GSG Newsletter 130

2 April 2007


AGM Report 2007

The 2007 AGM was held in Elizabeth and Derek's house in Winchburgh on
Saturday 20 January with 16 members attending. A range of interesting
discussions took place, and full minutes are available from the
Secretary. Here is a brief summary of what took place:

Office Bearer's Reports

In relation to the Hon Recorder's report, there was some discussion
over the role of the Hut Log Book. Some members describe their caving
activities in the Hut Log but don't subsequently make an entry in the
Club Log Book which is held in Edinburgh. It was agreed that even if a
full description had been included in the Hut Log, a report should also
be made into the Log Book or by email to Goon. This could be brief but
should include at least the full names of those involved and dates. The
Secretary reported that a new web-site was being designed. The same URL
would continue to be used: www.gsg.org.uk The Treasurer presented the
accounts which showed a healthy surplus. No increase in membership was
needed this year as BCA subs had not changed. The Hut Warden highlighted
the need for continued hut maintenance and asked for support from all
members in the forthcoming year.

Election of Office Bearers

The Caving Secretary was standing down. There had been no nominations
or volunteers for this post at the meeting. It was agreed to try and
identify a suitable individual as soon as possible, but in the meantime
the Committee would assemble a meets list and the Secretary would obtain
the permits. The other committee members were willing to stand and were
re-elected en masse:
Chairman - Peter Dowswell, Recorder - Alan Jeffreys,
Secretary - Elizabeth Ellis, Tacklemaster - Peter Ireson,
Treasurer - Ivan Young, Hut Warden - Peter Dowswell,
Caving Secretary - Vacant

Publications

Caves of Assynt still requires some surveys to be completed. Other
publications discussed were Caves of Schiehallion, Caves of Raasay and
Caves of Applecross and Kishorn.

Meets for 2007

Suggestions included Notts Pot, Rumbling, White Scar, North Wales,
Mendip, Northern Ireland or County Claire. Any further suggestions to be
sent to any member of the Committee.

Annual Dinner

Votes were as follows:
Skye - 12 plus 7 postal votes; Assynt - 2 plus 2 postal votes;
Yorkshire - 1; Derbyshire - 0; Abstentions - 2

Skye was the winner, with a suggestion to also look at accommodation
and venues on the mainland eg Kyle, Kishorn and Applecross. Malcolm
McConville volunteered to help organize.

Constitution

The resolution to change the minimum age for GSG membership to 18 was
passed unopposed.

Elizabeth

A printed copy of the annual reports and accounts will be distributed
included with the paper copy of this Newsletter to members. They will
also be available on the GSG private web site as is the GSG Constitution


GSG Annual Subscriptions and BCA Membership Cards

Of last year's 136 members 121 have renewed, four have claimed that
their cheques are in the post, eight have been silent about their
intentions and three have resigned. Together with a record nine new
members the paid-up membership as I write this Newsletter stands at 130.
The defaulters have until the end of March to renew. If they don't,
their membership will be terminated on the 1st April. We are promised
BCA membership cards for those members who paid their subscriptions
before the end of February within a few days. If they arrive in time
they will be posted out with this Newsletter. If not you will be
informed by email when they have arrived and they'll be included with
Newsletter 131. Any member who doesn't want to wait can ask for their
card to be posted to them.

Ivan


Caving

ASSYNT

  • Rana Hole - The last Newsletter reported the arrival of longer
    scaffolding poles at Rana. In early December Roger Galloway and Annie
    Audsley used them to rebuild the headgear so it clears the bicycle winch
    as it is lowered to the ground. The following weekend completed the
    rebuilding process and 34 loads were extracted. Roger's first aid kit
    was used first for Julian who'd gashed his hand and them for Ivan who'd
    come off worst when a scaffolding spanner was dropped on his head. Scalp
    wounds do bleed remarkably well. This did prove that plasters need a use
    by date as none of the antique examples found in members' kits had much
    stick left!

