GSG Newsletter 127
6 July 2006
Annual Dinner 2006
After intensive research Graham (Jake) Johnson has found what sounds
to be an ideal venue for this year's GSG Annual Dinner in South Wales.
This will be held on Saturday 4th November in the Rifleman's Arms,
Blaenavon. They have a large function room where we eat and drink with a
screen for showing videos and DVDs. There is a late licence till 2am
with a good selection of beers.
We apologise now for breaking the normal tradition of holding it on
the last day of British Summer Time chosen to give an extra hour to
recover on the Sunday morning. The change was so we could book the
nearby Pwll Du Centre for that weekend. Some rooms are available in the
Rifleman's Arms at £60.00 for a double, £30.00 for a single, £80.00 for
a family and £90.00 for the bridal suite! Phone Jackie and Gary
Griffiths direct at 01495 792297 if you want to book one.
The Pwll Du centre has been extensively renovated since we used it
for the 2000 dinner. The bunks are now split between six smaller rooms
sleeping between 1 and 6 in each for a total of 21 (it was 28 last
time). Cost will be £11.00 for the Friday plus Saturday nights and the
first 21 to pay their £11.00 will be allocated bunks. Smokers will have
to light up outside the Centre and you need to bring sleeping bags and
pillowcases. Jake has paced it out at 1.7 miles from the Rifleman's, so
it is within staggering distance after the dinner provided you are good
at staggering uphill: there is a 100m hill between the two.
The Centre is ideally sited with the entrance to Ogof Draenen's 70+km
of passage to one side and the Lamb and Fox on the other - camping is
said to be available there.
Other accommodation is available in the area though the Internet is
surprisingly quiet about anything in or near Blaenavon (or Blaenafon as
insisted upon by some sites). If members can recommend any B&Bs or other
places to stay in the area please let Ivan know and he'll pass the
Fiona Ware, GSG Caving Secretary, will be arranging caving trips and
any offers of assistance in gaining access or guiding parties will be
most welcome and should be made to her. Ogof Draenen must be on the
agenda and other major Welsh caves are within easy commuting distance.
If you would like to see a particular cave or caves on the list for the
weekend please do let Fiona know.
Wales is a long drive from Scotland, and several members have already
booked their flights and hire car to minimise travelling time and
maximise time in the caves and inns of South Wales. If you are able to
offer lifts or are in need of one send a message to Ivan and he'll
distribute them around the membership by email.
Numbers are limited in the Pwll Du Centre.
To maximize your chance of a bunk fill the
dinner booking form in and sent it to Ivan
with your cheque NOW
- Rana Hole - This year's Mendip Invasion saw Norman Flux of SUSS
arriving with a cycle winch he had build specially for Rana Hole.
Together with scaffolding poles, clips and platform it was all ferried
up to Rana and an intensive weekend's construction saw it installed and
in operation on the 30th April. A 'shelter' was also built over the dig
site at the bottom by Roger and Mark Brown so diggers are now protected
against anything falling down the BBC pitch. Over the course of the next
week the 'shelf' at the bottom of the main pitch was removed so that it
is now an uninterrupted 14m drop and one obstacle to winching all the
way from the bottom has been removed.
When winching started the sand bags we'd previously filled were found
to weigh up to 18kg each - a bit heavier than estimated. This is
probably because the Galloway bag filler made it so easy to overfill
them! Norman had constructed plastic metal reinforced skips that were
larger than the yellow buckets we had been using. On the 1st May Mark
measured the average weight of these when loaded at 30kg. Later in the
week many were loading the spring balance to its 50kg limit and the
average of 20 loads was 36kg.
Hauling is now a three man/woman operation on the surface: two
cycling and one removing and emptying the skips. Hauling BC (before
cycle) took three folk on the rope and two running up and down the steps
to empty the much lighter sandbags. The cycle time hasn't changed much
at about 1 minute per load, but the loads are at least twice as heavy.
Cycling even with the heavier loads and fewer folk is much easier than
hauling. Unloading and emptying is also easier as the loads are
delivered level with the top of the tip. It is still strenuous as the
loads are heavier and you don't get much, if any, rest between them.
