Westminster Spelæological Group

Cave Exploration and Investigation

President: Toby Clark esq.

Newsletter No. 2002/3 July 2002

This newsletter is published for the dissemination of information and is copyright ©WSG 2002. Articles are the copyright of the respective authors. If you wish to reproduce any part, please include the source.

Headquarters - Caerllwyn Cottage Halt Road Rhigos ABERDARE CF44 9UW Tel:01685 811080 http://www.wsg.org.uk

The Club meets on first and third Tuesday of the month at: Ship & Shovell bar, Craven Passage WC2. (Off Villiers Street under Charring Cross station) Normally from 7:45pm onwards.

Caerllwyn - Lovingly Refurbished!!

Caerllwyn - Lovingly Refurbished

The caving calendar is on the main website. http://www.wsg.org.uk. Follow 'Club Meets' and 'Online Diary'. Members can access further information from the 'Members Only' part of the website. Follow 'Diary Dates' to check it out or 'Club Diary' to make changes/bookings for events

Contact mail addresses for the club officers can be found on the main website under 'Contacts'.

The cottage can be booked on line at http://www.wsg.org.uk ... click 'Cottage' then click 'Book Cottage'. There is also a multimap button to locate Caerllwyn.



Here comes summer! Two barbies over the working weekend and another over the digging weekend have done the morale and membership of the club a lot of good. The cottage had a birthday and the PMMS is nearer reality. The sight of Alan Taylor riding round the industrial estate on a tandem in his trollies, Sarah, Pete Jurd and Phil swapping clothes, Andy and Toby the younger in the doghouse for a misdemeanour (!) all emphasise what a well rounded bunch of individuals we are!

Apologies for the rather crammed look of the newsletter this issue - keep the writing going!

Club News.

The club welcomes Adrian (mini) Hooper who was so delighted at being accepted as a member that he climbed up onto the roof of the cottage and kissed Troy (with new red collar) the dog!

We also welcome back (after a considerable physical absence (and many nautical miles)) - Jon Selby.

Subs are now due and there is still time to benefit from the discount if paid before August 1st. Subs are £30 membership reduced to £25 if paid early and £50 reduced to £40 for joint. - Go on, make Jeanette's day - you know you want to.

Nick Dallman is organising a family caving weekend over 3rd 4th August. Have a word with him if you're interested (if he doesn't contact you first!).

Please put by the w/e of August Bank Holiday for a big gig and major breakthrough at 18th Hole. I may not buy a barrel but I'll certainly go the first pint of the w/e and maybe a bottle of Bushmills when we get into the PMMS. (Your insufferable President, Toby).


Mutterings of a Chairman

Holiday time is almost upon us and the cottage is looking just great after a new coat of paint! Well done to everyone who came down to work on it during the Jubilee weekend - Jon Selby travelled half way around the globe from Chile, just to be there! It was a fantastic time and very well attended: with two BBQ’s and plenty of music and dancing.

The midsummer BBQ weekend was also very well attended, with the President digging the 18th Hole and lighting a bonfire with a difference. The President strived to burn down a sycamore behind the cottage; yet an inferno in the core failed to destroy it. The acer pseudoplatanus lives to fight another day.

Forthcoming events at the cottage include a family weekend at the beginning of August (speak to Nick Dallman if your interested) and a not-so-family rave weekend at the end of August. Martin McGowan will have to be accosted for that after the trip to Ireland.

With all these activities the WSG is very much alive and kicking. It has a momentum for the future: a future of new trips, new adventures and even new parties; but the need for a caving secretary has never been greater to organise them all.

We have many new members (welcome to you all!) but we want to attract – and to keep – many more, but without someone to co-ordinate everything, from the Welsh weekends, to arranging Yorkshire and Derbyshire weekends, the momentum will be lost: trips will fall into chaos and members will be lost.

So is there anyone willing to take on this very important role? Please let me know if you are, or just to talk over what it entails. The next committee meeting will be on the 2nd and 3rd November when the diary for 2003 will be fixed, and it would be just great to have a caving secretary by then to ensure the trips that you want get arranged.

