Himalayas by bus by John Conway

In August 1970 eleven North West cavers set off for the Himalayas in a double decker bus nicknamed “Arni” on an expedition that has become legendary in British caving history – The British Speleological Expedition to the Himalayas 1970.

Forty five years later in 2015 John Conway, one of the original team, has decided to publish the tale of the their exploits on Facebook as a daily diary, using his original diary entries, and John has very kindly given us permission to reproduce his story here.

Although this isn’t an Earby tale it’s one we feel needs recording for posterity, so we’re very please to be able to reproduce it below.

When you open a post it should open in a new tab so once you’ve read it you can simply close the tab to return to this page. You can also use the Previous Post/Next Post links at the bottom of each page or start at the beginning!

Please also follow John’s journey on his Facebook page, at https://www.facebook.com/AccyJohn?fref=ts

John Conway. Himalayas by bus. Days 1 and 2. Sunday 2nd and Monday 3rd August 1970 – England

England Sunday 2 Aug 1970 myself & ten North West cavers set off to the Himalayas on a Preston Corporation ...
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Day 3. Tuesday 4th August 1970 – England

Went into London & bank to do some creative accounting for our Afghanistan visas which we hope to get tomorrow!! ...
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Day 4. Wednesday 5th August 1970 – England

England Again London was visited but this time we borrowed Eileen’s father’s wagon. This was our third trip to the ...
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John Conway. Himalayas by bus. The background.

The name of the guy who trigger all this off for us was James Lovelock whom we met in Norway ...
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Day 5. Thursday 6th August 1970 – England

England Nobody went into London today, which made a change and also saved quite a lot of money. In the ...
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Day 6. Friday 7th August 1970 – England

England Rod, Keith, Jim and Mick acquired their visas for Afghanistan. The rest of the day was spent rather quietly ...
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Day 7. Saturday 8th August 1970 – England

England Another quiet day did some delivering for Eileen’s farther in the afternoon. A couple of the lads went into ...
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Day 8. Sunday 9th August 1970 – England

England Late rising in the morning, dinner at Eileen’s after which everyone apart from Rod and me went to the ...
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Day 9. Monday 10th August 1970 – England

England Everyone apart from Jim and Keith had to go into London. Mick had to go to the Iranian Embassy, ...
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Day 10. Tuesday 11th August 1970 – France and Belgium

France and Belgium The original boat we were supposed to have caught was still out of service so we were ...
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Day 11. Wednesday 12th August 1970 – Belgium

Belgium We went into Ghent to meet members of the staff of Du-Pont and also to pick up their Dacron ...
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Day 12. Thursday 13th August 1970 – Germany

Germany Spent most of the day was working on the bus which, we parked on the German side of the ...
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Day 13. Friday 14th August 1970 – Germany

Germany We got the OK from the German Border Guards and we set off at about 10 o’clock in the ...
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Day 14. Saturday 15th August 1970 – Germany

Germany Because of the blowout yesterday we decided to travel early in the morning. We set off at five in ...
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Day 15. Sunday 16th August 1970 – Germany and Austria

Germany and Austria We had another early start again this morning. We drove without any trouble to Golling arriving about ...
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Day 16. Monday 17th August 1970 – Austria, Italy and Yugoslavia

Five o’clock start with Jim driving for the first part of the ascent of the Alps. The Radstadt Pass was ...
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Day 17. Tuesday 18th August 1970 – Yugoslavia

Left Jesenice at five in the morning and motored quietly on to Ljubljana. Just before we entered Zagreb we had ...
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Day 18. Wednesday 19th August 1970 – Yugoslavia

Early start, motoring for about four hours then stopped for breakfast. During the heat of the day we made three ...
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Day 19. Thursday 20th August 1970 – Yugoslavia

Our early start was put back somewhat when we found that some lads from England, who were camped out in ...
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Day 20. Friday 21st August 1970 – Bulgaria

Early start, we reached the border post about 06:00hrs we left about 08:00hrs. Transit though Yugoslavia cost 97 Diners. The ...
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Day 21. Saturday 22nd August 1970 – Bulgaria to Turkey

Early start, we reached the border post and passed through without too much difficulty. There was however a tremendous amount ...
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Day 22. Sunday 23rd August 1970 – Turkey

A quiet day was spent in the bus as there was nothing we could do until Monday when the banks ...
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Day 23. Monday 24th August 1970 -Turkey

