News Archives 2009-2014
This archive will record the entries made during the year; these are removed from the main page with publication of each new edition of Descent and relate to news received too late to appear in print. They are thus linked to a two-month period while that issue was extant and are maintained as a reference to previous reports.
AN article on p36 presents an analysis of cave entrances in Northern England and whether they lie within CRoW land, prompted by a current investigation by cavers into whether the existing belief is correct that the Act does not permit access for caving by right. At least one online official FAQ is specific that it does not.
An interesting announcement was published by the Welsh government (www.wales.gov.uk) in November (though only briefly: it was taken down at the time of going to print; links to it remained in place as did a page of questions). This stated that ‘a review of existing legislation and guidance relating to access and outdoor recreation’ was to take place, specifically mentioning ‘activities such as walking, angling, caving, canoeing, climbing, and wild swimming’. The thrust seems to be to change legislation to permit such sports and ‘secure better access to the outdoors for recreation ... and provide clarity and certainty over where people can go and what they can do there.’
The review will be worth watching closely, as it could open doors for the sport of caving, and the announcement will presumably reappear in due course. (Descent 235)
NEWSDESK in the October 2013 edition of Descent reported on the forthcoming Kendal Mountain Festival which, for the first time, will include an Underground Session on 16 November. Details were sparse as that issue went to print, but these have since firmed up. The session is being presented by caving cameraman Gavin Newman with, now confirmed, the two main features are by Steph Dwyer on the Ario Caves Project and Chris Jewell on Sistema Huautla. In addition, a number of caving films will be screened and – excellent news – Lyon is sponsoring the event so prizes and Petzl giveaways are promised. For further information and to book a ticket, visit the Kendal Mountain Festival website. (Descent 234)
Protect a cave petition
LIZ Price contacted Descent with news concerning Kanthan Cave in Malaysia, site of endangered cave life on the Red List. The Lafarge company wishes to quarry the area, however, which would cause the destruction of the cave and a nearby monastary. The local government is awaiting an environmental impact statement. In the meantime, activists have raised a petition to show the government the level of concern. (Descent 234)
BOB Mehew notes that chloride stress corrosion potentially causing cracking in stainless steel anchors has become a significant concern and a report has been prepared covering details of the mechanism by which it occurs. Download the Word document – comments are welcome by e-mailed to Bob: rope [at] british-caving.org.uk. (Descent 234)
A TRIP into Daren Cilau over the weekend of18-19 May found that a large section of roof approaching 2m long and 1m thick had collapsed in Acupuncture Passage, preventing anyone passing it even after a long day’s digging. The section had previously been thought to be stable and it is unknown whether any collapses have occurred further into the cave, where more dubious areas are known. It would not have been possible to dig the collapse from the far side and rescue from beyond this well-travelled section would have been problematic. The indications are that Acupuncture is still moving, so until further notice please do not enter this area. (Descent 232)
Good news at Cwmystwyth
THERE is better news conerning the historic mining area at Cwmystwyth in Mid Wales which, under ownership of the Crown Estate, has seen a great deal of work fencing off surface remains, though with a loss of access to the mines. In March, the Cambrian Mines Trust was registered as a charity and on 20 May the complete area of about 138 hectares was transferred to the trust, which has commended the Crown Estate for its actions. The trust is now the absolute owner of the site, including mineral and sporting rights, so we hope to see access for mine exploration resume. (Descent 232)
THE pitch at the back of Suicide Cave on the Peak District is reported to be unstable (again). While on the pitch, two cavers saw a crack in a boulder open, felt a slab move and heard a noise; the area is notorious and great care should be taken as, if the boulder falls, it would produce a cascade-like effect when it lands on the suspended choke below. (Descent 231)
Rock Dove Cave
FURTHER to the report on p6 concerning a discovery made while a contractor laid a sewer pipe, the cave has been named Rock Dove Cave. More information has been released indicating that the cave is very well decorated, but will be totally sealed by the developer. Initially, plans indicated that new housing would have overlain the cave, but after complaints it appears that the complex will be redesigned to avoid this. (Descent 231)
WE regret to report the sudden death of Dave Allsop on 13 March, aged 77. He was a respected Peak District caver known in the past for, among other things, his involvement in cave rescue. Our commiserations go to his family. (Descent 231)
White Nose reaches Mammoth
Further to the report on White Nose Syndrome on p4 of this issue, an infected bat has been found in Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky for the first time. The Northern Long-eared Bat was discovered in Long Cave, which is not connected with Mammoth Cave. Tours through Mammoth Cave will continue, though all visitors are screened and have to walk on decontamination mats as they enter the cave. Descent (230).
