (ditches; anti-tank traps; collapsed bridges, barbed wire; deep puddles, and maurading cattle). Rob and Dave had a drunken evening* at the Prices Arms wondering where Chris and Bev were—in fact they were a mile further on enjoying Keg beer and Welsh songs.
Sunday—more coal mine photography at Llanelli: Cencoed Slant and Cwmmawr Colliery (description Thrutch 7) where Chris and Rob grovelled around in 18" high workings, and Waunllech Colliery Fiery Vein Slant where two dead dogs were examined by the zoologists.
The now traditional Friday night at Alison's near Warrington. The Aber contingent arrived with a kidnapped dying infant cat which was put down on the Saturday (apparently a race between the vet and nature). Superb venue in UMIST—two lecture theatres, continuous caving videos, trade stands, club stands, bar etc. Highlights included Sid Perou's films, especially of Otter Hole, the Red Bolt debate; Caves '85 Video; Saturday evening's Indian followed by the 'Stomp'. After a night in the multi-storey car park we arose early for a greasy breakfast and the famous Daren Cilau presentation—armchair caving at its finest!
Free with every copy of Thrutch
You may have thought that all cavers were under five foot, with hunchbacks, bulging eyes, pale skin (under the mud) and beards. Most do, but there are one or two more unusual species to be found in Aberystwyth. We have produced a short guide to help the beginner recognise some of the easier species. A commonly held belief is that there is only one sex of caver, however, we can conclusively prove that there are two sexes (three?). Their mating rituals can provide a fascinating study.
Normally seen wearing a dead sheep and designer stubble. Nine out of ten girls named Grav as their reason for joining the club (all the males named Amanda) . Very rarely seen above ground, he can normally be spotted in the furthest reaches of Daren Cilau. Grav is believed to be very depressed, as he was heard to say he was going to end it all, and take up cave diving. Hobbies: Wearing flat hats and talking about cats.
The man everyone loves to hate, his opening line is usually: "You owe me some money". However, under that mean, grasping exterior, is a kind, warm heart (if you pay your debts, and don't puke On his sleeing bag). Dave is an aquatic species which occasionally surfaces for air, and the Mendip Trip. He inhabits the darkest regions of Ceri, far from daylight and women.
Rob Jones—Hit and Run transit driver
(He hits anything in his way and then runs away from the A.U.)
A sewage inspector by trade, his keeness for Caving is only exceeded by his grip on his wallet. Habitat: he is normally seen migrating between Cwmystwyth Mine and the Light of Asia. There are rumours that he moving his roost nearer to the Indian. Hobbies: Curries, chasing women, Cave Photography and Curries.
Chris and Bev
Opinions differ as to whether to treat them as two single organisms or as one. They are normally seen engaged in elaborate mating rituals in public, frequently. Chris was once a caver of great repute, famed for his daring, designer, crotchless, wetsuits, and his Oscar-winning performances at Cerberus. One of the few, (Aber street-sweepers), he piloted his single-seater council trolley throughout the long, hot, summer of the Battle of Aberystwyth. "He fought them (dog-turds) on the beaches, he fought them on the streets, he fought them in the parks, and he ever fought them on my doorstep." Bev was an itinerant toaster until she fell for the smooth, well-dressed, gallant, hero of the Aber streets. Rock house parties will never be the same again.
The less said about him the better. (He also cannot t$pE@).
Cathy and Andy
Dimunitive duo. Cathy, caver extraordinaire, has crossed continents in the search for fresh holes to grovel down. Many a tropical cave has resounded to the tread of her plimsoles. Cathy is rarely spotted without her side-kick, Andy. Andy plays a mean guitar though he has uncontrollable urges to wear silly hats. Habitate: Folk clubs in the company of a bunch of drifters and dubious characters calling themselves the Bland Brand Band. Plumage: Plimsoles and ecologically sound jumpers.
