Redcliffe Caves ‘Open Doors’ weekend (13-15 Sept 2019)

A little while ago the club was approached by the organisers of the (Bristol) Redcliffe Caves open day weekend, as part of the wider Bristol Open Doors weekend. The organisers were after cavers who could help out with running the event and a number of club members volunteered to take part …. Joe Duxbury, Malc White, Alex Moule, Tom Stickland, Jamie Morris and Jon Maisey. Prior to the w/e an number of prelim/recce visits were carried out by the volunteers and a suitable route was mapped out through the caves. On the friday the volunteers set up all of the tapes/barriers/arrows etc required for the public along the route …. not a 5 minute job! Later on the friday evening the local BBC film crew from ‘Points West’ were there to film a short item about the caves for the w/e.

The following Saturday & Sundays went very well, there were approx 800 visitors per day and everyone got a great deal out of the w/e. Talking to the public to explain the history of the caves (and nearby other underground sites) went down very well and we got a lot of good feedback, including info of other underground links to the cave etc.

Joe had also put together and brought with him the club stand in order to promote the club, raise its profile and hopefully get a few more members (time will tell).

Everyone had an excellent w/e & we’ll definaley be back in 2020 …. more volunteers required!

See the photos for a rough overview of the w/e.

Redcliffe Caves entrance
Queueing to get in!
BBC Points West filming on the friday evening
The club stand …. as you can see … the public were fighting over themselves to get to it!
A little local history
The team on the Sunday once everyone had finished.

Credit: The Redcliffe Caves organisers

Credit: Philippe Roux

Credit: Philippe Roux
The local pub & which has a connection through to the caves behind.

Social Walk on Cleeve Hill 16th May 2019

Team : Jon Maisey (walk leader), Jann Padley, Alex Moule, Kev Stevens, Chloe Hitchings, Gareth Farrow & Jennie Lawrence (Photographer).

Cleeve Hill (also known as Cleeve Cloud) is the highest point both of the Cotswolds hill range and in the county of Gloucestershire, at 1,083 feet (330m). It is located on Cleeve Common a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) looked after by a small charity called Cleeve Common Trust. It has a clear view to the west, over Cheltenham and the racecourse, over the River Severn and into Wales; and to the north over Winchcombe. It is an outcrop on the edge of the limestone escarpment & crossed by the Cotswold Way footpath. It has Castle Rock, one of the few rock faces in the area used by climbers. The routes are short, difficult for their grade and highly polished.

It was a fabulous warm sunny evening a little cooler on reaching the top where we met Chloe & Gareth, getting ready to do some climbing on Castle Rock. After walking the ridge we dropped down & explored the rock faces, finding cracks in the rock and small caves. Not sure if we found the largest, Issac’s cave, we think it was at the far edge but decided to keep it fo another day as the sun was setting & we needed to set up the BBQ. Gareth gave us an entertaining demo on how to balance on a skateboard & I’d forgotten about the ‘bring food for the BBQ’ but there was plenty to go round, even beer!

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GSS on front cover of a magazine

Some GSS members (Jon Maisey in particular has been a member of the group since the 1980s) have a long association with a group called ‘Subterranea Britannica’. Sub Brit (as they’re known) are interested in any underground spaces that are either man-made (tunnels, mines, bunkers etc) or have been used by man (ie caves turned into dwellings or hiding places etc).

In September 2015, Jon Maisey, with help from Trev Perkins, Phil Howells and Maurice Febry, organised a Sub Brit weekend (based in Cirencester) which took them around a number of Cotswold sites (Whittington, Windrush, Lower Balls Green and QuarryHill). the w/e was judged to be a great success and earned the GSS a donation of £200.

Anyway, some while ago, Jon set up a newsletter exchange between Sub Brit and GSS. They get our newsletters/journals and we get their ‘Bulletins’. The Sub Brit bulletins are really very professionally put together and well worth a read …. speak to the librarian, John Cliffe for the library copies.

As part of the exchange, Sub Brit sometimes refers to articles in the GSS newsletters and one of these was an article I wrote in regard to GSS exploration of Sapperton Canal tunnel. I was then asked if I could write an article for the Sub Brit magazine. This I then did but only after many hours spent at the pc researching facts, typing and sorting out photos etc. The end result for this was that ‘Bulletin 41’ published the Sapperton article (and an account of the Sub Brit Cotswold w/e in 2015) and had as its front cover photograph a picture of the tunnel with Rob Tyrrell as the model! (see the attached scan)

Bulletin 41 (Sapperton Tunnel)

The article published in the Bulletin has now been given to Malc and will be published also in a forthcoming GSS newsletter.


GCRG Exercise – Miss Grace’s Lane (5 June 2016)

On a hot summer day in the Forest of Dean, the GloucesterShire Cave Rescue Group (GCRG) held one of its 3-monthly training sessions and today it was to be held at ‘Miss Grace’s Lane’ cave, down towards Lydney.

Briefly, the idea was to attend to a casualty (with broken bones etc) at the bottom of the final pitch and to take them out of the cave quickly and safely.

The first team (first aiders) went in to attend to the casualty and establish the situation before then further teams went it to do the following:

1 – establish the Cave Link comms to the surface

2 – get the casualty into the stretcher, ready for moving

3 – move the casualty to the start of the pitches and prepare for hauling out.

3 – while all this is happening, the surface team was setting up the surface hauling kit, including a new piece of kit, the Larkin Frame. This is specifically designed to help haul up casualties from shafts/over cliff edges etc.

Overall, the practice went quite smoothly and the casualty was out after a number of hours (out by about 15:00’ish I think) but there were (as ever) things that GCRG could learn from the experience (this is the point of a practice), minor niggles etc.

Although GSS attendance was pretty good (15 or 16 club members), it was less so from the RFDCC & there were times we could have done with more people underground.

A few photos from the day

GCRG Ex (MGL) [5 June 2016]

GCRG Ex (MGL) [5 June 2016]

GCRG Ex (MGL) [5 June 2016]

GCRG Ex (MGL) [5 June 2016]

GCRG Ex (MGL) [5 June 2016]

GCRG Ex (MGL) [5 June 2016]

GCRG Ex (MGL) [5 June 2016]

GCRG Ex (MGL) [5 June 2016]

Cleaning & sorting the kit after the exercise, at the GCRG depot

Cleaning & sorting the kit after the exercise, at the GCRG depot

GCRG is the only organisation in the county that is able to come to the aid of cavers underground & is made up 100% of volunteers who do this on top of their normal caving activities. GCRG always needs more volunteers to help out and so if you’re not a member but would like to learn a lot of caving-related skills & help put something back into the local caving scene, then please contact Paul Taylor or Pete Turier (or me, Jon Maisey).

The next GCRG training event is on the 4th of September.