    On Boxing Day J'Rat, Mark Brown and non-member Paul Brock arrived
    heavily laden to begin installing another section of flume, a deflection
    roller handcrafted by Norman Flux, and a cannibalized wheelie bin. On
    the 27th they were joined by Hugh Penney and new recruit Sebastien Rider
    with Goon paying a visit on the 28th. After the three days the
    installation was complete with buckets being hauled all the way from the
    bottom by a team of four. Rana novices Carly Payne and Ben Sellway (both
    BEC) then joined the team on the 29th. The rear bicycle saddle
    disintegrated and Ben adopted a lying on his back on the ground
    recumbent pedalling technique that actually worked.

    Norman Flux arrived on the 30th after a combination of buses,
    hitchhiking, and a night in the roadside shrubbery south of Ullapool. He
    immediately set about repairing the bike while Ivan helped rig the tent
    over it. Just in time since it then started hailing. Sue Hartwell cycled
    her way into the Rana Hole Diggers list as Mark counted his 21st Rana
    day in 2006. That must be a record. On the 31st Martin Hayes, Derek
    Pettiglio and Jamie (Boab) Yuill reinforced the team for another
    productive day with J'Rat blowing up a large slab before visiting the
    Inch then bringing in the New Year in the hut.

    It might have been the 1st of January, but that didn't stop half a
    dozen slightly hung-over heroes removing 109 loads from the bottom of
    Rana. Five of us dug and hauled, while Mark continued Hilti-capping and
    tidied up the engineering. Afterwards we staggered down the glen in
    moonlight to a pint or two at the Inch and an invitation to partake of a
    superb free buffet. On the 2nd, Mark, Norman and Ivan started by
    finishing a traverse 'ledge' at the top of the fixed ladder on the first
    pitch, adjusting the headframe, and renovating some of the kibbles (they
    are not to be called skips or buckets any more but kibbles, a mining
    term). When another pair of Rana novices arrived, George Kennedy and
    Fiona McCartney, we introduced them to the joys of cycling and removed
    40 loads for a total for the week of 456 kibbles. This is probably about
    15 to 18 tons.

    The next visit was by Ivan and Roger at the end of January. They
    installed some hand and foot holds on the traverse between the two
    pitches. These are large 'U' brackets formed from 12mm stainless steel
    rod and glued into the rock using the BCA approved resin (Though a month
    or so out of date hence the reason it wasn't being used to install
    P-hangers). It was very wet with a good stream flowing down the pitch by
    the time we finished. Despite this there was no backing up at the bottom
    with the water flowing away easily. In fact the bottom was about the
    driest place to be!

    There was an attempted digging trip on the 10th February, but
    drifting snow had filled the shakehole and the platform and bicycle
    winch were buried. The spindrift made staying there more than unpleasant
    so despite having a strong team in place we abandoned the attempt. On
    Saturday 24th, a fortnight later, most of the snow had gone - except in
    the shakehole. We had gone prepared with snow shovels so quickly
    revealed the bikes to find that the weight of snow had caused one
    support rod to buckle and snap into three pieces, one handlebar to break
    and the front of the scaffold platform to bend. A subtle curve had also
    been imparted to the main vertical members of the headframe. It took
    about an hour to repair the damage. Norman and Roger then arrived having
    driven up that morning and digging commenced. While the skips flew up
    and down the shaft Ivan inserted more stainless steel 'U' bolts. After
    digging had stopped for the day he inserted a 'snapper' into a large
    boulder at the bottom and caused a satisfyingly loud bang. On Sunday the
    boulder was found to have been suitable shattered and another 50 loads
    were hauled to the surface.

    The Moroccan meal weekend attracted plenty of folk to Assynt though
    competing activities meant that diggers arrived in batches throughout
    the day. Despite the lower deflection roller suffering terminal
    collapse, 117 loads were removed on Saturday. On Sunday a reduced team
    of seven hauled out another 50. Another 'snapper' was used on the large
    horizontal slab poised above the final ladder. A loud bang and much
    clanking of metalwork as fly rock bounced off ladders confirmed its
    destruction. The digging is still easy with the water flowing away down
    a narrow channel under the left-hand wall. The way on is downwards, but
    there is at least one more large boulder that needs to be reduced to
    kibble-sized chunks rather than left poised far above the work area.