That said, however, I hope you all have a great time where ever you go and whatever you do for your summer holidays and don’t forget to write up your caving exploits for the next newsletter or Bulletin.

Jerry Complin



Virtual Caving - (modern day equivalent to Armchair caving).

http://www.croydoncavingclub.org.uk/Archive/Pelobates/035/Caves.htm - a bit about chalk caves in the South East.

http://www.ingleton.co.uk/ worth a look if you're interested in the dales.

http://pages.prodigy.com/caps/ cave survey software and other stuff

http://www.rainierpubs.com/metro/caves/cv_sw.htm more surveying stuff.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/health/newsid_1998000/1998150.stm Cave Bugs and a cure for Cancer? (As this is a news item, it may be gone shortly)

http://www.moorebooks.freeserve.co.uk/index.htm (Mike Moore Books) Have various speleo titles.

http://www.sat.dundee.ac.uk/~arb/speleo/biochemistry.html Biochemistry for cavers.

http://storrick.cnchost.com/VerticalDevicesPage/VerticalHome.shtml SRT device Heaven?

If you come across an interesting site, send me the URL and I'll post it here. Ed.


Jubilee Weekend - Two Views

Sarah, Martin and Adi

Clearly the club is about the members and good caving but there is something very special about the cottage. Staggering in after a long pushing trip or pissed after a session in the Red Lion… Arriing with the anticipation of a superb weekend after weeks of work in London or elsewhere… The working weekend (over the Queen’s Jubilee Bank holiday) proved to be a real W.S.G. classic. It was also most productive, especially as the rain held off. Walls were re-rendered, the outside of the cottage is now pure brilliant white, the tackle-shed has been stained, the garden and the inside of the cottage have been tidied up, the outbuildings have been renovated and a skip-full of junk removed. The cottage now stands proud thanks to several days of very hard work by a large number of people. A common sight over the weekend was to see people stand back from the cottage, stare with pride and say something superficially inane like "wow doesn’t it look superb" but in such a way that a sense of pride and belonging shone through.

"What did you do over the weekend?" I was asked after returning from London. "Well," I replied, "I decorated a cottage and took part in an English folk dancing session in a car park." It’s difficult to convey the fun had on the Sunday night. Andy bought a barrel, there was a superb Bar-B-Q and, yes, great live music provided by the Wynn family and friends. Together with the Croydon, we sang, drank, danced, and drank some more. I vaguely remember watching Alan grinning whilst cycling in his underpants and a clothes swapping session…

Many thanks to Martin Creavin and everyone else involved in organising the weekend. Here’s to many more of them.

James Hooper.

And from our second scribe-The Venerable Cottage Warden.

Fourteen people turned up for the first club working weekend for several years and a great time was had by all. Thursday night saw us in the Red Lion until all hours, finishing off at the cottage around 3.30 am. We were up by 6.30 am thanks to Herr Complin convincing us all that it was in fact 7.30 when it clearly wasn’t.

On Friday, the outside of the cottage and the shower block were brushed down and painted with a mould preventative, and the woodwork was sanded prior to painting. A skip was filled with a remarkable collection of rubbish accumulated over the years, from both the cottage and the grounds. A good, long days work was finished off with an excellent barbecue, courtesy of head chef Al Taylor. More big beers ensued. Andy Sewell had thoughtfully provided a barrel in celebration of his recent birthday, (or 25 years in caving - Ed), but we were forbidden to sample it until the Big Night, Saturday.

