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News from January to March 2013


March 23


A 7-mile, 7-hour underground trip on Saturday 9th March down the Box Freestone Quarries in Wiltshire seemed just the thing to give me a bit of exercise after several weeks of total inactivity. The drive, even in the Friday tea-time traffic was not too onerous. Kent Underground Research Group (KURG) were organising it and those from East Kent had a longer journey than me in time. We went underground soon after 10:30am, surfacing after 5:00pm. The quarry was all on one level except for a fault in one corner and after around 2,000 years of working, up to 1969, it was immense. I doubt we saw 10% of it. Greatest interest was many artefacts including complete cranes, winches and saws etc.  Also the copious graffiti from the mid-1890’s, some very rude indeed! I took the two extra trips at the lunch break and maybe did an extra mile. However we saw nothing of the MoD doings, but passed an airshaft for Brunel’s Box Tunnel.

Follow the link to see the pictures.

01   Entry
02   Black Horse Graffiti
03. Farmer Heppaard's (sic) donkey
04. Crane, in situ
05. Walking on crushed deads
06. Rock fall from side passage
07. Survey (Note: only southern region)
09. Shaft and slice search for commercial rock
10. Passage
11. Graffiti (1893)
12. Work tally
13. Well with Fish-bellied rail guard
14. Roof recess for crane
15. "Hanging Death"
16. Winch mounted on rail track
17. Stone saw sharpening bench
18. Ladder
19. Shaft
20 "Back Door"



March 21


Boggarts were in attendance at Dave's Bats: Gaping Ghyll to Long Preston at Long Preston Village Hall recently and thoroughly enjoyed his fascinating and entertaining talk.

Bats of course are like cavers in many ways.  They like caves and they have specialised and sophisticated equipment for seeing in the dark.  We also learned that:

  • the smallest bat in the world is the Bumblebee bat which is only about an inch long and weighs 2 grams
  • our Pipistrelle bat weighs in at around 5 grams and consumes 3,000 midges a night
  • Fossils show that bats have used echolocation for 50 million years
  • we have a new bat in the UK, the Alcathoe bat and there has been a reading in Link Pot
  • you can see Bar Pot's  summer population of 1,000 or so bats swarming around midnight in August, which unfortunately coincides with the CPC winch meet rather than the BPC one.  None-the-less armed with this knowledge, some boggarts plan to go to see the spectacle this year
  • the Bar Pot bats have a maternity roost in Horton Church in June.  Males visit till November and the female bats store the sperm throughout the winter - an ability unique to bats
  • Bats carry their baby around with them.
  • Natterer's bats have been found ringed from Bar Pot
  • Link Pot has maybe 5000 bats including Whiskered bats
  • Buckden Gavel has Brandts bats
  • the Hoffman Kiln is a winter roosting site or an interim site
  • Cherry Tree Hole is a winter roosting site
  • there is a roosing site in Horton Church in the porch in a chink behind the notice board
  • watch out for Daubenton's bats as they carry a rabies related disease which is fatal


March 20


There have been such a lot of exciting Boggart happenings recently that news of the latest adventure walk paled to insignificance.  It was particularly good to hear of the enormously successful Boggart entry in the recent Liverpool half marathon.  33rd in their age/sex category must surely have been our very own Pete Simpson, but no it was another anonymous boggart.   Pete was winning boggart glory on a run elsewhere.  Whoever they were it seems that Boggarts from the west are very fit and just the kind of people we need down Notts II.

As much as anything, this is to remind you all that adventure walks are weekly and I understand that this Thursday's (tomorrow's) adventure walk will feature Ingleborough.

March 7 saw us at Yarnbury, a place of mining and speleological interest with a smattering also of prehistory.  Apart from the surface features it is good to wander around the mine workings knowing that somewhere far beneath lie the Lost Caverns of Grassington Moor.

First we looked at the Neolithic/Bronze Age henge at Yarnabury, which, unlike most prehistoric sites in the Dales, can actually be seen quite readily.  After that it was peering into mine shafts and spoil heaps, and we found a particularly nice culvert hewn out of the living rock which we might have invited Andrew Farrow to explore had it been a couple of kilometers longer.  A particularly rewarding part of the day was sheltering from the biting wind in what was once a portal to the underworld.

And finally for those with a penchant for boundary stones there was a veritable plethora of them, each one photographed for posterity.

Follow the link to see it all.