Second congress circular
The second circular for the forthcoming 2013 International Congress of Speleology, to be held in the Czech Republic, has been released. This is an event that all cavers of any experience will enjoy, so head for the congress website to download a copy and find out the latest details. Descent (229).
Serious problem in Nettle Pot
Jenny Potts, for DCA, has issued a warning that there are serious problems with carbon dioxide in Nettle Pot. A warning has been hung from the bolts under the lid and cavers are advised that they should stay away until the problem has been investigated and dealt with. Descent (228).
Starless River dates
The Starless River mobile caving shop will be at the following locations during October and November 2012:
6-7 October: South Wales
13-14 October: Dales
20-21 October: Mendip
26-29 October: SUICRO, Co. Leitrim
3-4 November: South Wales
10-11 November: CHECC, Mendip
17-18 November: Peak
Descent issues for sale
Ralph Johnson has a set of Descent from issue (20) onwards to sell in aid of Derbyshire CRO. E-mail Ralph for further details. Descent (228).
DCRO is sixty
In May 1952 some fifty or so cavers met at the George Hotel in Castleton and agreed to form the Derbyshire CRO. Initially, this was a fairly loose organisation relying on a card index callout system operated by the police and using club equipment, supplemented by some very basic kit owned by the Mountain Rescue Committee, kept in a doctor’s loft in Castleton. A handful of minor but successful rescues in the 1950s was followed by the stupendous but unsuccessful 1959 attempt to rescue Neil Moss from Peak Cavern.
After this, the organisation was overhauled, reorganised and gradually grew into the DCRO of today, operating from its new base at Buxton fire station. In its sixty years DCRO has so far been called out on 356 occasions, going to the aid of over four hundred people and nearly fifty animals.
Past and present team members and friends of the organisation will be celebrating its Diamond Jubilee in Hope at the end of September. If anyone with past connections with DCRO would like to attend please contact Clare Harley for details. Descent (227).
Saturday 14 July saw the first through-trip from Boundary Pot to Wretched Rabbit in Ease Gill Caverns, joining Hiroshima and Nagasaki via the aptly named, newly opened Manhattan Connection. Sam Allshorn and Mike Cooper report that the link requires further work to make it safe, as it is currently very unstable. Descent (227).
Collecting in caves
An interesting new document has been published by Natural England under the title of Managing Geological Specimen Collecting: Caves. As might be expected, this has a conservation-rich approach; copies of the pdf may be downloaded from Natural England. Descent (227).
John Radburn has requested help to highlight a missing member of Lincoln CC, Jakub Gladski (known as Jay). John writes that 2012 started well with a superb trip down Lathkill Head Cave in the Peak District and the group returned to Lincolnshire in jubilant mood. However, the next day, 2 January, Jakub picked up his caving gear from John and disappeared; a few days later his gear and wallet were found in his car in Skegness. Though there have been two unconfirmed sightings, he has not been heard from since.
Jakub is 31 years old and described to be of stocky build, 5ft 10in tall, with hazel/brown eyes with a moustache and short dark brown hair – more details are available online via the Missing People website (the photo was taken during the Lathkill trip). There is concern for his safety and Jakub is urged to make contact by phone or e-mail through the organisation's confidential service. Descent (226).
The dates and venue for the annual CHECC event have been confirmed as 9-11 November 2012 at Yoxter, near Priddy on Mendip. Descent (226).
The 16th International Congress
An International Congress of Speleology is held every four years; the next will be in Brno in the Czech Republic from 21 to 28 July 2013.
The congress will, just as its forerunners, be organised around talks and workshops, films and competitions, but with a strong element of pre- and post-congress camps and caving excursions during the week-long event. Czech cavers and diggers are among the most motivated and best in the world; in this region you may experience a range of caves from stunningly easy but impressive tourist sites to some harder trips that might challenge even the best. The Moravian karst, the largest caving region in the country and near to Brno, contains more than 1,200 known caves and these are definitely not to be missed. State-of-the-art conference facilities have been booked in the centre of Brno.
Bear in mind that the Czech karst is readily accessible from the UK, being only a little further than driving to the south of France. Whether you are looking for a great caving experience or simply wish to spend some time in this historic karst area, you should not pass up this opportunity. The organising committee has prepared the first circular, downloadable here, or head for the congress website for further information.
A conference organised by the Cambrian Caving Council at Penderyn Community Centre was announced in Descent (225). Apart from the date of Saturday 26 May, no further details were available as the issue went to print, but these have now been released. The cost is £5 for the day, a subsidised price, but space is limited so it is essential to prebook your place by e-mail. Topics in the programme include first aid and self rescue, cave life, access and coinservation, basic underground photography and surveying, and the geology and hydrology of Welsh caves. The Sunday will see some additional underground workshops included in the price. Descent (225).