  • ANUSC - This saw several visits over the New Year period and a
    surveying trip in the Farr Series at the end of January. On the 10th
    February a group of Roger's friends from Graham Tiso went just about
    everywhere. New member Jamie Yuill managed to force his manly frame
    through the Sphincter into the Farr Series and regretted it for most of
    the following week. I believe the pain has now eased. Perhaps it is time
    to dig it out again? A combined surveying and Sphincter clearance trip
    is needed.
  • CLAONAITE - Fraser managed to capture another 20 minutes of video
    during the Moroccan weekend before the camcorder stopped. The filming,
    starring Dave Warren and Goon, progressed along Cavity Wall Passage and
    has now reached Sump 2.

YORKSHIRE

Peter Ireson and Mark Lonnen continue to be the main supporters of
GSG Yorkshire trips. There have been a couple of dangly visits to Ireby
with variously Derek Pettiglio and returning member John Varty. Both
Bubbles and Shadow route have been done. There have been visits to Lost
John's Cave, Rift Pot and assorted small caves around Ribblehead. In
early March with Chris Chapman and Simon Turner they joined Alison
Fuller-Shapcott and the other EUG members on their Wretched Rabbit
permit for a fine though confusing trip around the intricacies of that
part of Ease Gill Caverns. On the Sunday a Valley Entrance visit led to
much exploration around and beyond Toyland and a tackle sack of valuable
ropes and hardware being left behind. When Peter realised this he
recruited Ivan for a rapid recovery trip on the Monday. We were in the
cave by 11am and at the Marton Arms by 12 to find it wasn't serving
midday meals during the week till April! A short drive led to a couple
of pints of Black Sheep and a good and reasonably priced pub lunch in
the Whoop Hall Inn en route to the M6 and back home in time for evening
appointments.

SKYE - High Pasture Cave C14 Dates

Steve Birch has had one set of about 15 C14 dates back from the
laboratory. These range from about 250BC for the upper levels in Bone
Passage back to c1500BC in a pit/scoop feature from a surface trench to
c130BC for charcoal rich deposits containing small finds at the foot of
the stairwell into Bone Passage. This is beginning to sort out the
chronology of the site, and when the next set of dates arrives Steve
should be able to piece together the history of the cave. One exciting
find made last year was a set of seven bone pegs which have now been
tentatively identified as tuning pegs from a seven string lyre. Steve is
awaiting confirmation on this.

This is a very rich site for finds. While I was giving the electrical
installation its annual health check Steve noticed something revealed in
the wall of the dig by the winter's rains. It was a fragment of a large
soapstone bowl perhaps 40cm in diameter and 2.5cm thick. I wonder if
he'll find the rest?

GLASGOW TOWER

Not a caving trip but a fine opportunity to do a significantly long
dangle down Scotland's tallest building. Peter Ireson and Mark Lonnen by
mentioning the SCRO somehow wangled an invitation to join a group abseil
off the 127m high tower at the Glasgow Science Centre.

Ivan


BCA News

The BCA's AGM is being held in the Baptist Church Hall, Alvechurch
Worcestershire, on Saturday 24th March from 10:30am. All GSG members are
entitled to attend and vote as they are either Direct Individual Members
(DIMs) or Club Individual Members (CIMs) of BCA. You are required to
present your BCA membership card at the meeting which will pose some
challenges to the BCA to issue them and for me to distribute them in
time. There will be a list of paid-up members at the meeting so cards
won't be essential. CIMs do need evidence that they a member of a
paid-up club. Any GSG members wanting this should contact Ivan. AGM
documents can be seen on the BCA web site -
www.british-caving.org.uk


Six Die in Canary Islands Tunnel

Six people died in early February in 200 year old tunnels on the
Spanish island of Tenerife, one of the Canary Islands. The complex of
tunnels was originally dug to find water and the fatalities were being
blamed on a build up of carbon dioxide. A group of 30 went into the Los
Silos tunnel system on Saturday 10th Feb without a guide, took a wrong
turn and became lost. One of the group escaped, possibly aided by a
stray dog. The authorities in a 17 hour long operation rescued the other
23 survivors many of whom were unconscious when found.