By the end of the week over 640 loads had been removed and the
bearings on the winch drum were showing signs of wear. Norman took it
away for reinforcement and returned it a few weeks later. It was
reinstalled during the BBQ weekend when another 110 loads were removed.
These were all from the ledge between the two pitches as we didn't have
a large enough team to dig at the bottom. At present the minimum number
is three on the surface, one on the ledge, one as counterweight on the
BBC pitch and one or two digging at the bottom. Eventually we'd like to
be able to haul all the way from the bottom using the winch and
eliminate the counterweight man.
The tower is very visible from the surrounding hills, so to reduce
visits by the curious it is being lowered to the ground between digging
weekends. Its erection does need to follow a fairly exact procedure if
the winch is to work smoothly. A set of illustrated laminated
instructions is being prepared and will be kept in the tool box in the
- Calcite Cave - Nick Williams, Eddie Mason and Tangent spent a couple
of days capping, digging and blasting in this short cave behind the old
hut. It does draught so it is definitely worth continuing. The latest
report mentioned some instability as a result of the last bang and the
desirability of some shoring.
- Cnoc nan Uamh - After the BBQ weekend Ivan, Andy Peggie and Rachael
Huggins stayed on till Wednesday to escort groups of Ullapool High
School pupils round upstream Cnoc nan Uamh. We took one group each day
to the static sump at the end of Far Passage and when joined by Goon on
Tuesday and Wednesday gave them the option of returning through the
Rabbit Warren to Landslip Chamber. They all became suitably muddy and
claimed to have enjoyed it. There were eight pupils on Monday with only
three on the other two days due to several no-shows. Since several of
the last groups had been in Cnockers before, we also took them on a
quick trip into Lower Traligill. We showed them the damage wrought by
person unknown to the formations and impressed on them the need for care
- Hibernian Hole - In May Roger Galloway, Malcolm McConville and Peter
Dennis returned to the crawl explored by Roger in January (a previous
log entry by Andrew Ogilvie has since been found describing this crawl
so he gets the credit for first exploration). Some digging, drilling and
capping entered the sloping passage seen in January and a short descent
entered a horizontal passage formed at the junction of the limestones
and other rocks. The rock is much fractured and the instability of the
roof doesn't encourage a return. One large boulder in particular
appeared from the description to be held up by a smaller rock jammed in
place by a pebble resting on a grain of sand. Progress upstream proved
problematical as the slope in Slipway Chamber was very unstable scree
and it wasn't possible to climb it safely. A return with bolting gear is
planned as there is potential for a lot of cave in that direction,
though the deep pot and flood overflow just upstream of Hibernian does
raise doubts about whether it will be navigable.
J'Rat's Howff - and other surface work at Rana
Over the course of the Mendip Invasion Tony Jarratt started to build
a shelter by the tip at Rana Hole. Here are his thoughts on what to do
The drystone midge and weather shelter is almost complete. The spoil
heap should be banked around all of the walls for both camouflage and
support (the stones not being well keyed in due to a lack of long ones).
Another foot of height will be sufficient for sitting in (Peter Ireson
excepted!) and a roof of scaffold bars, grids and other assorted junk on
site built across and old tarpaulins and plastic sheets draped over -
also available on site. The whole lot should be turfed over and
discretely fenced to avoid being walked upon (I wonder if the deer will
obey? - Ed.). A lintel and low doorway need sorting out, but keep it
stooping size to keep out deer. The brass doorknob is in the tool chest.
I also suggest that the sides of the shakehole are cleared of as much
peat as possible to try and reveal the extent of the rock walls of the
shaft for possible complete excavation at a future date. Another stone
shelter could then be built in the back of the shakehole with the next
load of rock to come out. All the peat should be dumped on the spoil
heap to aid with camouflage.
Tony's comments raise several issues concerning what we do with the
surrounds of Rana Hole while digging continues, and what we do after the
breakthrough has been achieved. What we do should be agreed with the
estate and with SNH. At present Peter MacGregor, the keeper, and Alex
Scott for SNH are content - I believe. Alex even sees the tip as
providing more habitat variety and niches for some of the rarer plants.