Hidden Earth 2012
The dates and venue for the annual Hidden Earth national caving conference have been finalised and the event will take place over the weekend of 21-23 September at Thomas Whitham Sixth Form in Burnley. Descent (225).
Karl Martin reports a rack lost in Swinsto Hole's Long Crawl on 17 March. E-mail him direct if you find it ... (Descent 225)
Nettle and JH
Jenny Potts for DCA has posted notices concerning Nettle Pot and JH.
At Nettle, Martyn Grayson reports that the two pull-throughs are no longer operative: the steel karabiners on one have worn through to almost half their thickness and the second has jammed (though a fixed rope has been installed to gain access to a dig). Both will be replaced as soon as possible using a cable and ring system.
New handlines are being placed on the two traverses in JH's Cartgate as part of the BCA investigation into how handlines survive use underground (see Descent 224); the placement is not DCA's responsiblity to maintain as fixed aids. Enquiries should be directed to Roy Rodgers and further information on the scheme may be found on the BCA website. (Descent 225)
Gaping Gill on TV
The Great British Countryside is a new series of television programmes being shown on BBC1, starting on 16 February 2012. The second of these, to be transmitted in 23 February, features the Craven PC meet at Gaping Gill. (Descent 224)
Kevin Dixon is constructing a limited production of DistoX1 boards for the Disto A3; cave surveyors will know this is a specialised piece of electronic surveying kit. Kevin has located some of the obsolete parts to make 100 boards which should be ready to ship around March or April; this is likely to be the final production of this board (price is not yet determined). Anyone interested should contact Kevin by e-mail. (Descent 224)
The Cambrian Caving Council is organising a conference at Penderyn Community Centre on Saturday 26 May 2012. Sessions will include photography, geology, cave life, surveying, conservation and dealing with emergencies, with training aimed at both newcomers and experienced cavers as an integral theme. (Descent 224)
The dates for the postponed event reported on p5 of Descent (224) have been finalised. The Cave Technology Symposium will now be held in the Priddy, Mendip area over the weekend of 9-10 June, thus changing from the former one-day event to two days, with practical demonstrations on the Saturday and more formal presentations on the Sunday. Admission is free for BCRA members or £3 for non-members for either or both days. For further information e-mail Mike Bedford (BedfordMD [at] aol.com). (Descent 224)
The report on White Nose Syndrome on p7 of Descent (224) can be updated with a new estimate for the number of bat deaths that have occurred in North America since the outbreak in the winter of 2006. The US Fish and Wildlife Service now places the fatalities at between 5.7 and 6.7 million (not including the current winter), upgrading this from the prior 2009 total of 1 million.
The revision was used as part of a submission that obtained $4m of funds for federal research in 2012. Some cavers suggest that the total loss estimate is high, as 6.5m would represent the total loss of Little Brown bats, whereas the population still fights on. (Descent 224)
Speleological Abstracts is an annual compilation of the world's speleo literature – around 4,000 articles are listed each year and, as these are searchable, it is easy to locate sources of information on virtually any topic or specific location. However, to maintain the listings your help is needed: if you would like to see your club journal, expedition report or book included, you should extract the details required and, for a UK publication, send these to the UK Speleo Abstracts Coordinator, Gina Moseley.
The information included in the publication (not all of which is necessarily applicable) is:
- Article title
- Full name of author(s)
- Publication title
- Volume and issue number
- Web address
- Page numbers for the article or total number of pages for a book
- Abstract covering the subject matter (maximum 700 characters)
You may send this in any format – pdf, Word document, text file or even a link to a web page – as long as it is in a copy/paste format. (Descent 223)
Page 9 of the December issue reports the publication of a booklet on Nidderdale hydrology. We try to get things accurate 100 per cent of the time, we really do, but there's an error in the report. The address to download a copy is correct but, with apologies to all concerned, the booklet was published by BCA (not BCRA). (Descent 223)
In 2008, while walking home across the moors, Allison Hume fell into a disused mineshaft in Ayrshire and, although she was attended by the emergency services, she died during the rescue attempt. Scottish legal history was made when the sheriff reopened the subsequent enquiry and new evidence was heard in February 2011 (see Descent 214 and 217).
Of concern were delays that could have contributed to the fatality. The fire service was first in attendance and a mountain rescue team was called out, but neither the Mines Rescue Service nor the Scottish CRO were called out, despite possessing appropriate information, equipment and training.