Mining Museum could Collapse!

The Scottish Mining Museum at Newtongrange is looking for more
money. The buildings are in urgent need of remedial work if they are not
to collapse and the museum close within ten years. They hope funding
from the lottery will help raise the L2.5M needed plus another L1M for
improvements.


Caving in the Abode of the Clouds - 2007 Meghalaya, NE India

An Overview

An International Team of up to 33 Cavers (comprising of 1 Austrian,
17 from the UK, 4 Irish, 1 Swiss, 1 American, 1 Canadian, 4 Germans and
3 Indian (Megahalaya) Cavers) spent three and a half weeks (5th to 28th
Feb) exploring caves in the Jaintia Hills District of Meghalaya.
Exploration focused on the caving areas of the Shnongrim Ridge near to
Shnongrim Village in the Nongkhlieh Elaka, the Lukha valley to the south
of the ridge and the Semasi Area to the North East.

During this time a total of 24 caves were explored, mapped and
photographed to yielding almost 16 kilometres of new cave passage, of
which 11.8km was on the Shnongrim ridge. Of the 24 caves mapped 16 of
these were entirely new caves. Key aspects of this year's exploration
include.

  • The exploration and linking of several sinks to the Krem Liat Prah
    Cave System (India's longest cave), extending it from 22,202m to
    25,225m.
  • The exploration of Krem Labbit Moolesgni extending it from 649m to
    3,775m in length and connecting it to the Krem Rubong resurgence,
    creating a 4,590m system.
  • The extension of Krem Tyngheng in the Semasi area from 7,752m to
    9,221m in length
  • The extension of Pielklieng Pouk/Sielkan Pouk in the Lukha valley
    from 10,428m to 12,434m in length. In addition to this the team
    completed several 3.5km through trips in this impressive river cave,
    which is mostly swimming.
  • The discovery and exploration of several new caves that have filled
    in previously blank sections of the overall cave map of the Shnongrim
    Ridge. Two of these that are still ongoing are Krem Umsngad sink
    (currently 1,265m) and Kdong Thloo resurgence (currently 1,185m),
  • The discovery and exploration of caves that have increased the
    total length of cave passage explored and surveyed on the Shnongrim
    Ridge from 127 kms to 138 kms in total. This being the greatest
    concentration of cave passage in one place within the Indian
    Sub-Continent.
  • The connection via a crawl of two existing caves Krem Umthloo and
    Krem Synrang Labbit and an additional sink Krem Wah Lukor, to create a
    system 18km in length and, therefore, the third longest cave system in
    India.
  • The continuation of the project to map the topography of the
    Shnongrim Ridge to show the extent of the limestone and the location and
    juxtaposition of the majority of the caves on the Ridge. This exercise
    alone has played a significant role in unlocking the secrets of the
    Ridge, contribution to the locating and exploring of additional
    significant cave systems as detailed above and giving a much better
    understanding of how the caves were formed.

To date the whereabouts of over 1100 caves are known, of which 653
have been explored to yield in excess of 310 kilometres of surveyed cave
passage, with much more still waiting to be discovered. Much of the
cave that has been found to date is impressive river cave mixed with
huge fossil passage that creates cave systems equal in size and beauty
to any found elsewhere in the world, putting Meghalaya firmly on the
world-caving map as a significant caving region.