Jim and Johnny woke early to go into Istanbul to sort out Johnnies problems and also for a look around ...
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Day 24. Tuesday 25th August 1970 – Turkey

Early start left our camping spot, after filling all the water container, about 06:00hrs. Reached Istanbul two hours later and ...
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Day 25. Wednesday 26th August 1970 – Turkey

We had a five-o-clock start with Jim driving all the way into Ankara. We got lost for a short time ...
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Day 26. Thursday 27th August 1970 – Turkey

Another early start, Ian drove into Sivas where we got some money exchanged and bought some bread. The next stage ...
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Day 27. Friday 28th August 1970 – Turkey

Five o’clock start with Ian driving most of the way through and over the Sakaltutan Gecidi Pass 6890ft high. Jim ...
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Day 28. Saturday 29th August 1970 – Turkey to Iran

Five-o-clock start with Ian driving. The Tahir Gecidi Pass 8211ft was not as bad as we had anticipated. We stopped ...
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Day 29. Sunday 30th August 1970 – Iran

Another early start this morning the first in Iran. Ian drove for about three and a half hours after which ...
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Day 30. Monday 31st August 1970 – Iran

We had an early start with Rod driving as usual, stopped about 11:00hrs for breakfast. Johnny and Colin after a ...
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Day 31. Tuesday 1st September 1970 – Iran

A classic start to the day was made by Dave who, on his own initiative, set the bus on fire ...
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Day 32. Wednesday 2nd September 1970 – Iran

As we were parked up/camped on the road which leads to the norther route out of Tehran, we decided to ...
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Day 33. Thursday 3rd September 1970 – Iran

We spent a very quiet and restful day apart from a brief trip into Tehran to pick up photographs and ...
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Day 34. Friday 4th September 1970 – Iran

We were awoken by many cars heading out of Tehran for the coast. (The Caspian Sea just to the north) ...
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Day 35. Saturday 5th September 1970 – Iran

Today was a far quieter day than yesterday with most of it being spent between the bus and the river ...
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Day 36. Sunday 6th September 1970 – Iran

We had an early start this morning because we had to be at the Pakistan Embassy by 11 o'clock. However, ...
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Day 37. Monday 7th September 1970 – Iran

We were on the road again at about 5 o'clock, Ian driving. The first part of the morning was spent ...
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Day 38. Tuesday 8th September 1970 – Iran

Today was the start of what was supposed to be the worse section of road. The first part took us ...
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Day 39. Wednesday 9th September 1970 – Iran

This we hoped would be the last day of the bad roads. Jim drove until breakfast were upon we found ...
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Day 40. Thursday 10th September 1970 – Iran

We drove into Mashed early in the morning and purchased a second-hand tyre for about £6. Rod was taken to ...
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Day 41. Friday 11th September 1970 – Afghanistan

We managed to finish the rest of our visa, police and insurance matters. One thing we did to speed our ...
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Day 42. Saturday 12th September 1970 – Afghanistan

We drove for about 60 miles down the road until we found a filling station, where we changed the front ...
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Day 43. Sunday 13th September 1970 – Afghanistan

Purchased a tyre in Kandahar for about £30 which Rod thought was reasonable. Again we decided to take things very ...
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Day 44. Monday 14th September 1970 – Afghanistan

Just short of Kabul Ian took over the driving from Rod at about 6 o’clock and me and Rod turned ...
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Day 45. Tuesday 15th September 1970 – Pakistan

We passed through the customs without too much trouble and entered the Khyber Pass. Although the pass is of historical ...
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Day 46. Wednesday 16th September 1970 – Pakistan

We had a reasonably early start, inflating the tyres before we left. We motored steadily all day, again stopping for ...
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Day 47. Thursday 17th September 1970 – India

We reached the border post early enough to be one of the first through. We had no trouble with either ...
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Day 48. Friday 18th September 1970 – India

Set off for the hills about six o’clock in the morning and after about one hours driving we started to ...
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Day 49. Saturday 19th September 1970 – India

About 9 o’clock this morning after breakfast Ian, Keith and I made our official visit to the local magistrate. He ...
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Day 50. Sunday 20th September 1970 – India

This morning we managed to drive the bus from where we’d parked up to the base camp without too much ...
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Day 51. Monday 21st September 1970 – India