March 19


More than 8,000 runners took part in the Liverpool Half Marathon on St Patrick’s day last weekend. This year’s race was the biggest included athletes from as far afield as Brazil, New Zealand, Canada and representatives of the Northern Boggarts. The elite athletes were humbled to be in the company of cavers. For health a safety reasons full SRT kit was not worn during the run as the Boggart contingent did not wish to draw undue attention to themselves. Suffice it to say both Boggarts completed the 13 miles in style and within 15 minutes of each other, with one person being 33rd in their age/sex category. Go Boggarts Go, if the legs are still working


March 12


..and this time the prize goes to Louise Waywell in the "Guess what Fred is stitching on his Singer sewing machine" competition.  Louise's prize winning entry was kneepads with Edward's entry of neoprene caving underpants coming a close second. The judges decided to award Louise the prize because although Edward was more imaginative than Louise, Louise's answer was the correct one and the judges felt it was only fair that she should win the prize.  Fred's entry was disqualified on the grounds that Tim might have seen him stitching the kneepads and fed him the correct answer.

Louise wins: an hour's training with Fred on how to stitch kneepads, an opportunity to stitch her own kneepads, a midweek caving trip using the kneepads on one of Fred's Northern Dales digs, and a day off work.  Phew, lucky Louise.



March 8

t is a matter of great concern that the fragile deposits of laminated clays in Victoria Cave remain largely unprotected and are undergoing rapid and extensive erosion due to visitor damage and rabbit burrowing. It is ironic that we have this record only because of the endeavours of the Settle Cave Exploration Committee in the 1870s.  They left the sections  exposed providing an unprecedented opportunity for research, but coincidentally leaving them open to damage.  Victoria Cave is unique within the Yorkshire Dales National Park, and unique within Britain, because of its remarkable long stratigraphic sequence (Lord, Lundberg and Murphy, 2012). 

Recent Boggart activity in Victoria Cave and described in the latest edition of Descent has brought the urgent need to prevent further erosion of the sediments to the fore.  The issue of rabbit burrowing remains problematic but conservation minded boggarts realised that if no-one esle is going to do anything about it then boggarts should.   Last week’s adventure walk therefore took us to Victoria Cave to monitor rabbit activity and bioturbation.   We found lots of old burrows but alarmingly we also found new ones in the muddy dark area at the back of the cave.   Lots of photographs were taken but the problem was more serious and more difficult to record than we anticipated, rabbits having burrowed much further into the cave than we expected.  So having photographed as many rabbit burrows as we could find, and noted rubbish and the remains of fires, we decided that a more thorough and professional exercise was warranted.  Hopefully this will follow under the auspices of Natural England.

From Victoria Cave we passed below the scarp of Attermire with Attermire Cave and Horseshoe Cave beckoning to us from above and then on past Pikedaw Caverns where one can never resist a quick lift of the lid and a look into the inky blackness below.  Then it was past Nappa Cross and over to the smelt mill chimney which ceased use in 1860 and was restored by the Earby Mines Research Group  and others a hundred years later.   Clear and cold with frozen ground and snow still lying in patches it was all very pleasant as we finally came back to our starting point at Winskill Stones passing the little explored Bat Cave on our way.

Follow the link to see pictures of the walk which includes a picture of some rubbish for the edification of Natural England volunteers.  You can just see Bat Cave in the final picture, high up in the middle of the background.

Follow this link if you want to see lots of rabbit holes.

March 3


You can now see the full text of Ghost Pot in the Archive


February 22


Fred has won two prizes in a recent BPC photographic competition (see the Photo Gallery).

Edward has won a prize with Leeds Writers's Circle for his short story about a ghost, a story which features caving.  We look forward to hearing more about this which gets a great review:

A vivid, frightening tale with a great sense of authenticity. Excellent use is made of the potential of the setting – the weird world of pot-holing, tailor made for story of terror, with the fear of getting lost and claustrophobia. Apart from the ghost aspect, this is a remarkable, graphic tale of suspense and fear. The scene within the pothole and on the freezing, foggy moor outside are grimly and plausibly realised, as are the anxiety and concern of the men in search of a missing comrade. The eeriness of the cave labyrinth, with its exaggerated noises and echoes of what might, or might not, be dripping water is captured, and it provides the perfect context for the suggestion of the supernatural, as the sounds could equally be the tapping of a hammer. This aspect is very well handled; the supernatural dimension is subtly and skilfully expressed. The possibility that the spirit of the dead caver may be responsible is gradually developed, with the chance of a rational explanation lingering until near the end. The suspense draws the reader along to the very end. A nice touch at the end, as to why the ghost isn’t haunting the moor, where he actually died, but rather the pot-hole. Finally this tale does more than tell a good ghoststory; it conveys something of the ultimate aspiration and passion that drives explorers into danger, and whereby they achieve a kind of spiritual fulfilment.