In the latter part of 2006, a Public Interest Litigation was filed by
the Meghalayan Adventurers Association to the Indian Supreme court, in a
bid to protect the Shnongrim ridge area from excessive and potentially
unregulated limestone quarrying and coal extraction. This action had
lead to some concerns being raised by the coal mining community that
surrounds the ridge. To address these concerns a meeting was held
between the expedition leaders and the heads of the mining fraternity
with the subsequent dialogue serving to reassure the latter that the
court action would not threaten their livelihoods. The expedition was
thus able to proceed with the full support of the local people and
mining companies.

In the achievement of the above the Caving in the Abode of the Clouds
Project is indebted to the help and support it has received from; the
Meghalaya Adventurers Association, particularly Brian Kharpran Daly, the
Government of India Tourist Office (East and North East India) Kolkata;
the Meghalaya State Tourism Department; Officials and Government
Departments within Meghalaya; and, very importantly, the People of
Meghalaya.

Simon Brooks/Mark Brown

Extracts from a J'Rat email

Both ends of the 134m connection between Krem Umthloo and Krem
Synrang Labbit were wide open but unpushed - another classic case of
check ALL passages! Armed coppers briefly at camp to deter threatening
coal mine owners. All later sorted vaguely democratically! Weather cold
and damp (global cooling). X-ray proved J.Rat's brain exists!


Le Vercors - an Audio Visual Presentation

On the 2nd June 2007, Photographer Glenn Jones from the BCA will be
presenting his award winning audio visual (AV) presentation on Le
Vercors National Park in South East France. The presentation uses 6
synchronised projectors and took several years to construct. It shows
the beauty of Le Vercors region both above and below ground. Le Vercors
has been shown at successive Hidden Earth Conferences and in 2002, won
Glenn the Giles Barker award for excellence in cave photography.

The Le Vercors presentation will be followed by another of Glenn's AV
presentations, 'DSS The Movie', which is a light-hearted and
entertaining record of the Devon Speleological Society's expedition to
the Gouffre Berger in 1998.

The event is to be held in Ednam Village Hall (post code:- TD5 7QQ)
in the Scottish Borders starting at 7.30pm. Tickets will be L4 each,
with all proceeds from the tickets going to the RNLI. Tickets will be
available in May from Alison Fuller-Shapcott.

Ednam is about 2 miles north of Kelso on the B6461 and more
information on Glenn and his AV presentations can be found at
www.andromeda-park.demon.co.uk


New Bunkhouse in Clapham

There is at long last an independent (licensed even!) bunkhouse in
the centre of Clapham. It has accommodation for 17 people - 1 x 5
(family room) and 1 x 12. Prices start from L10 per person per night and
they cater for group bookings. Facilities include basic cooking
facilities, bathroom, showers, toilets and drying room plus a licensed
lounge. There is parking for 2 mini buses. Accommodation available from
Easter 2007

Telephone Anne on 07768 277730 or on 015242 51144 daytimes, 015242
51522 (evenings), web site:- www.claphambunk.com


CLOSING A BOOK UNFINISHED

Vale: Dave 'Whig' Irwin

Cavers come and cavers go, but some stay forever - or almost. In the
world of bibliography and cave history, Dave Irwin of the Bristol
Exploration Club was undoubtedly a leading figure. His tireless search
for references and the depth of detail he went into tracking down
obscure facts is plainly obvious from his magisterial work: 'The Mendip
Cave Bibliography', a two volume work published in 2005. Containing over
25,000 references amounting to 1.1 million words, this work surveys
information dating back to 883 AD and, even at 530 pages, is merely the
bibliography for the Mendip Cave Registers for which Whig was central
co-ordinator. His endless collecting and examination of cave postcards
also was pursued to its logical limit by tracing information on the
subjects in the state they were photographed, and using this to locate
lost or altered systems, or to straighten out misreported elements of
speleological and social history.

Whig always held a lively interest in Scottish cave affairs (cf Bull
4th Series 2(2) pp.34-35) and was a close personal friend of several
members. At my last meeting with him in October 2006 typically he took
delight in showing me a collection of early BEC photographs he had just
recovered from abroad, and talked enthusiastically of the many projects
he was moving forward, some alas, now to remain unfinished.