Once digging finishes we will remove all digging gear and probably build
some form of gate over the entrance which if the estate require could be
locked. Landscaping the tip is something that we'll discuss with Peter
and Alex. The future of the shelter would be decided then as well.
Just one final point - if the shelter qualifies as an enclosed public
space will we need to erect No Smoking notices in it?
Visits to Ireby Fell Caverns and the Long Churn Caves were well
attended in April. After navigating our way through a people ruckle in
Lower Long Churn, new member Rachael Huggins was introduced to her first
ladder on the Dollytubs pitch. Other trips included a Hurnel Moss
descent by Peter Ireson and Mark Lonnan in July.
Equipment Colour Codes
The GSG web site now includes a list where members can add the colour
code they use to identify their gear. Log on to check what codes are
already in use and then add your own. Remember that red-green is exactly
the same as green-red, so please don't duplicate existing codes. Since
there are not many listed yet, I suggest anyone about to invent their
own code waits a month for other members to register their existing
- Appin - We have been accustomed when visiting the caves in Glen Duror
to drive along the forestry commission's tracks to park just below the
caves. Last year a gate was installed on the track at the forest
boundary and more recently it has been padlocked. I contacted the
Forestry Commission in Oban and they are willing to provide the GSG with
a key. Once this happens we will probably hold the key in Edinburgh and
issue it on request to club members. The FC are quick happy for us to
use their tracks. They just ask that we tell them in advance so that
they can warn us of any forestry operations that might affect us or stop
us. The agreement will apply to all their forests in the Appin area, but
is only really relevant to Glen Duror where driving saves us from a
significant uphill climb.
So if you are caving in Appin and want to drive along the Forestry
Commission's tracks you'll need to get the key and also tell them in
advance. If you park outside the forest and walk from there to the caves
no notice is required.
- Assynt - We had a chance meeting with Mr George Vestey, his family
and Peter MacGregor the keeper last year just below the Bone Caves.
That did serve to remind us that we have not had much recent contact
with the estate on access and we should spend more time keeping them
informed. I have sent a copy of Caves of Assynt to Mr Vestey and given
another to Peter. Peter has asked that he be contacted before parties
walk over the hills in the stalking season ie during August and
September (Stronchrubie Cottage, Tel:- 01571 822 208). This is not for
parties keeping to the main paths (eg to the Bone Caves), but does apply
to Rana and similar places. We will be talking further with him and will
publish the results in later Newsletters and in the new Caves of Assynt.
Park Farm Tunnels - In early 2005 the Scottish media - newspapers and
television - reported the discovery of ancient tunnels below a soon to
be opened Bistro at Park Farm near Linlithgow. Reported to be 1m wide
and 1.5m high and possibly over a mile long, this arched tunnel was said
to be monastic in origin. Months passed and early this year I was at the
Bistro for lunch. I enquired about the tunnels and was told by the
farmer that they still hadn't been fully explored. Offering our services
we arranged to visit one Saturday morning in April. Roger Galloway, Alan
(Goon) Jeffreys, Jim Salvona and Ivan entered the tunnel through a new
manhole in the car park while John Crae suffering from some minor
ailment provided comments from above.
Downstream we found the arched tunnel smaller than described at about
1m high. After a total of 75m it was blocked and the water continued on
into a glazed 45cm diameter pipe. Upstream the tunnel was rectangular,
60cm wide and 90cm high. After a bend it slowly descended and the water
level rose. Goon (the only one of us in a wetsuit) stopped when the
airspace dropped to less than a foot and could be seen to continue
reducing. This point was directly under the Union Canal. We could hear
running water in the distance so with a spot of baling in dry weather it
would be possible to continue onwards and under the field beyond the
The tunnel was surveyed and its probable outflow 400m away visited.