Paul Flynn—Muck and Mystery Farmer
This species appears to have abandoned its old habitats, in favour of a jet-setting lifestyle as a party executive. He may be spotted by dedicated Flynn spotters migrating between London and other major cities. Sports brief-case and even polishes bis shoes. Professes to understanding Genetics Lectures and will, as his party-piece, disguise the relative merits of organic carrots for over an hour.
"Where have all the butch men gone?"
Her life's ambition is to meet her true love, someone who can survive 5 rounds with her in a mud wrestle. Elaine cannot rest until she has castrated every male and put them in their rightful place. Diet: Herbivore. Plumage: Silly haircuts and ear-rings big enough to belay from. There are rumours that she caught Dave Elliott trying to put red bolts in them. Never seen without her sex-slave Robin.
The club's action-man and budding executive. There is little life endangering that Tim has not tried, except Elaine. He spends most of his time playing computer games and earning disgustingly large amounts of money. For new members of the club, Tim is the man you borrow gear from and then beats you unconscious if it comes back dirty. He is the owner of a colour telly and so has many friends. Lives in fear of having too much hair.
An unusual member of the Genus. He dislikes heights and water. Prefers ladders to this new-fangled S.R.T. nonsense. Does not like crowds (so refuses to do P.8). Gets on very well with fish though. He is responsible for unleashing several strange species of snake onto the unsuspecting citizens of Llanbadarn. No one is safe as he is moving into town.
Miss Aberystwyth Caving Club.
A difficult species to spot as she trys desperately not to look a caver (or a vegey) i.e. she does not have a beard (or wear ecologically sound jumpers). Leone is the jewel of the caving club and has men throwing themselves at her feet (have to write all this because she is the editor of this learned journal). Leone may be spotted on her annual trip to the Mendips, normally she is heavily disguised as a buxom barmaid at the Football Club.
A very useful member of the club as she can be inserted into tight holes (if she cannot get through no one can), or lowered down pitches on a piece of string to test the depth (S.R.T?). She is not talked about within the club as she has committed the henious crime of joining the climbing club.
Despite his denials he is a STUDENT, not only that, but he is also UNEMPLOYED, the lowest of the low. Robin almost qualifies as club action-man but, not being as rich as Tim, he cannot afford to try and kill himself in foreign countries. Plumage: May develop a beard during the mating season. Bright red underpants (may be warning colouration). Song: "Can you spare me a fag?", during mating season may utter unkown R and B songs to the accompanyment of a half-dead guitar.
Sarah Frears—ex President
Unfortunately this species appears to have become extinct in Aberystwyth, however there are reports of sightings in warmer habitats. (I have to be careful what I write as her boyfriend is bigger than me!)
The man from the drains. Not only is this man rich but he enjoys showing it by having a very expensive tent, and staying dry while the rest of us suffered. To compound his fellony, be is a LANDLORD. However be has his weakspot, Ieuan is tied to Sally's apron strings. Buy this man a chinese, and he will be your friend for life.
A small, unassuming species. Very rarely seen sober, believed to live solely on best bitter. Habitat: a country mansion outside Sheffield, now adopted as the caving club hut.
(The original, uncensored, Rob Jones authorised Thrutch version)
Over the past three years there has been a marked increase in the numbers of extremists attracted to the Aberystwyth caving Club (ACC). The effect of this influx of particularly the femmies and veggies has significantly altered the structure and character of the club. This study aims to higblight such changes and their consequences in the short and long term and the corrective measures necessary to combat their detrimental effect.
An Historical Aspect
Many members generally of a normal persuasion either still resident in Aberystwyth or else spread across the rest of the Realm and N.W. Europe, have often been observed in bars and caving buts, and even North Sea oiland gas installations, reminiscing for the ACC of old. It is widely accepted that over the past few years the club, once great, has now fallen by the wayside. In fact "gone to the dogs" seems to be the catch phrase of the mid eighties.