His home was always filled with a warm welcome accompanied by
classical music and his life filled with matters speleological and
historical. This was someone we, particularly the Mendip community,
could ill afford to lose. He died at home on 26th March having left an
astonishing mark on British cave research.

Alan L. Jeffreys


2006/7 Meets and Events

See the events page.


Missing GSG Equipment

Could all members with GSG equipment in their possession please tell
Peter Ireson (GSG Tackle Master) as soon as
possible. There are several items whose location is now unknown. In
particular Peter is looking for a blue helmet and attached light that
was last used at the SCRO exercise in October and was later seen in the
hut. It isn't there now.


GSG Photo Gallery

Most photographs used in GSG Newsletters can be viewed in colour on
the GSG private web site. This now has 60 albums containing over 1600
photographs. See Newsletter 125 for access details.


Membership News

This year's new members are:-

Rebecca Carter, Norman Flux, Annie Audsley,
Fiona McCartney, Sebastien Rider, Robert Sommerville & Carol Dickson,
John Varty, Jamie (Boab) Yuill.

New addresses

Bob Batty, Gair Dunlop, Stephan Hoenig, Paul Sowan,
Julian & Carol Walford.

Other Changes

Stephen Elwell-Sutton, Rachael Huggins, Malcolm McConville.

  • Dan Harries & Fiona Ware - are now proud parents. Their daughter,
    Rosie, was born at 4am on Thursday 15th March weighing 6lb 5 oz and
    measuring 46cm long. Dan comments that "She should fit through some
    pretty tight squeezes once she can crawl & we can fit her up with a
    critter cam! She likes to stay up making lots of noise and drinking
    (milk) until the early hours of the morning and then sleep until midday.
    She should fit in well with the GSG once we can get her to switch from
    milk to beer."
  • Alex Scott and Peter Dowswell starred in an Assynt edition of Radio
    4's Open Country broadcast at the beginning of March. This was recorded
    on site starting at the Bone Caves where Alex spoke about the geology,
    the formation of the caves and the bone deposits found there. Peter took
    over the descriptions as they explored the passages and then moved round
    to Rana Hole to amaze the broadcaster with the deep shaft, the tandem
    bike and the dedication required to continue digging for over 11 years.
  • Preston White reports that he managed to get underground while on a
    Christmas holiday with his wife in Fuergirola near Malaga southern
    Spain. First was a tour of some of the Gibraltar tunnels (not all 32
    miles). Second they visited Cueva de Nerja and its spectacular
    formations. This cave has over 7km of passage and according to the
    leaflet it is possible for groups to see more than the normal tourist
    paths - www.cuevadenerjo.es. There is mention of tours lasting seven
    hours for groups of ten for 90 euro.

    Wall paintings found inside the caves date from the Palaeolithic and
    post-Palaeolithic periods while skeletal remains and artefacts show that
    they were inhabited from about 25,000 BC until the Bronze Age. Part of
    the cave has been made into a theatre for staging concerts and ballets
    during the summer. This year they are planning the 38th International
    Cave Festival.

  • Irina Erchova - visited a lava tube in Thingvellir National Park,
    Iceland in December. She writes "The cave has two entrances about 600 m
    apart: the larger is on the photo, for the small entrance one has to
    crawl. The cave is up to 10 m wide, up to 4 m high, only a few meters
    under the surface. The temperature was just above zero, all surfaces
    were icy and slippery. It is a typical lave tube and has very smooth
    walls at the lower part of the tunnel. There are a few interesting
    features: some formations on the ceiling from melting lava, some
    red(ish) spots from melted iron and amassing ice stalagmites (probably
    seasonal)."
  • Murdo McLeod - emails that "It's the end of the road for Bow Well
    Antiques. We will be leaving the shop on the 15th of March much to the
    relief of everyone around me who have had to put up with mega stressed
    grumpy me. We have leased the shop out. It's going to be a Juice bar
    /gallery. We will resume trading online and by appointment from home
    in about 2/3 months so watch this space."
  • Steve Birch - presented his lecture "Ritualising the domestic: the
    excavation of an Iron Age shrine at High Pasture Cave, Skye" on Monday
    12th March to the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. Half a dozen GSG
    members were amongst the 100+ audience in the lecture theatre of the
    Royal Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh. All appeared impressed with Steve's
    explanation of this rich and complex site. Steve repeated his lecture
    the following day in Aberdeen.