The sheriff's findings have now been published. In some areas these are critical of aspects of organisation and decisions taken on the ground and the document makes for interesting reading. (Descent 223)
In Ireland, archaeological remains are documented in the Record of Monuments and Places and are granted statutory protection. However, the relevant department has a backlog of work and is under pressure to cut costs. The answer seems to be to delist everything more recent than the abitrary date of 1700; thus, any mining heritage remains would lose their status and be open to planning proposals. The full monument list appears on the department's website. (Descent 222)
Mark Helmore writes that 2011 marks 75 years of operation of a cave rescue team on Mendip, the second oldest cave rescue team in the world! To celebrate, Mendip Cave Rescue is holding a day of cave rescue related activities and displays followed by a social evening, all based around Priddy village Hall on Saturday 19 November. Events will include rescue workshops together with above- and below-ground practices. The evening will round off with the usual caver’s stomp.
Cavers and non-cavers alike are more than welcome to join in and refreshments will be available throughout the day and evening. For more information click here. (Descent 222)
Shannon Cave on the border of Co. Fermanagh and Co. Cavan was affected by ground movement in mid-September, when some 300m of passage, from the Rebirth Canal to at least the Old Entrance, was affected by rockfall. No progress has been attempted beyond this point as yet and cavers are advised to stay away until it has been properly assessed.The cause of the movement is unknown, though it does not appear to be flood-related (stal in fossil areas has been broken and fractures have appeared in parts of the walls). (Descent 222)
Cave surveying course
The Misty Mountain Mud Mining Corporation and Red Rose CPC, in conjunction with the Cave Surveying Group, are organising a course on paperless surveying using Pocket Topo and Therion to produce 3D surveys. The course is being held at Bull Pot Farm over the weekend of 3-4 December; e-mail Andy Chapman for further details (andychapm [at] googlemail.com). (Descent 222)
Ogof Ffynnon Ddu access
There has been a permanent change to the route that cavers should follow to reach the entrance to Ogof Ffynnon Ddu 1. Previously, cavers were able to park at the bottom of the hill and walk to the cave via the landowners' garden; the alternative, when walking down the hill from the South Wales CC headquarters, was to follow the footpath alongside the fence to the property.
Ownership of the cottage has now changed and in future cavers should either follow the upper, established route or, if parking on the road as previously, walk past the cottage and take the footpath on the right (close the gate) and follow the path to the site of an old gate and turn right across the drystone wall – at this point you have joined the final part of the upper route.
Please take care when crossing fences and keep noise to a minimum to maintain a good relationship with the new landowners. (Descent 222)
Vandals have severely damaged a classic cave site in Oregon by lighting fires, damaging trees in the collapse entrance, and spray-painting the ancient art found in Hidden Forest Cave. The lava tube lies within the Deschutes National Forest and initial indications from officials are that restoring the cave will be incredibly difficult, if not impossible. Fears have been raised that this may lead to restrictions for all cave visits in the area.
Cavers, naturally enough, are incensed and the Oregon High Desert Grotto has begun fundraising for a reward to help catch the perpetrators; donations can be made through the grotto's website or at any Bank of the Cascades branch. In addition, anyone with information may report this by e-mail to Crime Stoppers Cascades; a cash reward may result, though you can remain anonymous if you prefer. (Descent 221)
White Nose Syndrome
The report about White Nose Syndrome in Descent (220) can be extended, as on 17 May (after the magazine went to print) the Fish & Wildlife Service in the USA published a National Plan to combat the threat to North American bats. The report and supporting files are linked from the agency's website. Notably,although there are no requirements for closing caves to cavers, many regional bodies and state organisations have nevertheless developed cave management plans which restrict or prevent access; the report provides 'guidance on regulation or restriction of human actions that are likely to pose a risk of spreading WNS'. (Descent 220)
Pwll Du CMG meeting
The Pwll Du CMG meeting reported in Descent (220) is scheduled for 18 June with a venue 'to be confirmed'. The meeting will take place at 7.30pm in the Lamb & Fox public house on Pwll Du, South Wales. (Descent 220)
Calling cave photographers
The Cuban SS is organising a five-day expedition to Cueva Martín Infierno in December 2011 and wishes to throw open an invitation to cave photographers from around the world to join in and help photograph what is often quoted as the world's tallest stalagmite at 67m high in a chamber that is up to 80m high. The cave will be rigged and transport provided; participants must supply their own photographic and personal kit. For more information e-mail Angel Grana Gonzalez, but note that you must commit to the expedition and supply the required information before 1 August, as permits have to be arranged. (Descent 220)
Whitely Fund for Nature awards
Descent (220) includes an article on the Whitley Fund for Nature awards, in 2011 one of which went to Jana Bedek for her work on biospeleology in the Dinaric karst. The following 2min 20sec video concerns her project and is narrated by Sir David Attenborough.