Saturday saw the garden attacked in a major way by Dougal Farquhar , Adrian Hooper and others with the result that its now much bigger all round. I was amazed at how the undergrowth had swallowed up so much space. We all took turns painting the cottage in its traditional white/red livery and Sarah Payne’s daughters even painted the window shutters. The shower block was painted for the first time and looks great. Sometime during the day, somebody (Phil?) had one of those ‘changing rooms’ moments and prompted the emptying of the main room of the cottage. A pressure washer blasted years of accumulated crud off the floor, such that it now looks wonderful with clean stone flags and wooden ‘beams’. Graham Adcock manfully nailed (screwed! - Ed.) plasterboard to the ceiling in between the rafters (which looks much better than it sounds) and got covered with plaster dust for his pains. The furniture was then sanded with a scary orbital jobbie of Al’s and then painted. The big table now sports sexy red legs with black feet. The furniture was suitably rearranged and the room now looks very different. Another long day, but lots of laughs and the satisfaction of a shiny new cottage.

The Band - outside the newly decorated cottage

The evening was rather special, as Andy had invited Croydon CC over for a barbecue and ceiledh, with music provided by The Wynns and their friends, who turned up especially for us. A couple of them had additionally brought tandems and Alan was spotted cycling around the industrial estate in his underpants. No idea why.

The beer soon ran out as we danced the night away in the car park (really!) to a fine musical selection. I never knew that Mark Baker was so gifted, switching effortlessly between instruments. They were so professional, they even brought a tent to keep the drizzle off their amplifiers and speakers. Anyway, later in the night, when the Croydon left, we ended up singing (murdering!) a variety of songs whilst Graham and a couple of other musicians played guitar and winced.

Yet another early morning saw me disappearing with a hangover to carry on decorating at home, but Martin McGowan, James Hooper and others carried on the good work and painted the bog and shower floors, and the main gate, which is now silver.

This was possibly the most fun I’ve ever had at the cottage, a great spirit of camaraderie was generated with everybody working and playing hard. More works still need to be done, such as fitting proper windows and shutters to the kitchen, possibly new gas hobs etc, so I may be chasing you all for another weekend of hard labour. I’d like to thank everybody that came down for the occasion, and if I’ve not mentioned you by name ( Jeanette, Elliott), my apologies, but I can’t remember all that well.

All of those who attended agreed that more social events should take place at the cottage, as this was so successful.

We now have a fine cottage again, so I’d like to encourage everyone to come and take a look. Hopefully we’ll be more inclined to spend time there in future and take more care of it when we do.

Martin Creavin



John’s latest dowsing results reveal the mysteries of the Cwm Cadlan area in fascinating detail. The potential for digging is revealed. This area can be considered as a continuation of the Pant Mawr Master System on the Southern side of the Neath Disturbance. Previous air movement studies in Bodwigiad Pot (five Holes) have pointed to a considerable cave volume so this work complements John’s discoveries. When we’ve knocked off the 18th hole, this must be the next one to go after!


Some further hypotheses concerning the drainage of the Pant Mawr, Nedd Fechan, Mellte, Hepste and Cynon regions. Part 4: Pant Mawr Moor and Cwm Cadlan

John Wilcock


Some discussion on previous work and publications concerning the regions in question, stretching from Pant Mawr in the west across the catchments of the rivers Nedd Fechan, Mellte and Hepste to Cynon and Cwm Cadlan in the east, has been summarised in three articles that appeared in the April 2000 issue of the WSG Newsletter (Wilcock, 2000 (Parts 1 & 2)) and the July 2001 WSG Newsletter (Wilcock, 2001 (Part 3)). Since then visits have been restricted by Foot & Mouth, and it was not until April 2002 that further work could be done.

Summary of work to April 2002

The following discussion is based on further dowsing work. The two maps are intended to accompany and to be part of the discussion.