We spent another day around the camp making improvements and such. Again in the evening we played football and again ...
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Day 52. Tuesday 22nd September 1970 – India

Trevor, Hodge and I along with the liaison officer visited a known cave called Dunga Dora. At first we had ...
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Day 53. Wednesday 23rd September 1970 – India

Awake this morning to cries of “we’ve got that bloody snake” and sure enough there was one small but lively ...
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Day 54. Thursday 24th September 1970 – India

In the very early part of the morning there was a very heavy thunderstorm which kept everyone in their tents, ...
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Day 55. Friday 25th September 1970 – India

At least the weather was good enough to make an attempt at finding a few caves. Rod and I stopped ...
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Day 56. Saturday 26th September 1970 – India

Jim and Hodge gave us half an hour start before we set off up the hill to spot the holes ...
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Day 57. Sunday 27th September 1970 – India

I set off about ten o’clock in the morning with Trevor to trace the stream which runs through the camp ...
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Day 58. Monday 28th September 1970 – India

Trevor and I awoke early so that we could catch the eight o’clock morning bus to Shala-Ghat. The walk along ...
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Day 59. Tuesday 29th September 1970 – India

I slept in because I’d no intention of going out of camp, as it turned out neither had anyone else ...
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Day 60. Wednesday 30th September 1970 – India

Jim, Keith and I caught the eight o’clock bus out of Arki for Simla. On arriving in Simla we immediately ...
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Day 61. Thursday 1st October 1970 – India

Rod, Mick and Jim left early in the morning to go to Bilaspur. Johnny, Dave, Trevor and I managed a ...
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Day 62. Friday 2nd October 1970 – India

The early start to the day was upset somewhat when the bus from Arki to Shala-Ghat broke down and was ...
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Day 63. Saturday 3rd October 1970 – India

Ian, Colin and Keith left early in the morning for Solon the rest of us, a little later, cleared up ...
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Day 64. Sunday 4th October 1970 – India

Left Arki on the 8:30 bus to Shala-Ghat, but unfortunately we did not manage to catch a bus to Darla ...
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Day 65. Monday 5th October 1970 – India

We left Arki on the 11:30 bus to Darla. The object of this trip was to photograph the cave above ...
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Day 66. Tuesday 6th October 1970 – India

Mick and I awoke around eight, packed everything up and set off for a cup of tea in Darla. After ...
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Day 67. Wednesday 7th October 1970 – India

After a brew, there was only enough water left for this one brew, we set off up the hill and ...
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Day 68. Thursday 8th October 1970 – India

We left the Farmers place early in the morning, after taking tea with him. Half an hour later we stopped ...
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Days 69,70 and 71. Friday 9th to Sunday 11th October 1970 – India

Friday 9th October 1970 (Day 69) I stayed in bed a little longer than usual because I was buggered after ...
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Day 72. Monday 12th October 1970 – India

I caught the 11 to 12 o’clock bus to ‘Darla Moli’ with Mick and Trevor. Jim, Hodge and Het-Ram got ...
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Day 73. Tuesday 13th October 1970 – India

We left the col, after spending an hour or so eating breakfast and drying out our sleeping bags, and traversed ...
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Day 74. Wednesday 14th October 1970 – India

Spent most of the day tidying up the bus and camp after it had become something of a tip. Rod, ...
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Day 75. Thursday 15th October 1970 – India

Most of the late morning and afternoon was spent writing letters and bringing my log up to date. In the ...
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Day 76. Friday 16th October 1970 – India

At 10:30 in the morning I went to see Het-Ram about his proposed visit to Kulu. We went together to ...
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Day 77. Saturday 17th October 1970 – India

Dave, Trevor, Hodge and Johnny left early this morning for Kulu. If Het-Ram was able to go then we intended ...
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Day 78. Sunday 18th October 1970 – India

Jim, Ian, Keith and Het-Ram left on the 8 o’clock morning bus from Arki to Simla. Mick and Colin left ...
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Day 79. Monday 19th October 1970 – India

A quiet day was spent in camp with nothing out of the ordinary happening, and with the usual daily base ...
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Day 80. Tuesday 20th October 1970 – India

Ian and Keith were supposed to go into Simla this morning but returned back to camp about eleven o’clock because ...
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Day 81. Wednesday 21st October 1970 – India

When Mick and I got up this morning Jim, Ian and Keith had already left for Simla. After the usual ...
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