Cave of Forgotten Dreams
If you missed the first showing of Werner Herzog's film about Grotte Chauvet (see Descent 219), there is a one-off showing at Taliesin (an arts cinema on the Swansea University campus) on 14 July. (Descent 220)
The Whitley Fund for Nature, which is featured for its support of caving in the current issue, needs to appoint a capable individual as part of temporary cover for the Director while on maternity leave from August 2011. The successful candidate will have a key role in donor reporting and management and work with the team to continue the smooth running of the charity and deliver the Whitley Awards Ceremony 2012. The successful candidate will at minimum have several years' experience working in an office environment, ideally within the charitable sector, and a keen interest in conservation. Formal conservation qualifications are not a requirement but could be advantageous. For more information make contact by e-mail; the deadline for applications is Friday 1 July 2011. (Descent 220)
Ingleton Overground Underground
The Ingleton Overground Underground Festival will take place over the weekend of 27 to 30 May and is described as a weekend of family friendly exploration in and around Ingleborough. It aims to celebrate the unique landscape of the Ingleton area through a varied programme of events, including taster sessions for caving novices, climbing and mountain biking, guided archaeology walks, talks and displays on local mines, wildflowers, rocks and minerals, and the option to visit local showcaves.
On Saturday evening there will be a showing of Sid Perou’s What a Way to Spend a Sunday (introduced by Jack Pickup of the CRO) and The Underground Eiger (introduced by Geoff Yeadon). Caving talks are being given by Dave Checkley and Andrew Hinde (7.30pm on the 29th: 'The Key to the Ancient History of the Earth'). For further information visit the website. (Descent 219)
Cave of Forgotten Dreams
In March and April 2010, film maker Werner Herzog, renowned for his documentary feature films, gained unprecedented access to Grotte Chauvet in France. This cave, rich in prehistoric art, is both superbly decorated and protected; it is a veritable time capsule and a stunningly suitable subject for a new film shot in 3D. Visitors to Chauvet do not touch any part of the cave; indeed, nobody has since a raised walkway was installed, and Herzog was treated no differently: all filming was conducted from the path using specially adapted cameras.
The resulting Cave of Forgotten Dreams was premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in September and was subsequently picked up for a general release (see Descent 214 and 216). The great news is that Herzog's record of this Palaeolithic art, made 30,000 years ago (meaning that it is twice as old as that at Lascaux), will reach UK cinema screens on 25 March 2011. It's going to be well worth seeing. (Descent 219)
The Cambrian Caving Council AGM scheduled for 6 March has for several months been tabbed as probably taking place in North Wales. However, the venue has now been fixed for 10am at Pendarren House Outdoor Education Centre near Crickhowell, as it was considered that a North Wales venue would be costly and result in a low turnout. (Descent 218)
Too late for inclusion in the Lost and Found column of Descent (don't forget it is there to be made use of!), a 'found' note came in from Adrian Bennett: a 1W Unilite found in Tratman's Temple, Swildon's Hole, on 18 January 2011. Contact Descent for the contact details to reunite yourself with your lost light. (Descent 218)
Ogof Nant Rhin
Cambrian Caving Council reports that a collapse has occurred in Ogof Nant Rhin, just beyond the entrance crawl. This would obstruct a pull-through trip, so check the situation before committing yourself. (Descent 218)
Caves of the Peak District
The review of Caves of the Peak District in Descent (218) mentions its lack of index, but that a pdf was being prepared for download and printing in the same A5 size and format, so that it can be tucked into the back, or as a set of A4 pages for reference. This download is now available HERE. (Descent 218)
Odin Mine unstable
DCA has issued a warning concerning Odin Mine in the Peak District. A collapse has occurred at the base of the first handline climb, about 50m from the entrance, where the entire floor has disappeared into a large crater with a 10m drop. The material has fallen in front of the stempled passage linking to the Cartgate and taken out the first two stone stemples so, although the passage is open, the heap of deads, gravel and mud is very unstable and still moving. With such a dangerous situation the passage and, by implication, the Cartgate and beyond must be considered inacessible. DCA strongly recommends that no one enters Odin Mine until stabilisation works have been completed. (Descent 218)
Cave diving lecture
Martin Groves is presenting a lecture on cave diving in Castleguard Cave, Canada, at 7.30pm on 17 March in the Small Chemistry Lecture Theatre, Cardiff University. The talk is organised by Cardiff UCC; entry costs £3 on the door with all proceeds going to Save the Children. (Descent 218)
Welsh grants available