It doesn't appear to be much more than a field drain probably realigned
in about 1820 when the Union Canal was built. While it is possible it
might have a more interesting past, tales of monastic escape tunnels
stretching to nearby villages and manor house are likely to remain just
The silver mines at Silver Glen, Alva have not had more than sketch
surveys published of them. Alan Jeffreys decide that producing grade 5
surveys would be a worthwhile task for the GSG. Wanting to do things
properly, there followed protracted negotiations with the Woodland Trust
who are responsible for that area. Eventually, with permission gained,
five of us turned up in late April. Of the ten entrances listed in Mines
and Minerals of the Ochils (Clackmannanshire Field Studies Society 1974)
only two are open, seven are walled up or gated and the tenth has either
collapsed or been filled in. We did manage to squeeze into two of the
gated entrances, surveyed all the passage we could reach and GPS'd all
the entrances. This immediately showed the location map in the book to
be inaccurate with one entrance misplaced by 50m. A full report and
survey will appear in the GSG Bulletin.
During a family holiday on Skye Simon Brooks joined David Morrison
and Richard Simpson on a trip to the sump at the end of Meekons Cave (NG
66650 19440). A comfortable 15m dive passed sump 1 and reached sump 2
after another 16m. A second dive passed this after 5m to another 5m of
passage leading into sump 3. Lack of air then required a return after a
quick look at the first two meters of this. sump. This dive has doubled
the length of the cave, the way on is open and a return later this year
The sump in the nearby Strawberry Cave (NG 66260 20018) was next.
This found six metres of underwater passage with little chance of
A couple of days later Simon's fellow Orpheus members then invited
him into the sump in Uamh an T-Sill (Cave of the Seeds, NG 602197). It
appeared inviting but was a flooded 5.5m deep rift pot with another 1m
of narrowing passage at the bottom heading north with not much chance of
David then persuaded Simon with replenished tanks to visit Uamh an
Righ (Cave of the Kings, NG 85446, 43755) in Kishorn. The downstream
sump in Khufu Chamber was forced into steadily diminishing passage over
deep sediments for 8m when one of Simon's demand valves started to
object to the load of mud in its first stage. The upstream sump in
Khafre Chamber was even more constricted and required digging to enter.
Simon penetrated feet first on a single cylinder for about 3m to where
it appeared to be getting larger. He thinks that this sump is the more
promising of the two, but the mud banks at the start need to be dug away
to open it up before another dive.
Assistance Required in Applecross and Kishorn
David Morrison has been in Applecross recently checking sites - some
of which appear to be well decorated caves and is looking for
photographs for a forthcoming publication on the area. If you have any
please contact him. He is also looking for people to visit and help with
further photos and other field work.
Richard Simpson reports the entrance to Midge Cave (Caves of Skye p
66) has collapsed completely blocking access to this 5m long cave.
A 3.7m deep pot was found near Valley Head Cave but it goes nowhere.
A new cave has been dug into just above CG 35 (Caves of Skye p46). It is
about 5-6m long and needs more digging as it seems to continue. False
Willow Cave has been surveyed and gives 28m of passage. Some hammering
might give a little more.
SRT Loanhead - To allow new members to start learning SRT and older
members to derust their techniques eight members visited the disused
railway bridge at Loanhead in June. On a fine sunny evening we hung
several ropes from and through the girders and abseiled and ascended to
the blaring music and shrieking coming from the nearby fairground. This
is a good site with drops ranging from 10 to 40m with plenty of
opportunities for rebelays and deviations.
Four members returned to the west of Canada this spring. After a 27
hour trip from Glasgow to Tahsis they finally arrived at Canadian host
Martin's house at 2am.
The first few days were spent investigating leads in the Weymer
system. No major breakthroughs but quite a few missing pieces were added
to the overall survey of the system, connecting known passages together.
During this time Dan managed a couple of dives in the inlet.
Next was a boat trip to Nootka Island to stay in a fine surf shack on
a nearby uninhabited island. Some serious off-roading was needed to
reach a different part of Nootka island. An entrance that had been
spotted previously was explored, but it turned out to be a single cavern
rather than going passage. A search for more entrances failed due to
heavy undergrowth and logging debris.
They returned to Martin's for a day and after a look at Cape Scot
Provincial Park headed south to Hornby Island to visit Dale Chase. A few
known cave entrances were collected en route. During the few days they
spent with Dale activities included more diving by Dan, log splitting by
Pete I and concrete plinth construction by Dale, Dan, Pete D and Martin.
