/ Arthur Gemmell

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keith-ratcliffe on 03 Aug 2017

We are planning a short break to Yorkshire in November so I dug out some of my old material about the area including a set of maps produced by Arthur Gemmell. They are called stile maps and remind me a little of Wainwright's sketches for his books. Of course they are now all out of print but I was interested in the author. Google was not useful so I thought I would ask on here - What does anyone know about Arthur Gemmel please?
Post edited at 16:11
Chris the Tall - on 03 Aug 2017
In reply to keith-ratcliffe:

I think I know the maps you mean and think they are still available in places like Hawes and Aysgarth. Brilliant maps, until they got wet, as they seemed to be made from some super absorbent paper

Or maybe it was just that I attempted the 3 peaks in foul weather, as I remember trying to reassemble sodden bits of paper on the bonnet of a car at the Hill Inn, when the driver appeared !
keith-ratcliffe on 03 Aug 2017
In reply to Chris the Tall:
My 3 Peaks map has the route highlighted in yellow and some of my notes on it - thankfully we had a dry day so it survived.
Malcolm Bass - on 04 Aug 2017
In reply to keith-ratcliffe:
Arthur Gemmel, and I think it was the same one, was one of the key cave and pothole explorers in the post war period in the Yorkshire Dales. He was involved in the exploration of places like Disappointment Pot (a difficult way down into the Gaping Gill-Inglebrough Cave system), Simpsons Pot ( which later led into the Kingsdale Master Cave) and Lancaster Hole ( an entrance to the vast Easegill system). Along with Jack Myers he wrote Undeground Adventure in 1952, a classic of the rather scant caving literature. This book inspired Adventures Underground by Dave Haigh and John Cordingley, which came out earlier this year and describes some of the key explorations in the Dales in the intervening 65 years.

keith-ratcliffe on 04 Aug 2017
In reply to Malcolm Bass:
Thanks for that Malcolm - I am sure it is the same person - I had only looked for his maps. I have now ordered a copy of the caving book from Abebooks.
I dabbled in some caving alongside climbing in the 70's and the trip that was the high point was a Gaping Gill exchange using Disappointment Pot & Bar Pot. We got to go in via DP and out by BP and met the other half in GG Main Cavern. I didn't know about Arthur Gemmel's links to caving but the 3 caves you mention were all brilliant trips we did.
You are right about caving literature - I was amazed it was so thin compared to Mountaineering. I have Subterranean Climbers and borrowed The Darkness Beckons but that is all I can remember from that period. The recent book looks worth a read as well.
Thanks again Keith
keith-ratcliffe on 13 Aug 2017
In reply to Malcolm Bass:
I have found out more about Arthur Gemmell so I thought it worth sharing. I now have the new book that you mention and it has a lot about him including some pictures so thanks for that link (I note that you are in one of them and referred to in the text!).
I put out a couple of enquiries to caving clubs and one of them put me in contact with John Cordingley - co -author of the recent book. He told me some more about AG including that he was an architect which explains his mapping & surveying skills. I obtained a copy of the 1952 book which is really interesting but John also provided a copy of the Foreword he did for the 1990 reprint which added more to the picture. I think for now I have learned as much as I can about him so thanks for your contribution. It has also set off on a reading trail about Caving that I am enjoying - currently The Darkness Beckons.
nigel baker - on 13 Aug 2017
In reply to keith-ratcliffe:

There is now a new updated version of the Darkness Beckons by Martyn Farr.
Big and lots more colour....very impressive.
Vertebrate Publishing......nothing about Arthur Gemmell....as he never' put on any tanks on and went into those black watery sumps!!................he had more sense!!
ads.ukclimbing.com
keith-ratcliffe on 13 Aug 2017
In reply to nigel baker:
I have the 1991 version of the book and I am struck by the constant references to the character of the explorers. It is clear that those who came from caving were more aware of the risks than those who came from diving and acted accordingly. The 'Darkness' is not only in the caves - it comes through in the writing. I have passed a few sumps by free diving and the sense of doom that came over me when I realised I had to get back was definitely type 2 fun. Luckily I never experienced type 3.

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