The application date for Welsh Sports Association grants for expeditions taking place between 1 April 2011 and 31 March 2012 has been extended to 31 January 2011. Thus far applications have been few and, although this is a grant available only to expedition members living in Wales for the past two years, or who are Welsh or who have Welsh parents or grandparents (which opens up quite a spread of eligibility), the expedition itself does not have to be Welsh. Click HERE to go to the grants section of the WSA website. (Descent 217)
Descent (217) reported that the gate to Ogof Draenen was due to be replaced on the weekend of 27 November. The work was completed that Saturday so the original key is now required to gain entry; the gate may be opened from the inside without the use of a key. (Descent 217)
A film about Dave 'Sparky' Parker's trip to the Hall of Thirty in Otter Hall at the age of 73 (see Descent 215) was premiered in the Palace Cinema in Cinderford on 11 October and subsequently entered into an online speleo film competition, as reported in Descent (217). At its close, the trailer had received 1,500 hits and the film was placed third. (Descent 217)
New cave at Ystradfellte
Since its discovery earlier this year, rumours of a new cave discovered near Ystradfellte have spread, despite the landowners' wishes reports Elsie Little (Cambrian CC & BCA Conservation Officer). She writes:
Those few responsible cavers using the site with permission were working with the landowners and hoped to carry out a scientific study and arrange an access agreement. However, others have entered the site without permission, carried out criminal damage at the entrance (which matter is now in the hands of the police), and interfered with the landowners’ privacy and water supply that originates in the cave. The result is a complete ban on caving here; the cave will be firmly sealed closed.
We thank the landowners for agreeing to do this in a manner that will not damage the cave, so that it will be properly protected, and we urge all cavers to respect the laws of property. We only have access to underground sites with a landowner's permission and landowners may be reassured that the Cambrian Caving Council, British Caving Association and the British Cave Research Association will always work with them in such matters. (Descent 217)
White Nose Syndrome
Descent (216) reported on the possible outcome if White Nose Syndrome, now prevalent across many states of the USA, became established in Europe (where the causative fungal species has been identified). Two bats have now been found in Wigpool Iron Mine in the Forest of Dean, both bearing a white fungal growth, and have been retrieved for analysis. Bats can die a natural death and then exhibit fungal growth so the outcome is far from certain, especially as WNS normally manifests more towards the end of the hibernation period, coming into spring, but safe is far better than sorry. All access to Wigpool Iron Mine, other than for essential trips as required and advised by the owners, is now suspended until the analysis is completed and more is known. (Descent 216)
Otter Hole film night
A film about Dave 'Sparky' Parker's trip to the Hall of Thirty in Otter Hall at the age of 73 (see Descent 215) was premiered in the Palace Cinema in Cinderford on 11 October. The evening was sold out and was such a success, with proceeds going to Gloucestershire cave rescue, that Paul Taylor has arranged a second evening on Monday 15 November. If you are interested in attending, contact Paul by e-mail: paultaylor [at] redhousefod.co.uk. (Descent 216)
Smeltmill Beck Cave access
The landowner for Smeltmill Beck Cave near Brough, John Lord, has stated that all cavers are required to seek permission before they make a descent (landline: 01768 341686; mobile: 07812 364997) and let him know after you have exited the cave. Please park on the edge of the driveway to Light Trees, near the stream about 70m downstream from the entrance (NGR NY 8475 1465). Currently, most or all cavers have parked at the top and walked down the stream but in future you must follow the stream bed upstream; the entrance is a hands-and-knees crawl under a small cliff face. Do not climb any fences or stone walls. (Descent 216)
Otter Hole film
Descent (215) carried an article about a rather special caving trip to Otter Hole in the Forest of Dean – a trip by 73-year-old Dave 'Sparky' Parker, who discovered the cave back in 1970. A film was made of the trip and the date of its first showing has been announced: if you would like to see the results and meet both Forest cavers and some of those who were involved in the early days of exploration in Otter, contact Paul Taylor for further information (e-mail: chairman [at] gcrg.org.uk). The event is planned for 11 October in the Palace Cinema, Cinderford; tickets will cost in the region of £5 with proceeds going to Gloucestershire CRG. (Descent 216)
Ogof Draenen gates
During the evening of 7 July the gates to Ogof Draenen and Drws Cefn on the Pwll Du hillside in South Wales were stolen by persons unknown. The theft is being taken very seriously by the landowners and the Pwll Du CMG, which acts for the landowners on behalf of cavers. An accurate time for the theft is known and all keyholders have been asked to account for the whereabouts of their keys between set hours, to aid a police enquiry in progress.
