Happywanderers Cave and Pothole Club

How the “Happy Wanderers” came into being

Five lads were exploring around Castleton in Derbyshire. We bumped into each other once or twice and formed a lasting friendship. We visited Peak Cavern, Winnats Pass, Giants Hole and Peveril Castle. There was Malcolm (Tiger) Culshaw from Southport, Pete Matley from Salford, Frank Shuttleworth (Bazz of Bolton) and Philip Wallace from Bolton and myself from Barrow. It was summer 1955. We decided to meet up again the following Easter at Ingleton.
Mike Myers

It was summer 1955. We decided to meet up again the following Easter at Ingleton. So in 1956, after exploring a few caves around Ingleton and Clapham, we decided to form ourselves into a proper group. It was August-September 1956 we held a meeting in the Wheatsheaf Hotel, Ingleton.

Diving the Terminal Sumps in the Gouffre Berger

Click the Arrow to play the Video
English Translation of Diver's comments

1. Le film complet des siphons et réseaux post siphon du gouffre Berger un grand merci a tous ceux qui nous ont aidé surtout a Dany, Fabien, Bab et Isadora:
2. Le Camp des etrangers a-1000m 0.23
3. Depart du Syphon 1 70M - 11M 0.42
4. Une des Bouteilles de Ken Pearce 1.45
5. Le deuxieme siphon 20M-3M 02.13
6. le passage des voutes basses 3.03
7. Terminus de 2011 4.22
8. Profondeur -12m 4.28
9. Profondeur -40M 5.21
10. Jonction avec la galerie des precedents explorateurs dans la zone des 42M de profondeur 6.18
11. Profondeur -50m 6.51
12. Au passage du retrecissement la camera huerte la plafond 6.58
13. Manu au depart pour L'exploration de la galerie Aval 7.04
14. a L'issue 90m de decouverte 7.09

1. The complete film of siphons and post siphon networks of the Berger abyss a big thank you to all those who helped us especially to Dany, Fabien, Bab and Isadora:
2. Foreigners Camp
3. Departure from Syphon 1 70M - 11M 0.42
4. One of the Bottles of Ken Pearce 1.45
5. The second siphon 20M-3M 02.13
6. The passage of low vaults 3.03
7. Terminus 2011 4.22
8. Depth -12m 4.28
9. Depth -40M 5.21
10. Junction with the gallery of previous explorers in the 42M deep zone 6.18
11. Depth -50m 6.51
12. On the passage you retreated the camera hung on the ceiling 6.58
13. Manu at the start for Exploration of the Aval gallery 7.04
14. at the 90m discovery end 7.09

Bob Gillibrand's account of diving in the Gouffre Berger 1963

Browsing on YouTube recently I came across the video embedded above. ”gouffre berger 2014 V5 congre's" N.B. lowercase title.

The video starts more or less at the first sump (Syphon). The diver finds in the sump a "Tadpole" cylinder from the 1963 British Expedition. As he moves the cylinder you can make out rusting piano wire binding before the disturbed silt obscures the view. This brought back many memories from the 1963 expedition.

After Ken Pearce’s successful passing of the first sump we emptied and left on the sump entrance "beach" four of these cylinders; two used by Ken and two used by Steve Wynne-Roberts who was the standby diver.

The cylinders were ex-WD Second World War equipment and were used on high level bombing raids. The piano wire binding was to protect them in case of a direct flack hit. They had been obtained by Steve who fitted them with a standard pillar valve.

Jed Scott a member of the expedition had facilities at his work for filling the bottles with air. He was instructed by Ken to fill them to 3000psi (206.8427Bar). The normal Safe Working Pressure for these cylinders was 1800psi (124.105Bar).

Jed cannot remember for sure but when he received the cylinders from Ken they could have contained a percentage of pure oxygen. In those days mixture diving was in its infancy mainly pioneered by military and North Sea oil. Steve was very clued up on this and it was definitely in use by CDG in Wookey Hole a few months later.

Basically the diver was breathing oxygen enriched air and as a result absorbed less Nitrogen; this would lead to longer duration of the dive at depth if required. Ken Pearce who was a certified First Class Diver of the BSAC would have been well aware of the dangers of using oxygen enriched air below a maximum operating depth. At the time all that was known of the sump was that the water resurged at Sassenage Cave 2631ft or 802 metres below.

All this came to light when for the first time the whole team met up at Bob Wright’s house in Manchester to pack and load for the expedition. This was the weekend before we left for France the following Friday Night. Steve arrived from Somerset on Saturday the final member of the team; Mike Boon was the only member of the team who knew Steve prior to this meeting. As the day progressed Alan Clegg and I who had both just started diving expressed anxiety about the 3000psi.

Steve assured us that the same type of cylinder (Tadpole) had been used on the first successful Everest Expedition in 1953 at this pressure. He also said that while Everest training was taking place in Snowdonia, a cylinder had been thrown off Grib Goch about a 300ft drop, and as it did not explode was deemed fit for the job!
Despite these assurances everybody had a healthy respect for these and they were always referred to as "The Bombs"

I had purpose made containers for the cylinders from 14swg aluminium and they were packed in using the diving wet suits as padding. The containers had two substantial brass lugs riveted onto the top and a sling with two crabs made for easy handling and lowering (With great care).

They were unpacked in the dry oxbow just below Hurricane shaft and the lids made useful pans and cups for a brew made from a pack of Horlicks emergency rations, for a non drinker Ken really whaled into the Rum fudge flavoured drink we made.

I have noted that a photo of Ken and Steve at the sump is in several other YouTube videos and attributed both to the1964 and 1967 expeditions. This is incorrect, the photo was definitely taken on the 1963 expedition I was there; also the photo was taken by Allan Clegg not as others have claimed.

Wow, it is amazing what we have in our heads, had not thought of all this for 50 plus years, I hope it is of interest to anybody who reads this.
Bob Gillibrand March 2020

Photos Gouffre Berger Expedition 1963 by Alan Clegg © Stu Whitmey Collection
The 1963 expedition numbered 13 members: Bobby Toogood and Steve Wynne-Roberts are missing from the Team photo

Steve Wynne-Roberts and Ken Pearce at the Terminal Sump 1963 Expedition
Berger 1963

The 1963 Team pose in Sassenage Quarry after just arriving in the area. Ken Pearce second from left standing. Bob Gillibrand on his left
Berger 1963