When histories look back it will be to this period that they will say "here fell the ACC". The fall and decline to oblivion however has been progressing for at least three years, with occasional periods of short lived resurgences. Only one member had the foresight to detect the initial failing of the club—the wise Fenton. Though he realised that he could not stop the great rush of events that would eventually lead to the collapse of the club, he sought a way instead to deflect the future course of history. Only a slight nudge would have been enough. Many hours he spent calculating the almost infinite permutations that the future could take, and how these would change given a slight deflection. He soon realised that he alone could not save the club and that following the eventual collapse there would be a period of three decades when barbarism, femmies and veggies would be the order of the day. After this period of annarchy a new caving club would arise from the ashes. What the wise Fenton attempted to do was to shorten the intervening three decades of barbarism to a single half decade. He gathered together men that he could trust, and in the following years they have been working quietly but efficiently in the background of the ACC to reduce the years of veggie and femmie domination and to ensure a better, more permanent club eventually arises. He called his group the People's Committee. It is in them that our only hope lies.
1984 is now widely recognised as the year when the extremism became most noticeable. The subtle meanouvers of the People's Committee to elect Douglas Chamberlain as President were thwarted at the last minute after the femminist Alison Platt rigged the postal votes. As a result her acolyte Sara Frears acquired the seat of power. To strengthen their position the said Alison Platt declared herself as Club Goddess by again out-manouvering the people's Committee who had planned for H to hold the devine throne. Over the following year all the good that the previous President, the Lira, had achieved was undone. Doom was in the air. That year's recruitment was veted, favouring femmies and veggies, and even those that represented the last bastion of sanity were tortured and converted to the extremist cause, even so noble men like Chris Stayte found themselves eating lettuce instead of a freshly slaughtered cow.
1985 saw the femmies and veggies even stronger with new strengths nurtured during the previous year at the forefront of the decline. We see such abominations as Elaine, Sara and Sophie grapplng with the last strands of reistance and they are supported by an ever increasing band of spineless jellyfish of men.
The Extremist Cause
It is now a widely recognised fact that the ACC is now merely a front for the campaign of femmies and veggies. The veggies of the bean brigade had their foundings in the early eighties in Alison Witch Platt and Marie Greenham Roberts, both evil and sly women. Since then the list of their converts has continued to grow. Some of the more notable converts include Christopher Robin Stayte and Sara Leiqh Frears. They band together to pounce on unsuspecting carnivores and ask them "If there was a planet of veggies and a planet of meateaters, which would you destroy?" They, while professing peace, goodwill, lesbianism and AIDS would destroy the latter planet. But the average man and his quarter pounder hold no grudges, and would merely point out that it is one of the most natural processes to eat meat. An educated man in the street would also point out that our teeth and body generally have been evolved to eat both meat and vegetables. He would also feel free to point out that biologically there is little difference between animals and vegetables and that we keep carrots in far worse conditions than we do chickens and pigs. But the over-riding factor that would be offered by both graduates and non-graduates is that meat tastes good. This then throws the veggies into a tantrum and they go away and fast for fifty hours for the Ethiopians who had nothing to do with the original argument in the first place.
I for one, together with my comrades of the People's Committee, look forward to slaughtering our turkeys for Christmas Day. The femminists too had their origin whith the Witch and Greenham. Of the women, it was only Hazel who admitted to liking sex with men, knitting and housework, and she has since been suspiciously removed to Spain out of harms way.
These so called freedom fighters for women spend their time in bars discussing new ways of spelling woman and women. Correct spelling is to be found in the Oxford Dictionary and as used here. Those of a religious bent need look no further than the good Book of Genesis where there is confirmation that these pathetic souls have got it all wrong. There it states clearly and unambiguously that the women was made from the rib of the man and is therefore inferior to him. In more modern times the prophet Spot is known to hold the belief that you've got to hit them hard because they'll always came back for more.