Fortunately, at the time of writing the landowners have agreed that access may continue through the original Draenen entrance; no entry (or through-trip) is allowed via Drws Cefn. Please respect the landowners’ wishes related to caving on their land. Articles on the background to problems at Draenen and advice concerning legal issues and caving access in general appeared most recently in Descent (213) and (214).
Keyholders should continue to carry a key (which can be shown to the landowners if required, indicating that you have permission to be there). Non-keyholders should contact Sue Mabbett, PDCMG Secretary, 2 Garth Close, Morganstown, Cardiff CF15 8LF before undertaking a trip. (Descent 216)
Wes Skiles dies
Wes Skiles, renowned in both caving and underwater filming circles, died on 21 July while open-water diving off the Florida coast; he was 52 years old. He is reported to have left his companions to return to the surface for additional film stock; his body was later found on the reef. (Descent 216)
Peak District Mining Museum threatened
The Peak District Mining Museum in Matlock Bath has been threatened with closure. The Pavilion building where it is situated requires high expenditure to bring it up to standard and Derbyshire Dales District Council, the landlord, is taking the tack that it should be sold to a private buyer, which would force the museum to close. A Save the Pavilion Group has been established to raise awareness and funds to keep the Pavilion open: follow the link for more details. (Descent 215)
Aberystwyth CC sponsored walk
Members of Aberystwyth CC are planning a sponsored walk from Aberystwyth to Penwyllt in the Swansea Valley, ending at the headquarters of South Wales CC. The walk is expected to take four days from 10 to 13 August and is being undertaken in aid of the Cave Rescue Organisation, which celebrates its 75th anniversary in 2010. That's 75 miles for 75 years ... Donations are welcome in support of this worthy cause. (Descent 215)
Three Peaks challengers wanted
The CRO is organising a sponsored Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge on 7 August and is looking for volunteers to take part. The 24.5 mile circuit takes in Ingleborough, Penyghent and Whernside and by tradition is completed in under twelve hours. The idea for the CRO challenge originated with Phil Haigh, who died in 2009 before he could see it put into action for the first event that August with over fifty participants helping to raise money for the team
The 2010 challenge aims to be bigger and better and, if three peaks are too much, suggestions for shorter routes and even guided walks are available. Entrants are asked to donate the first £50 of their sponsorship receipts to CRO; the rest can be donated as well, of course, or can go to a different charity of their choosing. This is a great opportunity to enjoy a day out, to meet people and help the rescue team; learn more and register at the CRO website. (Descent 215)
Another Three Counties link
A team of cavers, including caving and non-caving members of the Misty Mountain Mud Mining Corporation, have made a connection between Ireby Fell Cavern and Rift Pot. This links Lancashire with Yorkshire underground and represents one of the last two key connections to remain in the Three Counties System. Ireby now contains a border control and a mud sign saying ‘Welcome to Lancashire’. A full article on this major success will appear in Descent (215), published on 7 August. This special edition is not to be missed. (Descent 214)
Cave fatality trial
The trial relating to the death of Joseph Lister in Manchester Hole was still ongoing when Descent (214) went to print, and the report in that issue was therefore only a partial one. When the trial concluded, it brought a verdict of not guilty. A full report will appear in Descent (215). (Descent 214)
Real Rescues is a television series which transmits in a morning slot on BBC1; it is hosted by Nick Knowles and takes a behind-the-scenes look at the emergency services and the work that they do. The programme has proved popular and the makers, Topical TV, have been commissioned to produce two more series to follow the two already screened and would like to include caving in the presentation.
The films often use archive footage shot by the public or the services themselves, combining this with news coverage and interviews with both those involved in the rescue and the service personnel. Topical is therefore hoping that cavers will have shot some footage at some time in the past that they can use as the basis of a programme. If you have any, or know of any, please contact the assistant producer Paula Tonks by phone (023 8071 2233) or e-mail (paula.tonks [at] topical.co.uk). She is keen to feature at least one cave rescue in the forthcoming two series. (Descent 214)
Caving talk: free entry (pay to leave)
Dave and Sue Ryall are presenting a talk on caving 'From Ingleborough to Vancouver Island' in Langcliffe Village Institute near Settle in the Yorkshire Dales at 7.30pm on Saturday 19 June. Scurrilous tales are promised ... Entry is free but donations are welcome (required!) in support of the institute. (Descent 214)
Caves on TV
Cavers able to receive BBC 1 Wales should tune in to Iolo Williams' new series on wildlife beginning at 9pm on Sunday 9 May. Included is a visit to Daren Cilau, filmed by Gavin Newman. The series is in English and is due to be repeated in September in all regions; details will appear in Descent when known. (Descent 214)
On 6 April damage in Giant's Hole was reported to DCA. The damage occurred in a remote area beyond the reach of 'non-cavers', the terminal chamber of Wet Inlets. The vandals broke stal using a rock, including one section a metre long. The floor was described as 'a scene of calcite genocide'.