The trip finished with tourist activities in Vancouver visiting the
local gear shop, museums and the 'interesting' night life of China Town.
They claim not to have stayed long! Perhaps the Bulletin article will be
more informative on why. And a final note - this year's record daily
bear count was 12.
Present:- Peter Dowswell, Pete Ireson, Dan Harries, Martin Hayes.
High Pasture Cave - Iron Age Entrance Reopened
On 5th April 2006 the remaining deposits in the stairwell were
excavated and the archaeologists entered the cave this way for the first
time in over 2000 years. The stairwell is in remarkably good condition
with one wall showing evidence of rebuilding after a collapse. The
stairs are steep and you need to duck down to enter Bone Passage. All
the deposits were sieved and pottery; animal bones; antler, bone and
stone tools; a fragment of a vitrified stone crucible with adhering
copper/bronze deposits and a decorated stone palette were amongst the
and back to the Bronze Age
Excavations in Bone Passage have revealed many small finds especially
at the foot of the stairwell. Steve Birch is appreciating both the easy
access of the old entrance and the lighting installed last year. They
can actually see what they are doing! To quote the 2nd July 2006 report
on the website:-
"Artefacts associated with this layer included pebble tools, a fine
bone point, pottery sherds, glass beads, a stone palette, perforated
antler plates and a large granite saddle quern. Virtually all of these
items had been deposited at the transitional point where the man-made
stairwell meets the natural cave, indicating that this was a very
special place within the High Pasture's site. The wet-sieving residues
also produced charred cereal grains (mainly barley) and burnt hazelnut
"Two rows of stone, some of which are small paving slabs, are aligned
down the length of the trench (and passage) around 0.7 metres apart and
appear to correspond with the highest section of the passage roof.
Therefore, the rows of stone may have provided a form of kerbed walk-way
through the passage, allowing the maximum amount of headroom for people
accessing the cave."
Steve tells me that the layer now being excavated differs in
composition from those above and seems to run beneath the lowest step of
the stairwell. He hypothesises that this predates the stairs and could
be of Bronze Age when people could walk into the cave. The stairway is
essentially built up through habitation deposits - or, less delicately,
a rubbish tip. Originally the surface stream would have flowed down a
comparatively short incline into the cave. I imagine the ground was
built up around the cave entrance to stop the stream from invading
prehistoric man's sacred place.
Visit the website www.high-pasture-cave.org to read about progress,
see the pictures and read the specialist reports about the mammal and
human remains, the pottery and other finds.
Staffa - An opportunity for a day trip
As part of the negotiations with the National Trust for Scotland over
the GSG expedition to Staffa during 8 to 14 August, I have obtained
permission to organise a day trip for GSG members to visit the island of
Staffa and see its caves. The trip will be subject to getting agreement
with a trip boat skipper and, of course, the weather. These dates are
chosen because the Spring Tides coincide with the very low in height Low
Tide being around lunch time. The outline plan would be for people to
take the morning boat out leaving Fionnphort about 10am. You arrive on
Staffa at 11am and have until 3pm to do what you like. The boat gets you
back at about 4pm. Access will be available for Fingal's, Clamshell,
Cormorants, MacKinnon's and Goat caves plus Gunna Mor with minimal gear
(a light plus spare clothing in case of a soaking / wading into
MacKinnon's). The other caves require coastering with wetsuit and
Getting to Staffa is simplest via the CalMac Oban Craignure ferry.
There is a 10.30pm service on Friday night or 7.30am on Saturday
morning. (calmac summer timetables). There are
camp sites in Craignure or half a mile south of Fionnphort. There is a
bus service operated by
from Craignure to
Fionnphort. A bus runs on Saturday morning from Craignure at 8.25am
which claims to link with the 7.30am ferry from Oban arriving at 8.16am
and gets you to Fionnphort for 9.35am. Unfortunately the Saturday
evening bus goes before the boat gets back into Fionnphort, but if you
travel by car, the last Saturday ferry from Craignure is at 7pm. There
is a Sunday bus leaving Fionnphort at 9.20am which connects with the
ferry and gets you into Oban for 11.46am. (Fionnphort does have a pub.)
