CU 1971 Contents Page Next:
Three Counties Grows - the Latest

Cambridge Underground 1971 pp 2-5


To celebrate the Editor's wonderful New Look Journal, I decided that a new-look Presidentorial was needed. I began by changing that awe-inspiring title - but inspiration ran out .....

THE YEAR BEGAN with a cold, wet and windy P.8, followed by a still colder, wetter and windier Yorkshire meet. But these attempts to dissuade the new novices failed, and by the third meet of the term, there were more of them than leaders. It was during this period that our Secretary, Pete Leigh - then a freshman - hurriedly bought a new wetsuit after a severe case of frostbite of the right nipple. There were large parties for Stoke Lane II and Swildons on the Mendip meet before Christmas, also a very wet one.

Though many novices survived all these hardships, the wet beginning ensured that they were all wearing neoprene by Christmas. By then most were reasonably competent, although we later found we had made a serious mistake in not including enough ladder pitches early on. Also unfortunate was the disappearance of the traditional Christmas Dinner on the Mendip meet - this must be swiftly rectified in future.

The Christmas Vac. meet must have been one of the most successful in recent years. First was a New Roof and Old Roof Traverse trip in Lost Johns', very enjoyable, though several novices found that getting out is harder than getting in, and not a few hards were annoyed by the amount of hauling to be done. The Penyghent trip on New Year's Eve was efficiently done in eight hours, with eight members reaching the bottom and three others the Boulder Chamber in low water conditions. We were out in good time for a splendid New Year's Eve in the Golden Lion, now sadly deceased. A trip in Little Hull surely one of the finest pots in Yorkshire, and a dash down Ireby Fell Cavern were the other two trips.

In the Lent term the first meet was to Mendip, where one party did a Swildon's Round Trip but muddy ducks defeated the Shatter Pot group. August Longwood the next day was notable for being in flood, and for the present Editor succumbing above the S-Bends to the overnight side-effects of rough cider.

As one of the few members of the club not to do the Bar-Dis. exchange on the next meet, I gather from those who went that this fell into the Epic Class - see the article in the last journal by Noel (who, coincidentally, was himself on the meet). Next day's Alum trip was enlivened by Phil's rigging the big pitch ten feet short and finding out ten feet from the bottom. P.U. was again at fault.

Before dispersing for Easter, the club dashed up to Derbyshire for a Giants - Oxlow trip. But... the minibus hired had a bonus of a water system frozen solid, which took an hour to sort out; we got totally lost in Sheffield (where a nameless caver hung his head out of a window and claimed to be guiding us by the stars!); eventually, chugging-back in a vehicle afflicted by Terminal G.P.L., we returned at 3 a.m. Two parties completed the Exchange in very efficient times, and a third bottomed Giant's. Drifts made the Oxlow entrance tricky to locate, but tobagganing down the slopes above Giant's and changing in the snow by headlights still live in the memory.

Easter saw two great events; the first, the Inaugural Meet of the Jesus College Caving Club, on which numerous pots were attempted; the second, that Phil and I found the entrance to Black Shiver Pot and shattered the squeeze-myth by reaching the head of big pitch. The club's own meet to South Wales fades in comparison. But we were extremely well accommodated in the Westminster S.G's cottage, quite adequate for fifteen friendly cavers; Agen Allwedd was as boring as ever; Ogof Ffynnon Ddu, via Cwm Dwr, was absolutely suberb. We felt considerable pride in having navigated through Cwm Dwr without anyone who knew the route. An Ogof Afon Nêdd-Fechan trip in high water proved very exciting, and the system has the best Master Cave (*) we had ever seen. Some people on the meet developed an addiction to Porth-yr-Ogof, one or two of them apparently doing it every day.

After Knotlow Mine, caving finished until exams. There was so much caving done Post Tripos that I quail before the task of describing it especially as an oar-fixation stopped me joining them. However, from our log book (a fascinating document whlch our Editor might perhaps consider for the first full-scale hardback edition to come from his presses) I note:-

(i) a 'pre-Post Tripos meet' (work that out, if you can!) by Jesus College, who reached the head of the final pitch of several Yorkshire pots.

(ii) a club Post-Tripos meet in Yorkshire, where a large attendance enjoyed the hospitality of the Bradford Pothole Club at Brackenbottom. Several severes and superseveres were bottomed, but the usual drought conditions gave some members a deceptively easy introduction to such holes as Diccan, Meregill, Stream Passage Pot, Swinsto - Valley Entrance, Marble Steps and Tatham Wife.

There were further ventures underground before the summer meet in Ireland - Gautries Hole, Hardraw Kin, Tatham Wife and the like. These evening and weekend meets by small groups continued the useful of tradition private meets outside the big club events.

Also during the vac two-hundred feet of new ladder were constructed, mainly by Jack and Andrew, involving ten days at the Engineering Labs - to whom thanks are due for the use of their excellent facilities. Of special interest were the results from testing ladder samples to destruction on their huge test machinery. We learnt some surprising facts about breaking strains - and relieved a few anxieties about the new ladder.

Ireland was the great event of the year for those eight who went and, as described elsewhere, had an energetic time. The weather, though not outstanding was reasonable, but black clouds could be seen gathering over the future of the club, as Messrs. Upsall and Nichols insisted on caving every day. Where will it all stop? Where are the gonk-days of yesteryear? (Ø)

After Ireland, Jack and Andrew did a major trip in P-8 before the next novice meet to check, amongst other things, on problems raised by the demise of the fixed ladder.

Then - the Black Shiver Meet. This pot had been high on our list of holes to be done ever since reading the 1968 ULSA Explorations Journal. Considerable advance planning assembled a crack team of Cambridge Cavers at Brackenbottom in September. As described elsewhere, this highly trained task-force bottomed the pot in 6¼, 6¾ and 8 hours with surprisingly little bother. Those with a little more time to spend in Yorkshire bottomed five others and attempted a seventh in this long weekend; classics such as Rowten, Notts Left-Hand, Little Hull, Hunt, Hull and - the one that got away - Quaking.

THEN IN OCTOBER we took a bus-load of novices up to a cold, wet and windy P.8 - but this is where you came in....

Also during this year we held a very successful Dinner to celebrate C.U.C.C.'s 21st Anniversary, where it was pleasant to meet several ex-members with whom we had lost contact. At a culinarily lower level, Pete Leigh held fine lunches in his rooms which were each week's Social Event. A caving film was shown, and a lecture given by Vic Brown's father, a member of the B.S.A. group which discovered so much cave in the 40s and 50s.

Overall, it has been a most successful year. Especially pleasing was the creation of a second College club at Jesus to add to-the established (one-man) one at St. John's. Forming these small College clubs does currently seem the best way for individuals to get financial help from Amal. Clubs funds. Though we were helped by a £20 grant this year from the Societies' Syndicate, a University body, we still look with envy at the enormous sums received by other Cambridge clubs and caving clubs at other Universities.

Well, that was my bit. A long and happy caving career to all my readers:


READERS taking offence at the anti-Jesus tone of much of this article may wish to remind J.H.L. that, except on the rare occasions when the entire committee turns up AND the President exercises his additional casting vote, Jesus can assume complete control of the Executive at the drop of a helmet. SIEG HEIL!

(*) The man means 'streamway' [back to text]
Ø Where was that stooped and mealy-coloured old scout I used to call President when the minibus broke down? (For J. and R.L.) Ed. [back to text]

CU 1971 Contents Page Next:
Three Counties Grows - the Latest