Pant Mawr Moor

Pant Mawr - Click to open in a new window or right click and chose 'save as' to download

The first area visited was Pant Mawr Moor (Figure 1), while a party was banging in Hole 18 before the AGM. An opportunity was taken to further explore and map the dowsing reactions around Hole 18, Hole 19, Pwll Pindar, and Ogof Cul, and to confirm the reactions near Pant Mawr. The various holes and sinks were plotted more accurately on the map, which accounts for slight differences between the new map and the earlier version published in Part 1 (Wilcock, 2000). This was my first dowsing visit to Ogof Cul, and I found the reaction around the entrance of the pot near Pant Mawr Farm to be about 80m radius, with no apparent connections to other reactions. Note the curious reaction running north-south to the east of Ogof Cul – this is probably fault controlled, and it may be the route by which Ogof Cul reaches R2 via Hole in the Wall or Ogof Nedd Fechan (see Part 3, Wilcock, 2001). It has been found in previous dowsing work that small passages at depth are not detected, and so this may be why no connecting dowsing reaction was found from Ogof Cul; however, it has been dye-tested to R2.

The prediction that Hole 18 will proceed south-west to join the feeder from Pant Mawr, and then will proceed south-east to R1 and further to Llygad Cynon, is unchanged. Of more interest is the feeder running north-south from Nant Byfre Fechan that joins another feeder from Pant Mawr (Wilcock, 1991a). It has previously been postulated that this passage proceeds south-west and then south to near Pont Walby, joining a passage running ESE to the south of Hirwaun industrial estate, subsequently joins a feeder from Ogof Fawr near Llwydcoed and Tre-Ifor (SN 995055), and proceeds deep under the Coalfield beneath Mynydd Merthyr to reach the resurgence of Taffs Well (ST 120837) and subsequently The Schwyll Risings (Wilcock, 1991b).

Cwm Cadlan

An opportunity was taken to visit the "new" area of Cwm Cadlan (Figure 2). This is a hydrologically-interesting region originally described by Gascoine (1989). Gascoine reported a dye trace from Ogof Fawr (SN 985096), the sink for the considerable Nant Cadlan stream flowing off Pant Sychbant, to Llygad Cynon resurgence (SN 952078) at 219m altitude. A borehole near the resurgence located a phreas at a depth of 55m, i.e. 164m OD, from which about five million litres of water per day is extracted to supply the Penderyn Reservoir north of Hirwaun. There is a flood resurgence in a dry valley at SN 953078 at 221m altitude. A test from Ogof Fawr using 1Kg of fluorescein by Noel Christopher and Geoff Bull on 17.01.1970 after a week of heavy rain proved negative after one week at Llygad Cynon. However, a subsequent test in June 1972 did show dramatically that Ogof Fawr resurges at Llygad Cynon; after nine days the water from the pumping station turned bright green, and the Penderyn Reservoir was put out of action for three days.

Cwm Cadlan - Click to open in new window

The system was traced starting at Five Holes; Bodwigiad Pot was discovered here in 1968, on the eastern side of the 3rd hole, SN 958080. On the way a possible former flood resurgence (SN 954083) was located near Bodwigiad, at a higher level than the known flood resurgence; this has not been traced to its source as yet. From Five Holes the trace was followed north through a large stony depression (SN 961084), and then, turning NE, a junction with a fault was found at SN 962087. From there, continuing NE, the trace entered a large depression with considerable surface runoff at SN 967091. Going NW from here, a fault-controlled trace was followed until, turning NE, Ogof Fechan (SN 971097) was reached. It was noted that there were two digs to the SW of Ogof Fechan which were previously unknown to WSG, but clearly still active from the presence of digging gear. Who are these diggers, and how did they decide to dig on the opposite side of the entrance from the known passage? Next the known passage of Ogof Fechan was followed SE until a junction was reached at SN 978094. Finally this led to Ogof Fawr (SN 985096), but not until the previously-located junction with the postulated Taffs Well and Schwyll passage was met at SN 982094. On the return another trace was followed from the junction at SN 978094 to the SSW, abruptly turning NW (fault-controlled), and finally abruptly SW to reach again the deep depression at SN 967091. Clearly, this depression is important, and it may be a possible entry to the system. On the way back the trace from Five Holes SN 958080 was followed to another possible high-level flood resurgence at SN 956077. There remains much still to be investigated about this system:

  1. Where is the connection of the possible high-level flood resurgence (SN 954083) at Bodwigiad?
  2. Where is the connection of the present low-level flood resurgence (SN 953078)?
  3. Can an entry be dug at SN 967091? - only time will tell.