February 7



Fred reminded me that there had been a Boggart presence in the Berger in 2010 so rather belatedly I have put some of Fred's picture into the Photo Gallery.

1. A chat before setting off to Camp 1 with supplies
2. Ged and Fred before setting off to Camp 1
3. In the Meanders on the way down
4. Nearing the bottom of Aldos pitch
5. In the Hall of 13
6. At Camp 1
7. Crossing Lac Cadoux
8. Top of Aldos pitch
9. Top of Aldos pitch again
10. Control tent at the entrance
11.The Nicola Phone for communicating with Camp 1
12. Jimmy at the bottom of Cairn pitch
13. Jimmy and Fred brewing up at Camp 1
14. Jimmy and Fred in The Hall of 13
15. In the Meanders on the way back out
16. Prussicking up Cairn pitch
17. Jimmy at the top of Rutz pitch
18. Jimmy arriving back at the surface.
19. Surface control tent always manned when anyone is underground
20. Plaque at the entrance


February 2



Edward came across this interesting feature a while back and  I should have sent it out to Boggarts at the time (though many of you will have already seen it).  The original TV programme in 1998 featured a very young Phil Murphy as well as Andrew Chamberlain.  I don't know why this important cave doesn't feature in Andrew's gazetteer of hominid bearing caves. The cave was found in 1997 by cave divers, its location determined by radio (our Fred wasn't involved) and a dry entrance dug (easy stuff, they only had to remove 2 metres of spoil!) Sadly the iplayer link doens't work any more and only gives a hint of what you have missed (if indeed you did miss it).  
Originally thought to be 3,500 years old the human bones have been carbon dated to early Roman period c 100 AD.  Even so I don't believe ancient human footprints are known elsewhere in Britain.

January 30


Boggarts will remember (particularly those who were involved) of our dig at the end of the big passage beyond Inlet 5 (now accessed via 6.5¾).  It was squalid beyond belief and we left it for younger cavers.  However people hatched a cunning plan which was to capture the water from the roof inlet nearby and direct it via piping to the dig so that the water would do our work for us.  A few days ago Richard Bendall and Dave Ramsey climbed up into the roof gaining entry to the inlet and built a concrete dam.  All we had do now was connect a long enough pipe and direct it to our dig.

The Youtube tells the story so far.  In the event we didn't have strong enough pipe couplings to cope with the water pressure so we need to return with better ones.  We don't yet know if there will be enough water pressure at the dig face to do the job so watch this space.  We will down there again soon enough.

The links below take to a Youtube of the story so far and the website photo gallery pictures of Monday's efforts.


January 27


Hi all,

Completely forgot to send out pics of a trip I made with a pal of mine, Gordon. We went for a walk early in the new Year. The drive up to the Dales was in thick fog and as went went through Settle I thought we would be in for a miserable day. But you can see from the photos that as we went up the road from Langcliffe we rose above the clouds and had some fantastic views. When we came out of the cave we heard noises directly above us and saw a highland coo looking down on us. As you can see from the photos the coo was keen to meet its maker and wandered along the edge of the cliff. I had the camera ready for an action shot but the animal knew what it was doing.

The photos show the new barrier. Not sure if it fits in with the ambience of the cave. 

There's also a good shot of Pendle Hill from the mouth of the cave.

This message was sent out to Boggarts on May 24 2013. The subject was raised at the First Aid Course for Natural England volunteers on Wednesday January 23rd and is worth putting out again

(From Pete Bann) Just wondered if you knew about the following:


 999 Text Service to Assist Hill Walkers and Climbers

 Mobile phone reception in the Mountains can often be intermittent or non-existent. If you are involved in an incident on the hill and need to call assistance but cannot make voice calls, you may now contact the 999 emergency services using a short messaging service (SMS) text from yourmobile phone.

 The service was originally set up in 2009 for people who are hard of hearing or who have a speech impediment. The service has been successful in helping identify crime and enabling emergency calls to be made when otherwise contact would have been difficult or impossible for the people involved.

 The service will now assist those needing emergency assistance in the hills when mobile reception is poor and there is not enough signal to make a voice call. The benefit is that a text message can be composed and sent in a single operation. You should specify 'Police-Mountain Rescue' when sending the text, and include information about your location, nature of the incident and those involved.

 You will only be able to use this service if you have registered with emergency SMS first. Register now: don't wait for an emergency. To register, text the word 'register' to 999. You will get a reply - then follow the instructions you are sent. This will only take approx two minutes of your time and could save your life!

Emergency SMS Website