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News 2015-17

Caving news received too late for inclusion in Descent ...

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Remapping Gaping Gill

ON 3 October Kevin Dixon is speaking in the Peak Lecture Theatre in Sheffield Hallam University: ‘Going Underground! The remapping of Gaping Gill’. His was a four-year project to resurvey the system, as reported in Descent (xxx), and here he will detail the discoveries and results. The lecture is from 6.30pm to 8pm; doors open at 6pm (book in advance – tickets cost £3 on the door). For further information click here. (257)

Lost Pantin

LOST at Lost Johns' car park on Leck Fell on 10 December 2016: Pantin, D-ring and two karabiners. E-mail: p.c.halliwell [at] if found (direct link removed to reduce spam). (254)

CRO Challenge

THREE members of the Cave Rescue Organisation are taking part in the MRT Spine Challenge in January 2017, this being a 108 mile trek in sixty hours from Edale to Hawes. They are raising money for the CRO and are seeking help from cavers who use the Dales, or who might like their club to support the CRO by sponsoring the attempt through JustGiving (opens new window). The CRO is receiving nearly 100 call outs above and below ground for 2016, and we need your help. Those taking part in the challenge are: Heather Eastwood, Graham Hughes and Andy Jackson. Thank you for your support.
Report: Andy Ive

Address correction

THE web address to check on ordering a copy of the NPC Journal is incorrect, being one letter mis-typed. The correct address is, logically enough, (Descent 247)

Robinson Pot

ROBINSON Pot in the Yorkshire Dales is subject to an access agreement under which only three permits a year were originally issued; this was later raised to five and the permits were allocated by ballot. CNCC negotiations have now increased this to eight per year and the ballot system will cease. Apply for a permit via the CNCC website. (Descent 246)

Aldermaston Chamber

ROGER Gosling of South Gloucestershire Mines Research Group is interested in Aldermaston Chamber in Mangle Hole on Mendip – more specifically, in some mud formations present when the chamber was discovered by Aldermaston Mountaineering and Caving Club. These have since been destroyed or otherwise natural causes have removed them, but does any caver have a photograph of what used to be there? Make contact via Descent. (Descent 246)

Charterhouse and G.B.

THE parking place used to visit Charterhouse Cave and G.B. Cave on Mendip has changed. Instead of parking in front of the farmhouse, park behind the house using the right-hand fork on the entrance drive. (Descent 246)

Wilderness Lecture

THE Wilderness Lecture by Gina Moseley scheduled for 4 November and reported in Descent (244) has been switched with another speaker. Gina's talk about an expedition to north-east Greenland will now take place on 27 February 2016. (Descent 246)

Fracking details

ON 19 August Mark Lumley supplied information on new fracking proposals:

Released yesterday, the preliminary overtures of the latest PEDL licensing round includes a large number of new proposed licence areas for unconventional gas extraction in Somerset.

Target areas include ST35, running from Weston-super-Mare to Banwell and incorporating Loxton, Hutton, Bleadon Hill, Cross etc. and much of Western Mendip. Areas around Frome are also included as well as large swathes of the Somerset coast, significant areas of the Forest of Dean and the Wye valley from Ross-on-Wye down to Chepstow.

A consultation is taking place with regard to environmentally sensitive areas protected by the habitats directive. If cavers wishto highlight any reasons why fracking might not be a good idea in these areas they, or their representatives or MPs, have until 29 Sept to put their case. (Descent 246)

Porth warning update

AN update to the warning concerning release of water from Ystradfellte reservoir was released in mid-August:

'A new Cone Valve has now been installed and this now needs to be tested to enable Welsh Water to have clarity on the amount of water that can be released at any one time. This test will take place on Tuesday 25 August. The test will be at a range of valve positions and the quantity of water being released could be significant. In order to ensure the safety of all users, it will be necessary to Close Access to Porth yr Ogof for that one day.

'As we do not know what quantity of water is being released or how the river will react to this, it is strongly recommended that the Mellte Gorge is not used on this day.'

Officers from the Cambrian Caving Council will be present at Porth yr Ogof to give warning on the ground. (Descent 245)

Porth yr Ogof warning

The following statement has been released by Welsh Water:

Dwr Cymru Welsh Water is carrying out essential investment works at Ystradfellte reservoir and dam. Between June and October, we may occasionally need to release some additional water from the dam, which could see an increase in river levels. We do not expect the levels to increase significantly but would ask that people undertaking any recreational activities in the local river and caves bear this in mind when planning their activities. Dwr Cymru Welsh Water does not accept any liability in respect of any of these activities. These activities are carried out entirely at the individual's own risk.

Ystradfelle reservoir feeds directly into the Afon Dringarth which is a tributary of the Mellte, hence the notification for Porth yr Ogof. In respect of PyO bear in mind that airspace at the resurgence is minimal even in low water conditions, and a sudden release from the reservoir would make exiting the cave via the resurgence (e.g. a through-trip) difficult or impossible if such a release occurred while a party was in the cave and unaware.

Similar warnings would be appropriate for anyone canyoning in the Mellte or even swimming in the various plunge pools. Note also that the right-of-way footpath from Sgwd yr Eira to Clyn-Gwyn actually crosses the Mellte by fording along the lip of the Sgwd Isaf Clun Gwyn waterfall and a suddenly rising water level would make this extremely dangerous. (Descent 244)

Petzl headlamp found

JUST too late to be included in the Lost and Found section of Calcified Ads, Bernice Ferguson sent the news that a yellow Petzl headlamp and battery pack was found on 13 July on the moor near Thistle and Runscar Caves. If you think it is yours, make contact by e-mail: bernicedorothy [at] or tel: 01765 620317. (Descent 245)

New Wookey Hole tunnel

ON 22 May an announcement reached the media: the day before the management at Wookey Hole showcave had begun work blasting a new tunnel into Wookey 20, to extend the chambers accessible to the public.
The original tourist cave extended only as far as Chamber 3, until in 1979 a tunnel was driven into Chamber 9. The new, 70m long access tunnel is being driven using a single blast per night, made after the bats have flown. This latest phase of expansion will cost the management an estimated £2m to £3m, with a further £1m to develop the site. The first blast removed 8 tonnes of rock and the company estimates that it will take a month to reach Chamber 20. (Descent 244)

Farewell John Beck

We regret to report that John Beck, Descent's Peak District correspondent, died on 31 January following a long battle with cancer. John was a long-time supporter of the magazine, his knowledge encyclopedic and his dedication to the sport of caving legendary. That his loss was sudden is shown by a note he included in Descent (242), written shortly before he entered hospital and in which he mentioned his impending treatment and, typically, offering his ongoing dig to anyone interested. His loss will be severely felt throughout the caving community. (Descent 242)