All of these results are naturally hypotheses that are entitled to stand until disproved. My technique is to publish and be damned. However, my dowsing work has had several successes proved by later exploration by cavers.


Gascoine, W. 1989. The hydrology of the limestone outcrop north of the Coalfield. In Ford, T.D. (ed.) 1989, Limestones and caves of Wales, British Cave Research Association, Cambridge University Press, Cwm Cadlan and Penderyn, 48-49.

Wilcock, J.D. 1991a. Dowsing Dan-yr-Ogof and Pant Mawr, South Wales Caving Club Newsletter 109. (Summer 1991), 10-11

Wilcock, J.D. 1991b. Taffs Well and the Schwyll Risings, Caves & Caving 53, 25–26, British Cave Research Association also reprinted in Y Ddraig Goch (The Red Dragon), Annual Journal 91/92, 114 - 116, Cambrian Caving Council

Wilcock, J.D. 2000. Some further hypotheses concerning the drainage of the Pant Mawr, Nedd Fechan, Mellte, Hepste and Cynon regions. Part 1 and Part 2. Westminster Spelaeological Group Newsletter 2001, April 2000, 7-12

Wilcock, J.D. 2001. Some further hypotheses concerning the drainage of the Pant Mawr, Nedd Fechan, Mellte, Hepste and Cynon regions. Part 3, Work to November 2000. Westminster Spelaeological Group Newsletter 2001/2, July 2001, 5-7



Trip report: show caves in Virginia, USA

Present: Matthew Setchfield and the odd family member…..Not that members of my family are odd!

Well fortunately for me, a) my parents celebrate their Ruby wedding in June and b) they chose to celebrate this by taking the whole family on holiday to the US. My sister already lives there (Washington DC) and so the caves are in easy reach by car. We also had a week in Florida but it's hard to count "Injun Joes Cave" on Tom Sawyer Island in Disney World (http://www.geocities.com/TheTropics/Cabana/5986/frontierland.html) as a proper cave, despite being listed in the "Gurnee guide to American caves" (By Russell & Jeanne Gurnee. Published by R.H Gurnee, New Jersey. 1990 ISBN 0-913402-08-5). Still, I went there too and was able to tick another entry off in my book!

Skyline Caverns (http://www.skylinecaverns.com/ ) Thursday 4th April 2002

This is listed as somewhat as a novelty in Gurnee's book as it is by all accounts the first showcave ever to by found by scientific deduction. Back in 1937 the Geologist Walter S. Amos was hunting for caves and realised he was on the edge of a sinkhole so dug a few exploratory pits and soon found solid limestone. A bit more digging and at about 15' depth they broke into the cave. The cave is very easy to find being signposted and advertised on huge billboards on the Interstate 66.

The tour lasted about an hour and what I liked about this particular cave is the fact that there are very few man made paths and railings installed. The path is made of gravel and so there is no concrete in the cave at all. The occasional handrail is used and I cannot recall many artificial steps either. I also like the fact that despite having an Internet discount voucher (See their web-site) for one adult, they discounted all the tickets. Most of the lighting is "white" too, and they let you take as many photos as you want. The cave is obviously a vadose abandoned streamway and is generally one tall twisty passage with many formations. The cave is still partly active in that there is a view of the top of a 37' waterfall where beneath lies the bubbling streamway. The cave is also famed for being one of the few rare hosts of anthodites. These are really like helictites but not as contorted. These really are quite spectacular.

They also have a pretty good gift shop. I bought tons of crap-tee shirts, fridge magnets, keyrings, mug, stickers etc. (Tip-watch your parents here as they are likely to buy cowboy hats!).