Giant's Hole is a SSSI and protected by law. Natural England and DCA are both keen to identify the culprits. If you have seen any damage in the cave, please report this with a date to help to tie this down. Photographs are required of the intact chamber to help to assess the damage. And of course, any information that might lead to identifying those responsible. To offer information, e-mail Dave Webb: conservation-off [at] thedca.org.uk. (Descent 213)
Descent (213) contains a report on access to Ogof Draenen, specifically concerning the entrance dug at Drws Cefn without the landowners’ knowledge or permission and placing all access at risk. Here is the update from the Pwll Du CMG:
After a period of uncertainty regarding future access to Ogof Draenen, the PDCMG can now confirm that ongoing access to the cave has been secured. However, the conditions attached to this access are that it is only to be via the original entrance to the cave. Any further attempts to open or otherwise use other entrances to the cave on land owned by Pwll Du Conservation Ltd will result in termination of the current access agreement. We therefore ask all cavers to respect the terms of access.
Details of obtaining a key appear in a separate report, below. (Descent 213)
A report in Descent (213) on p5 concerns a new Caveclimb.com shop opening in Buckfastleigh. After Descent went to print, the announcement was made that the shop had closed permanently as the level of trade had proved too low to sustain it. (Descent 213)
Ogof Draenen lock
By request of the landowners, the lock on Ogof Draenen has been changed from a combination lock to one requiring a key. The new high security lock (keys cannot be copied without a security certificate) was installed on the weekend of 21 March. To gain access, clubs and cavers must now:
Apply for a key by post, with a letter on club letterheaded paper detailing when the key is required, together with a deposit cheque for £10 payable to PDCMG (Pwll Du Cave Management Group) and an addressed jiffy bag with correct postage for a large package (check new postal rates that apply from April). Send your request to Sue Mabbett, PDCMG Secretary, 2 Garth Close, Morganstown, Cardiff CF15 8LF. The cheque will be destroyed on return of the key.
Or, if your club is designated as one with permanent access and thus holds its own key, enquire from your club secretary whether a new key is available for use. (Descent 213)
The Bulgarian Federation of Speleology has asked clubs and cavers to sign an online petition to show support for its stance in cave conservation, specifically to raise political awareness concerning caves in Bulgaria in the hope of introducing legal protection. Read more HERE. (Descent 213)
The Irish Student Caving Forum is being held over Easter weekend, 2-5 April, in the Leitrim Lakes Youth Hostel, Kiltyclogher, Co. Leitrim. Hosted by Queens University Belfast CC, the event costs €40 – for further information e-mail: qubcc [at] yahoogroups.com. (Descent 212)
Hidden Earth 2010
Details of the 2010 Hidden Earth national caving conference have been announced. The event will return to the high school in Leek for the weekend of 24 to 26 September. More details will appear in Descent as they are released. (Descent 212)
Irish Speleology (18) is reviewed in the current issue, but the price has been changed since Descent went to print. The price is now £9 or €10 for the issue, or £12 or €14 including postage to the UK. Make cheques payable to SUI and send orders to: Matthew Parkes, Natural History Museum, Merrion Street, Dublin 2, Ireland. Contact information for enquiries appears in Descent. (Descent 212)
A busy OFD
The West Brecon CRT is running a rescue practice at OFD on 20 March. Cavers should be aware that this will involve a stretcher carry and a lot of people in the OFD1 and 1.5 region of the cave throughout the day so if you intend undertaking a normal trip, take this into account. (Descent 212)
The National Cave and Karst Research Institute in the USA is expanding its staff to include an Advancement Director, who will help with fundraising and promoting the organisation. Applications are being accepted until 15 March: more information appears HERE. (Descent 212)
An S4C documentary series, Tir Cymru, is devoting its programme on 17 January at 9pm to underground Wales. For those not in Wales, S4C is the Welsh language channel; English subtitles are available on the 17th, or they are embedded in the screening in the repeat the following Thursday. Underground footage was shot by Gavin Newman. (Descent 212)
On 27 November 2009 movement was again reported in the entrance to Swildon's Hole on Mendip. Water had undermined some of the slabs and these had to be lowered to make the area safer. Even so, this part of the cave remained unstable, especially given the heavy rainfall that continued into December. As the entrance area was not considered safe, in mid-December Swildon's Hole was closed by the landowner. No visits until further notice ... (Descent 211)
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