Occasionally the femmies drag themselves away from the Greenham Common and demand job equality, even though it is pathetically obvious that women are no equal of men. They are weaker both physically and mentally and apt to be temperamental and unreliable, always taking time off to have babies. From a scientific point of view it must be remembered that men and women were evolved differently to fulfil different roles. The man being stronger and more dependable is obviously destined to be the bread winner. He can tackle any job and do it better than any woman even if she does have a hairy chest. The woman on the other hand, by being more fragile is destined to bear and raise babies while also caring for the man in terms of wahsing, cooking and general housework. This is how it has been for countless milennia, and this is how it should always be. The man is too tall and strong to be replaced by a Greenham Common lesbian. Alowing women the vote and the right to drink in bars was over-generous I feel.
Effect on the ACC
One can hardly fail to notice the changes in the structure of the club compared to three years ago. The feminists have been responsible for inserting a clause in the constitution banning the freedom to draw genitals of the opposite sex. Also, by seeking equality they have abolished the hierachy, made a mockery of the power of the committee and influenced members to go caving. One particular femmie has taken this equality nonsense one step further by inserting legislation of the Students' Union to the effect that should any club be found to be sexist they are liable to a fine of up to 20% of their A.U. grant.
Furthermore, recruitment of freshers is now controlled so as only to allow sympathisers into the club. There is also one new member of the 1985 intake who does not even smoke or drink.
I could go on and on but I am sure these changes are obvious and need not be over emphasised here, other than to say that of these femmies and veggies the club lies now in the shadow of its former glory.
In the long term re-education seems the only viable solution. It is a well known fact that the femmies as children were not hit hard enough by their fathers, hence they turn into the miscreants that plague us today. Those of us destined to be fathers must remember the lessons we have learnt over the past years in how a lax upbringing can so endanger that which we hold to be good and honest. So we must hit them and hit them again, because in the end they will thank us for it.
Of the veggies there can be little hope. The most successful counter-measure I have found is to sprinkle all their food with animal fat. They can either starve or swalow their pride. Perhaps if they could be taken to see just how humanely we treat our battery animals and what wonderful deaths they have, then this would convince them that they have been wrong all this time.
In the short term one can only hope that the People's Committee achieve their aims and that the Lira's programme of re-education continues to have the profound effects it has had to-date. Let prostitution and pornography thrive, for such things are natural. Women having orgasms is not.
The author would like to thank Schlumberger for providing funds to enable this research to be undertaken.
To avoid bias in THRUTCH I have been asked to write a reply to the Lira's little amusing article. You have had the "male point of view", well here is a female's point of view. The problem is that there appears to be a power struggle emerging in the club, this is the only explanation I can find for the Lira's desperate attempts to "rally the REAL men together", restore A.C.C. to it's "former glory" and reduce women (N.B. not WIMMIN) to their "proper place". The only advice I can offer to the O-Wise Lira is to defect to the American macho club, the 4-F Club, whose motto is "find 'em, feel 'em, fuck 'em, forget 'em"!
For the Lira's critical appraisal is neither innovative or progressive, if anything it is regressive and basically OLD HAT! To illustrate the ill-researched nature of the Lira's article I will quote Wendy Thorne (THRUTCH No.2 1980) who wrote:
I believe that the underground sport of caving has been looked on as a man's domain for too long [...] after all what qualifications do we lack, other than the ability to p--- into a carbide?
This was followed in THRUTCH No.3 March 1980 by an article by Roger Cross:
Why is caving still regarded as a man's sport? [...] There is one bright spot for women caving in Aber. While the hard-core is usually about a dozen, two years ago it was exclusively male; last year there were two women, this year there are four. Those of you who understand geometrical progressions will realise that next year women will dominate the club[...]
Well we didn't: quite get there!! So what have men contributed to A.C.C.?