Volunteers Required!

There are some opportunities awaiting members wishing to help in the
running of the GSG. First Ivan needs a volunteer for an independent
examination of the annual accounts - not an audit as that word now
implies that a professional is required. We just need a reasonably
competent individual. Second there is the unfilled post of Caving
Secretary awaiting a keen young caver, but we've already mentioned that.
The third is for cave guides to help with the Ullapool High School trips
in Assynt after the Midsummer BBQ weekend. Contact Ivan if you can help
and remember - ask not what the GSG can do for you but ...


Elphin Caving Centre

The social side of the GSG has been well satisfied over the last few
months. The Xmas party in December was attended by 18 members plus
special guests Janet and Raymond Hoy, Christine Robertson and neighbours
Russell and Bridie Pursey. All managed to squeeze into the conservatory
for another great meal by Peter Dowswell - though it was a tight fit.

Starting on Christmas Day there was a strong Mendip and Sheffield
attendance reinforced from Scotland to do justice to two barrels of beer
from the Black Isle Brewery. All rose to the challenge and they were
returned empty in the New Year after much dancing and falling about.

The GSG Burns Supper in January was the next culinary experience with
chef Peter Dowswell addressing the haggis and Goon giving a superbly
animated rendition of Tam o'Shanter. There were fewer members attending
than expected and several had to consume an entire haggis each.

In March the flavour was Moroccan and 28 sat down to another
magnificent Dowswell meal. The numbers were such that while half dined
in the conservatory the rest sat at another table in the main room.
Several members took the theme to heart and dressed accordingly. A
valiant attempt was made at emptying another barrel of Red Kite from the
Black Isle Brewery, but there were still a couple of gallons remaining
when we took it back to Inverness for Peter to return to the brewery -
eventually!

The next GSG events in the hut will be the Mendip Migration at the
end of April and the Midsummer BBQ in June. More information on both
will be circulated via email nearer the events.

Hut Bookings

Hut fees are £5.00 per night for non-members and L2.50 for GSG,
Bradford and BEC members. Reduced to £3.00 and £2.00 for children,
students, the unemployed and OAPs. Camping is at a reduced rate of £2.00
only when the hut is full. Day fees are £1.00 for members and £2.00 for
non-members. If you want to stay in the hut at any time please contact
the Hut Warden - Peter Dowswell - to check if there will be space.
There will usually be a few bunks
spare if large groups are staying. Even if all bunks are occupied the
bed-settees by the fire are recommended and spare mattresses in the
front bunk room can be used in the conservatory.


Hut Building

The next part of the GSG's master plan to cover our piece of Assynt
in concrete is an extension to the existing shed. This has always been a
bit cramped and the plan is to build a mirror image at its rear. The
size will depend on how easy it is to excavate the banking behind it.
Mike O'Driscoll has made a fine start to this and in the process moved
two of rowan trees to the front where we shall see if they survive.
Peter has created a list of hut maintenance tasks and it is included in
the bundle of annual reports distributed with this Newsletter to
members. Have a look, see where you can contribute and volunteer. Don't
leave it to the same few members all the time.

Farewell Old Hut

The old hut is in the process of being returned to Dick whose croft
it lies on. Most things of any value or use have already been removed.
Goon and Dave Warren spent some of the Moroccan weekend removing
internal fittings, bunks and mattresses and building a large bonfire in
the car park. A scrap metal dealer who happened to be in the vicinity
was happy to take away all the old metal - bedsprings, sinks et cetera.