Alternatively, there are two ferries on Saturday morning at 7am and
7.45am from Lochaline to Fishnish which would enable you to drive to
Fionnphort in time to get the boat. There is also a 7pm ferry back from
Fishnish on Saturday. This route is cheaper than via Oban but also
requires you to make the
before 9pm on Friday or face a long drive around Loch Eil.
If any one is interested, then please get in touch with me either by
phone or Email. I am on holiday from 7th to 24 July, so please contact me on my mobile
Strath Kanaird Pot
This pot was found while attempting to rescue a dog in 1998 (GSG Bull
October 1998 pp 22-23). Goon wanted to relocate it for the new Caves of
Assynt so after guiding a group of Ullapool High School pupils in the
morning we took ourselves to Strathcanaird in the afternoon. To our
surprise we found what we assume was it at NC 16407 01000. We'd been so
lacking in confidence that we hadn't taken any caving gear so didn't
descend it. Another shakehole at NC 16472 01035 had a meter or two of
passage at the bottom and a third at NC 16028 00625 had two linked holes
that would give a 2m through trip for a ferret. The first two are part
of a 300+m line of shakeholes ending near a slope down to a marshy area
without any obvious resurgence.
2006 Meets and Events
See the events page for details.
Please send your requests and suggestions for other meets to me.
Fiona Ware - GSG Caving Secretary
Two keen new members to report this time:-
Rachael Huggins - has just completed the first year of her neuroscience
course at Edinburgh. She was a complete novice but after trips to
Yorkshire, Assynt and Bowden Hill Mine she is learning fast. She also
keeps ferrets. Now is that an opportunity for strapping a camera onto
one and exploring many of the too tight passages we have in Scotland?
Irina Erchova - is our latest recruit and is Russian /Italian with two
years membership in the Gruppo Speleologico Triestino.
Tony Jarratt email,
Ian Midgley mobile,
David Morrison email.
- John Crae - More news on the human skeleton found by John in Holyrood
Park. It was identified as a homeless 29 year old lad who went missing
in late August 2005. Identification was by matching bone samples using
the national criminal database with confirmation from dental records.
- Dan Harries and Fiona Ware caused some local alarm when they found a
shell (military not aquatic) in their Gilmerton garden. With the bomb
squad attending another alarm many miles away it was late in the day
before it was examined and declared harmless. Neighbours were warned to
stay away from their windows and a policeman was installed to guard the
object. In conversation he revealed that though boring it was a far more
pleasant duty than one earlier in the year. He'd been called to stand in
the middle of a bog during a blizzard in Holyrood Park to guard human
remains discovered by - see above!!!
- Proud granddad Snab (Peter McNab) reported on his return from New
Zealand that Snablet and Anette have produced another baby - a girl,
Annika Kirsty Alice McNab (AKA McNab!!)
- NEWS OF FORMER MEMBER
While in Dorset in May, before attending a tribal wedding in London,
I drove down to Wareham to see Nikki Bond (nee Brown) who used to be a
member - and indeed is still the only woman to have dived into Claonaite
She has been married to John Bond for 8 ½ years
and they have two
children, Nell aged 5 and Sandy (nearly 2). Having owned and run two
successive companies - a nursery and then a kindergarten school - they
have now sold all and purchased an old mill in Banff, which John plans
to spend a year (!) renovating. This is a 'Grand Designs' project which
will, I suspect, take a tad longer than that. (First job, hack down the
fireweed inside the building!)
Nikki confesses to have done minimal caving since 1997 but has
touched base a couple of times at Portland Bill and on Mendip. She sends
best wishes to all in 'North Britain' and will maybe show face in 2007-8
when (if) the mill rebuild is complete. When in residence John will
work as a carpenter and Nikki plans to engage in metal working and
jewellery manufacture. While the hard work goes on she will remain in
Elphin Caving Centre
The Midsummer BBQ had almost ideal weather this year. There were a
couple of light showers early in the day, but the weather cleared and
there was just enough breeze to keep the midges away both at Rana and at
the hut. Nineteen members and two canines attended with the latter
disgracing themselves by overfeeding and regurgitating in the middle of
the assembly. Peter Dowswell again catered more than adequately and
those members staying on to guide Ullapool High School pupils around
Cnockers had plenty to eat on Sunday and Monday.