Example One: Fenton
Masturbation, pornography, perversion... it is quite obvious that Fenton DID NOT read Enid Blyton or Thomas the Tank Engine as a child. I am convinced Fenton is not of this world, he is a Changeling; this would explain the height and manic expression. The real Fenton is probably an underground terrorist Leprachaun in Eire. Castration rating ***
Example Two: The Lira
The Lira tries desperately not to appear as a feminist, to the extent of writing long articles for magazines on the subject. Secondly he slanders vegetarianism, yet it is quite obvious that he forces himself to consume meat, under the misguided belief that it is the "manly" thing to do. It's about time the Lira CAME OUT OF THE CLOSET and burnt his jock-strap. Castration rating ****
Example Three: Rob Jones
Rob has a strange view of women, he either tries to:
- Chase them round tables
- Tickle them to near-death
- Propel himself at them from a distance of ten feet (it's called the VULTURE JUMP)
To Rob women are a great hunting sport, over the years he has learnt that "direct assault" works best. Rob's trouble stems from an inferiority complex. I suggest he becomes either a monk or a nun. Castration rating *****
Example Four: Paul Wagstaff
Paul, disciple of Rob Jones, is a lot subtler using the "hovering" approach. A "hoverer" can be very easily spotted.
- Hover on the perimeter of a group and spot the prey.
- Most difficult step, wait to occupy a seat near the prey. Once some poor bugger goes for a piss you move swiftly and take up occupation.
- The prey is then paralysed, this is a simple technique for the accomplished involving a few words on S.R.T., first aid, belays, planting trees and stone walling, the Jura, belays, S.R.T., first aid, stoned trees, planted walls... zzzz zzzzzz zzzzz. Noted for his quick and original wit. Castration rating *****
I could continue, but the principal offenders who have brought perversion, chauvanism and degradation to the club have been named. The problem in the club centres round one thing, THE PENIS, otherwise known as: rod, shaft, peter, dick, prick, cock, ding-a-ling, thingamabob, it, stick, weenie, peepee, joint(?), pud, willy, plonker, knob, john thomas, balls. It seems most are confused over just what to call it! The penis symbolises male power. Society consents to believe the possession of the male indicator, the testes, penis and scrotum in itself characterises the aggressive impulse and even vulgarly celebrates it in such encomiums as "that guy has balls". Yet I wonder how men can get serious at all, they have this delicate long thing hanging outside their bodies, which goes up and down by it's own will... if I were a man I would always be laughing at myself!!!
The next year is going to be difficu1t for A.C.C. due to so many second years having years out; we have a new President, Tim, who declared upon his election "I'm all for the emancipation of women!", much to the dismay of Ieuan AND who is a v*********! (although he does have a confusing habit of going for Bombay Duck!) We have Alex as secretary, a caver so keen she has left Rob Jones, Grav et al in awe of her stamina at Daren Cilau. The "Wild Woman of Aberystwyth" Ms. Clancy, is Social Secretary, although I realise she will never fill the space left by my departure and Sophie will be trying for another pink potty award off A.C.C., given for services to the public. Who are our Editors? WOMEN! Who is our Goddess? ALISON! Who is our Alcohol abuse Advisor? HAZEL! Further changes that are being currently drawn up include:
- Fresher Advisory Committee on contraception and how to avoid the pitfalls of caving men, if this fails...
- Creche facilities.
- Yoga classes in Y CWPS on Tuesdays, followed by informal debates on subjects such as: "DID ADAM HAVE A BELLY BUTTON?"
- Therapy classes for misogynists and other confused men.
- The movement of dinner venues from the "Light of Asia" to the Ceridigion Wholebake.
- Should men be allowed in A.C.C. at all?
I think it is up to A.C.C. to help the Lira out of the wilderness through which he is wandering, too many nights alone on the rigs, with nothing but a bit of self-indulgence and videos of Alsations can have a strange effect upon the mind. We must rally together and raise the momney for him to have a sex-change, for his article is blatantly that of a jealous man whose true desire is to be a part of everything he castigates. Yes we could see the Lira return to A.C.C. a new woman, Pauline the Liraess, contented with piece of mind, drinking Tequila Sunrises and flirting with Rob Jones. It is a dark hour indeed for the Lira, this tortured soul should be forgiven for his absured ideas on women, for his rantings, for his slanderous article on A.C.C., for being a man... do not I pray judge him to harshly, remember he vas once a formidable President of A.C.C. The Lira talks of the caving club having "gone to the dogs" but dear Lira through you we are now united in our strongest hour; do not despair A.C.C. will make a new woman of you!!!!!