Luray Caverns (http://www.luraycaverns.com/ ) Thursday 4th April 2002

Yes, the famed Luray Caverns. These are about 20 minutes drive from Skyline and again are conspicuously sign-posted and advertised. Well, what to say. In a way they remind me very much of the equally famous Caves of Drach in Majorca in that they are both large, pretty caves full of wonderful formations but are also over-commercialised, busy, expensive and in a funny way do not seem to be "real". Now Luray does have lots and lots of concrete, in fact the whole tourist path is carpeted in bricks like floor tiles and there are railing in abundance. We had a massive party and the aged guide gave his spiel but was not interested, one of these where almost every formation has a name, "reflection" this and "crystal" that etc. There are some huge stal flows here and some great rimstone dams but they fail mention these let alone point them out to the general public! Luray is famed for its organ. Claimed to be the largest musical instrument in the world it operates by small hammers hitting carefully selected stalactites. We listened to a "toon" of course then made our way back to the large and busy gift shop. This contains, as you can imagine, a lot of crap too but also some good buys like the Geological survey publication containing the cave survey from 1966 and the absolute must for the office-the Luray Caverns mouse-mat! (I actually spent nigh on £70 here, don't ask me how!)

Shenandoah Caverns (http://www.shenandoah.org/caverns/ ) Tuesday 16th April 2002

These are a little further south than Luray off the main interstate I-81 and are very well sign-posted once more. It was an absolutely scorching day when we went here so was glad to get into the cool air. Now again I have a problem with this set up too! Inside the shop/ticket office is a pretty obvious staircase leading down about 60' into the cave-you can see the cave from the top of the stairs, but do you use them? No. You take the elevator! This took some 10 minutes to get everyone in the party down, as it is only a small elevator. I think it's a novelty they pride themselves on having an original 1922 elevator dropping into a cave!

Oh well. Now despite this initial reservation this is a good trip. The guide was informative and amusing and the cave is pretty well decorated too. Some of the formations appeared in an article in National Geographic evidently. There were paths of gravel and only a few handrails and again there were very few coloured lights; they even ask you what lighting effect you prefer when taking photos. There are some large chambers here and whilst there is evidence of a former streamway there is no active water flowing in here now, well not on the tour anyway. Apparently there is a lower level not open to the public. The cave was originally discovered by two boys who gained access down a 175' shaft then kept it a secret and explored the cave in their own time. Whilst the base of the shaft is passed on the tour, it spirals up and around a corner so you would not really class this a pitch in my estimation.

This is good tour apart from again having to wait at the bottom of the staircase (you can see up into the shop) for the bloody elevator on the way out! The shop is well stocked too (more tee shirts and mugs purchased). Like most caves here there is an Internet discount coupon on their web-site.

"The Beer Cave". Tuesday 9th April, about 9pm!

Wow! What a discovery! Everything the caver could possibly want right. Beer and a cave together, no surely not GG! Well, nearly. We stayed in a motel a few miles from Shenandoah Caverns at New Market, and after dinner, my dad and I went for a wander and found in the back of the supermarket this big sign. Basically it was a chilled room stacked full of beer. Well we were very happy and sod the fact this was not a real cave! The beer was really cheap too- St.James Gate Guinness at about £1:00 per pint bottle!

Endless Caverns (http://www.endlesscavern.com/) Wednesday 10th April 2002

A solo trip, as the rest of the family were still in bed. I was at the entrance shop at 9 am, although the first tour of the day didn't leave until 9:45. So, plenty of time to shop! I found a good A3 size survey of the cave for 95 cents and bought the standard tee shirt and mug.

This was my favourite cave visited. No concrete, no coloured lights and at 10am no tourists, just me, the guide and three French or Canadian tourists. Actually, the guided tour was somewhat embarrassing as there was only me paying attention, as I don't think the others could understand what the guide was saying! I felt like I had to make conversation to break the silence. The other novelty in Endless Caverns is that it is full of bats flying about. They are everywhere. You can quite literally bump into them hanging on the walls, and they don't seem to mind having their photo taken either! Whereas there may not be as many formations as the other showcaves, this doesn't detract from the enjoyment as this feels more like a natural cave and not over commercialised. There is an intriguing view down a 60 rift into an active streamway and in the olden days the tours used to descent partway down here. The rotten remains of the old ladder can still be seen. One point on the tour the guide shows the continuing passageway not on the tour but this is where the way on to the other 5 miles of passages are. Apparently a local group of cavers comes twice a year to have push into new stuff. The web-site has some picture of recently discoveries.