Hut fees are £5.00 per night for non-members and £2.50 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
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.
GSG Meets Photographs
The GSG photo archive on the web server continues to grow. Most of
the photos in this Newsletter can be found on it in full colour and many
many more besides. Latest count is 1082 items in 42 folders.
Guilty until proved innocent
TV Licensing must be blitzing caving club huts. Soon after hearing of
the Bradford receiving an accusatory letter, Taigh nam Famh was blessed
with receiving a similarly threatening epistle. This red bordered
missive demanded a reply "to avoid your details being passed on to our
Enforcement Division for investigation". This appeared to be at our own
expense as only a 0870 number was given.
TV Licensing have no more right to demand replies from non-customers
than any other body so why should we have to reply at our own expense to
tell them we don't have a TV? However a swift look at the excellent
found an equivalent
Freephone number 08003282020 so I rang them up to tell them that we were
not a customer and had no intention of becoming one. The lad at the
other end told me that he'd note that down but that it would only
quieten them for a few months and they'd still want to inspect our
Since then another slightly politer letter has arrived at the hut
questioning our honesty and repeating their request for inspection. I
intend to ignore this and all subsequent letters. If they want to
inspect I will willingly go there to allow them access provided they pay
my transport and hourly charges in advance. About £500 should do it.
If they do arrive when you are in the hut remember that they have no
right of access. They cannot demand entry without a search warrant and
they can only get one of those if they show sufficient cause. What
should you do if they arrive when you are there? Tell them that they are
welcome to use the hut provided they pay the day fee of £2 per person -
in advance, in hard cash. If they insist on access try quoting the case
of Guest v Laidlaw before you lock them out. This is a case where their
insistence on trying to gain access without any evidence cost them a
High Court case and many thousands in damages and costs to the affronted
- Christine's Farewell - Christine closed the Alt on the 19th June
following its sale. It reopened on Saturday evening 24th June for a
farewell party with nibbles provided for everyone. Margaret and Janet
served and Christine was banned from behind the bar. This coincided with
the GSG Midsummer BBQ which was started earlier than usual for those
members wanting to join Christine. The Alt was packed with almost all of
the Alt regulars (and irregulars), and when all were assembled they were
ushered outside for John Ross to gave an emotional farewell speech.
Peter Dowswell, on behalf of the GSG, presented Christine with a
colourful early morning photograph of Suilven.
Christine plans to move back to Edinburgh to stay near her daughter
and grandchildren. While she plans her future she has a summer job as a
cook at one of the Duke of Westminster's lodges near Achfary where
Raymond and Janet Hoy live and work.
- The Alt has been Sold
The new owners of the Alt are Roddy and Vicky Watt. Members will know
Roddy as a long term Alt customer who is now a fully fledged keeper.
After spells in Norway and Lewis he is working around Ben Hope. Vicky is
also known to us. She worked for a time in the Alt a few years ago. They
reopened the Alt on the 3rd July. We'll let you know of their plans in
A recent report in The Scotsman highlighted an unfortunate and
unanticipated consequence of the Scottish anti-smoking legislation. Now
that the atmosphere in pubs is so much clearer, midges are invading the
bars! One hotel in Portree is about to buy a midge machine to attract
and kill the bloodthirsty insects and several other hotels and bars have
reported good results from their investment in similar machines. We did
look at buying one for the hut, but it appears that to be effective they
need to be used almost continuously and would have minimal effect around
our BBQ area if only switched on the previous evening.
A new website midgeforecast
is designed to give users a
daily forecast on how badly you'll get bitten in various parts of
Scotland. By selecting an area on the interactive map the midge menace
at several locations in that region is graded from 1 (low) to 4 (high)
to 5 (nuisance level). You can also choose one of the locations for a
five day forecast. When I checked just now Ullapool was 4, 3, 3, 4, 4
over the next five days. You can also get a daily forecast by texting
MIDGE to 84070.