Assynt News

  • The Assynt Foundation - have caused controversy with a feasibility
    study for a community wind farm. The scale and location of this haven't
    been agreed yet, and SNH, the John Muir Trust and Highland Council are
    all involved. Some details can be found on the Assynt Foundation web
    site where board meeting minutes and Newsletters can be downloaded:-
    http://www.assyntfoundation.org

    Also in the minutes is a note that Elphin School will be taken over
    by the Assynt Foundation once the Minister of Education gives his
    consent and its state of repair has been checked.

  • More Sutherland Wind Farms - objections to wind farms in Strath
    Halladale and Glen Cassely are also featuring in the
    Northern Times.
    That in Glen Cassely is on Mohammed al
    Fayed's estate and was approved by Highland Council's planning committee
    before the full council rejected it after a 'U' turn. The proposal is
    for 23 turbines on Beinn Rosail which, it is claimed, will be visible
    from Cul Mhor and Suilven.
  • The Alt - still closed. Several potential buyers have appeared and we
    all hope for a quick sale both for Christine's sake and so that we will
    have somewhere nearby to slake our thirst.
  • New house opposite hut - The ground behind the red telephone box was
    cleared in early February and a septic tank installed. Foundations have
    now appeared and Russell Pursey the former owner of the field tells us
    that a couple are having a bungalow built there. Russell also says that
    BT have told him that the telephone box will remain. It would also be
    nice if it worked reliably!
  • Fish Farm Dismantled - The Allt nan Uamh fish farm has lost all its
    tanks and the rotary filter by the stream has been removed. The sheds
    remain at the request of the estate which has applied for outline
    planning permission to replace them with a house. We understand that
    this will be for someone to work on the estate.
  • European Geoparks Network Conference 2007 - Launched in September
    2005, the North West Highlands Geopark,
    Scotland's first, stretches from
    Ullapool to Durness. So far there are 23 Geoparks in Europe and 35 in
    the world. This year the European Geoparks Network Conference, 2007 is
    being held in Ullapool from the 13th to the 17th September. Both during
    the conference and the week afterwards there will be a series of field
    trips. We have the opportunity to help lead trips into the Assynt caves
    and should do so. We don't know yet when the field trips might take
    place but if you'd like to help please let Ivan know.
  • The Inchnadamph Hotel provided a free firework display and a buffet
    at New Year. Unfortunately most of us had made other plans and consumed
    too much to drive there! A carload did attend from the GSG hut while the
    rest of us continued emptying two barrels of Black Isle beer. We did
    'first foot' the Inch after caving on the 1st, bought a few beers and
    were then invited to help ourselves at the superb buffet. Many thanks to
    Richard and Jaimie for their hospitality.
  • New Bridge - The bridge over the Allt an t-Srathain just north of
    Ullapool is being completely replaced. A temporary bridge with traffic
    lights has been erected just upstream of the site. The old bridge has
    been demolished and the new is rapidly appearing.

Internet Caving

The second edition of 'Life On A Line' by Dr. Dave Merchant is now
available as an eBook. This is subtitled 'The Underground Rope Rescue
Manual', but is not just for cave rescuers. It should be read by every
caver who relies on ropes, slings, harnesses, anchors, abseiling and
ascending hardware for their continued existence - in other words just
about everybody. We should all know the limitations of our chosen gear
and have some knowledge of how to rescue a companion - and how not to!
This isn't a SRT manual but fills in a lot of gaps they don't cover. Its
advice is based on a lot of testing and trashed much expensive gear in
doing so. For this reason it isn't a free download. If you go to the web
site you'll be asked to pay $14.95 or about L8 for the 39Mbyte download
of the PDF file. The GSG has a copy in the library and several members
have downloaded their own copies. You can either view it on-screen or
print it out - all 221 pages! A colour printer is recommended. More
details and sample pages at:-
www.lifeonaline.com


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