This tour lasted about an hour and a bit and despite retracing some of your steps, there are a lot of varied passages here. A short sound and light show right towards the end seemed to entertain the others but the chamber was incredibly well decorated so I can see why they installed such a gimmick.

There are other showcaves about here too. We did get to Natural Bridge but didn't get time to do the tourist trip into the "Caverns at Natural Bridge" (www.naturalbridgeva.com) although there is a short rock shelter cave up the path from the Natural Bridge itself called "Saltpetre Cave" but this does not really get anywhere out of daylight. Still a little further up the path here is "The Lost River"-a window into an active streamway where by all accounts neither the sink nor resurgence have been located; it is only some 50' above the river that flows through the Natural Bridge.

Between Natural Bridge and Luray on the Interstate 81 are Grand Caverns (http://www.marketplace.staunton.va.us/oldtur/grncvrns.html) and a little further south from Natural Bridge are Dixie Caverns (http://www.dixiecaverns.com/). To the north of Luray and almost over the border in Maryland are Crystal Caverns (http://www.waysideofva.com/crystalcaverns/ ). Most of these caves are in the Shendandoah Valley between the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Massanutten Mountains. Just over the mountains to the west lies West Virginia and another 4 show caves:





There is an extensive caving area in West Virginia also (See http://www.pipeline.com/~caverbob/wvass.htm) . Between Endless Caverns and Natural Bridge off route 11 lies a great caving shop: Inner Mountain Outfitters (http://caves.org/imo/). I've ordered many items from the proprietor Alex Sproul before so it was good to call in and meet him, and do some caving shopping too! He has a fantastically well stocked shop out the back of his huge house. Check out the on-line catalogue.

If anyone is interested I will pass a copy of the information leaflets together with the Endless Caverns survey to Neil to install in the library.

Matthew Setchfield



Kit Review - Photon Fusion Headlight

I’ve recently been caving with a neat little LED headlight – the Photon FusionÔ . Some Australian cavers are using them as main lamps so I thought I’d give one a try out. I got mine via the WWW from Botach Tactical in the USA. Cost was $49 US.

It looks quite like a Petzl Zoom. Lamp and battery box at the front, and a three piece elastic cradle to fit over a helmet. The oval shape lamp unit connects to the battery box with a thumb screw. The battery box/lamp connections are gold-plated and the whole set up can be removed from the cradle then used as a hand torch or a bivi-side light. On top of the lamp unit are two switches protected by a waterproof and luminous diaphragm. With batteries the whole thing weighs 178 grams.

The light source is a six LED array driven by three AA batteries and there is a regulated power supply unit to ensure constant light output. The light has seven modes selected by the switches on the lamp unit. There are three brightness modes: high, medium and low plus ‘Hyper Bright’, three strobe modes: fast, medium and slow (which strobes out SOS) and an auto shut off mode. The strobe and SOS features have potential in the event of accidents below and above ground.

So far I’ve used it on three trips in both wet and dry caves, big and small passages. The high mode is about the same as a Petzl Ariane and perfectly adequate for safe caving. It won’t light up the roof of the ‘Hall of the 13’, but then neither will a carbide. Hyper Bright gives quite a bit more light and is useful for those passages that seem to suck up light. The construction is robust and takes all the knocks it’s got so far. Apart from a little misting on the reflector, no water has got in. The reflector is easy to remove for drying, unlike the Zoom. Battery life? Like I said, I’ve done three trips, about 16 hours total, plus showing it to other cavers. I use the high and Hyper Bright modes, and I’m still using the batteries that came with it. I spent $6 NZ on a set of Petzl hooks to keep the cradle on my helmet.