Sexual conflict in the club has now reached such a level that the only answer is the production of two log books, separate journals and, preferably, the undertaking of single-sex trips.
Such was the resnlt of a meeting held today by the assembled hordes of exiled People's Committee meiabers at the Albert Hall, Berkhampstead. As an example of the benefits to be derived from such an approach I have produced hypothetical contents pages from typical issues of the journals. These would be far more appropriate to their respective readerships than the hotch-patch of first-class macho writing (see Grainger, in this issue) and feminist, vegist, and other filth which Thrutch now presents.
There are people in the club now, dammit, who don't even know their Seven Parts of a Button. The rot must be stopped!
Family Circle (A Feminist/Vegetarian Organ)
- Toastie's Autobiogriaphy—"Born to Serve".
- Cave Diving without fingernail damage.
- Knit your man a nice pair of thermals—free pattern.
- Equipment Report—the post-mastectomy abseiling harness.
- Fiction—Aber Woman Caver goes underground.
- A Doctor Writes—the Gilligan Face Lift.
- Flower Arranging for Cavers' wives.
- One for the Ladies—Mr. D. Carruthers.
- Exclusive interview with the Royal Family.
Also (on pages 2,4,6,7,8,10,12,14–21)—lots of Tampax adverts.
- "To within an inch of her life"—short story by H.C. Davies.
- Red Meat for Cave Survival—Report.
- T.V.C.—Still no female members.
- Is Woman a Human Being?—Discussion.
- Mighty muscles through masturbation—feature
- Bat Battering—photo story.
- Expedition Report—Brothels of the Hague.
- Seven Parts of a Button—New Evidence.
- Vivisection—a fascinating hobby for the retired caver.
- Readers' Girlfriends, featuring E. Gilligan.
- K.C.—Still no female members.
- "Apocalypse" results 1985
"I write as a disheartened member of A.C.C. having been a member for two years. I thus wish to write in agreement with the Lira, he of the oh-so-sensative knees, on a subject which we are in utmost agreement on—the downfall of ACC. That the downfall of ACC was to come was obvious, for as the saying goes—"0ne bad apple makes the whole lot f***ing barrel rotten". For years chauvinism, perversion and "male superiority" have been eating away at the core of ACC. Upholders of the "traditional" stance of the club have since left to spread their attitudes elsewhere, but the seeds were sown (as men often do sow their seed) and ACC started crumbling under the burden of such nonsense. The club briefly flourished under the likes of such as Alison, Marie and Sara, but sadly their days with us were numbered. To this day the old members come to haunt us, the Lira comes to scan the first years for easy prey, the eternal misogynist, here to marry as many WOMEN as possible and add to his already abundant harem on the rigs, and Fenton come with his usual greetings of endearment "Gilligan you ugly sod!" Fenton, the infamous masturbator of the club, comes to frighten the life out of any potential "undesireable" in the club and to check that the log book is up to its usual pornographic standard—if not, he'll gladly do a few sketches! But aside from the threat of such ghosts of the past, present members of the club try their utmost to resurrect the spirit of chauvinism. Rob, to name one such paragon of unvirtue, has for years played the tactics of "direct assault works best!" Not to be put down, he also manages to discredit the club by advertising it at Freshers Fayre as an activity of crawling along narrow passages in the hope..."
(here the article ends, unfinished, probably a result of an overwhelming apolectic fit of rightious indignation, aggravated by the weakened, vitamin-deficient state of the veggie body).
- First published April 1987. 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.
© 1987, 2010 Aberystwyth Caving Club