In my caving kit are: wet Ni-Cad, FX2, Ariane carbide, Maglite and Petzl Zoom lamps. Now LED technology is pretty mature I’ll be using the Photon Fusion in place of all of these. For long trips and expedition work a bunch of AAs is all you need, with the Maglite as a backup. The only thing I’ll miss about the carbide is using it inside a furry suit as a hot water bottle down those Yorkshire pots in the winter.

As I said earlier, the lamp is available via the WWW from Botach Tactical. They really are worth a visit because the price is way lower than the makers, Photonlight. Botach sell outdoorsy stuff plus all sorts of police and military kit. A recent special was the Colt M16 Police model semi-automatic rifle, as used by Al Pacino in ‘Heat’. A bargain at $848US. Right now the Galil weapons system is keenly priced! The relevant URLs are:

Supplier: http://www.botachtactical.com/

Maker: http://www.photonlight.com/

Brian Bowell.


18th Hole - a brief history - Toby Clark.

1. The Adit was begun by Simon Meade-King in 1973 when he found the system flooded after heavy rain and draining into an opening on the North bank of the valley. He drove it 7m until the roof became unstable, it was extended to 10m by the Veterans and then to its present 18m by Tony Donovan when he hijacked it. At the end it remains a tiny bedding stream with little prospect of success.

Click to open in new window

2. Dig 1 to the North of the central outcrop was sunk to 2m depth, reaching a clay layer that proved to be the floor of the valley. A shallow pool formed here, flowing away from the cliff face to the South. Working in a few cm of water was very difficult but Jerry Complin demonstrated that he could push a spade forward into a horizontal slot to the full reach of his arm, evidently along a bedding plane. A subsequent major collapse of the face here made reopening this dig unattractive.

3. Dig 2 was in the South face and descended about 1m into thick soil which ponded up and became difficult to work and with no evidence of opening up or going anywhere.

4. Dig 3, the current dig, to the South of the central outcrop. Attempting to push into the cliff face revealed a persistent influent stream that formed an inconvenient pool. This was drained by rodding it through with a furgling iron and indicated the direction to be to the West, i.e. back up the valley. This we dug to about 1.5m depth through loose fill and small boulders. The walls are partly of boulders and partly not very consolidated fill –there is a risk of collapse, especially if the dig floods. It needs at least partially shoring up before next winter. At the bottom, at approx. the same vertical level as Jerry’s bedding plane, a clean washed void was exposed and another soft spot closer to the cliff, but filled with loose spoil. Both these voids are about .6m below the current floor which is substantially loose infill but with at least one immovable rock in it.

Dig 3 has a lot going for it. We have probably reached the floor and are entering a continuation of Jerry’s bedding plane. This is trending South which is down-dip and going beneath Dig 2. John Wilcock has shown a dowsing reaction here which goes South, then curves West and joins a N-S reaction which is likely to be the big main passage we are looking for.

The need now is to acquire more scaffolding, shoring timbers and explosives in readiness for a big push on August Bank Holiday weekend. Try to be there if you can, we are in with a serious chance of breakthrough. But, then, I would say that, wouldn’t I!


Last Gasp

Next Issue: (You can't wait, can you?)

...travelling to the Pembrokeshire coast and the Castlemartin ranges to do Ogof Gofan, surrounded by lycra clad climbers who were amazed to see us ab off the cliff in full caving kit, and disappear off into this small hole! And yes I did have to remove most of my attire to get through the squeeze, a 1st. for me.

Writing for the Newsletter or Bulletin is simple - Just write down what you've been up to lately - in any format, then send it to me!

Cheers, Graham.


Copy deadline for the next issue is 4th October 2002.

Thanks to this edition's contributors: Jerry Complin, Martin Creavin, James Hooper, Toby Clark, John Wilcock, Matthew Setchfield, Brian Bowell, Phil Mack, Jeanette Rosato.

Your name could should be here!