Tag Archives: Himalayas by bus

Day 9. Monday 10th August 1970 – England


Everyone apart from Jim and Keith had to go into London. Mick had to go to the Iranian Embassy, everyone else the Afghanistan Embassy. All the necessary visas were obtained. Rod, Mick, Colin, Johnny and me later went around to the RAC and acquired international driving licences.

This was to be the last night we would sleep on English soil for 137 days, longer for Mick as he was thinking of carrying on from India up to the base camp of Everest. So tomorrow we will set off with a route description from the RAC to Simla in the Himachal Pradesh Provence of India, a school Atlas, an Indian Tourist Map and the tracings we made at the Royal Geographical Society.

Just as an aside, Dr Tony Waltham was also setting off with a team to go caving in India, their mode of transport was an old Fire Brigade Tender, but we wouldn’t hear from them until early in 1971.

Below a letter from the Royal Geographical Society and a copy of part of the Indian Tourist Map showing the Himachal Pradesh Provence of India, plus one last look at the Team.


Northern Region



Day 8. Sunday 9th August 1970 – England


Late rising in the morning, dinner at Eileen’s after which everyone apart from Rod and me went to the Museum at Greenwich. Eileen’s father came back in the afternoon and invited us back for tea, a very easy but pleasant day. Received one 28lb bag of cooking rice and a 28lb bag of flour.

Everything seems to be in limbo at the moment, the grapevine back home says some of our mates have set up a book on how far we will get?

Below copies of letters from Sir Vivian Fuchs of the British Arctic Survey who was extremely helpful and very encouraging when we went down to London to meet him.














Day 7. Saturday 8th August 1970 – England


Another quiet day did some delivering for Eileen’s farther in the afternoon. A couple of the lads went into London to get their international driving licence from the RAC.

Went out for the last hour to the “Crook Log” a pub just down the road from where we were parked.

Colin and Johnny purchased some food from a cash and carry warehouse, 50lbs of porridge, 28lbs of dry peas and 72lbs of beans.

In addition to this we already had donated:-

6 dozen mini Jams & Marmalades by Robertson & Sons
42lbs Dried Milk by Unigate Ltd
390lbs of Sugar & 112lbs of Golden Syrup by Tate & Lyle
72 packs of Weetabix By Weetabix Ltd
10lbs of Tea & 6 gross of OXO cubes By Brooke Bond & OXO Ltd
4 dozen assorted Jars of Spreads & 2 dozen Tins of Pie Filling by Shippams
I case of Beef Broth & 1 case of Baked Beans & Pork Sausages by H. J. Heinz
24 x 12oz packets of Seedless Raisins by Whitworth Holdings
20 x 12oz Tins of Spam & 50 Tins of Sardines by Littlewoods Ltd
2 cases of Tea by Liptons
288 Mars Bars & 576 Packets of Spangles by Mars Ltd

We also purchased
6 x cases (24 x 15oz tins) of Stewing Stake
4 x cases (24 x 15oz tins) of Minced Beef
8 x cases (24 x 7.5oz tins) of Black Puddings
10 x cases (24 x 7.5oz tins) Curries
Total cost thirty eight pounds & eight shillings

I’m sure we had more than this but the paper work has got lost over the years.

Day 6. Friday 7th August 1970 – England



Rod, Keith, Jim and Mick acquired their visas for Afghanistan. The rest of the day was spent rather quietly ending with a couple of pints late on in the evening.

Pre Expedition info:-

Prior to the expedition we visited the Royal Geographical Society to collect as much information as possible, maps at this time were more or less impossible to acquire and getting caught with a detailed map in some countries could get you arrested, so we spent many hours tracing maps. We also contacted other organizations for information and wrote many letter asking for food and other expedition supplies etc

Above my visa for Afghanistan and below a couple of the tracings we made at the RGS

Sketch 2

Sketch 1






Day 5. Thursday 6th August 1970 – England


Nobody went into London today, which made a change and also saved quite a lot of money.

In the evening we were invited to a dinner given in our honour by Eileen’s father. This proved to be a profitable delightful evening. One of the guests made a donation of £10 and another offered us some rice and flour to help supplement our food. A young journalist who seemed rather interested was also there, representing the local press.

For the Expedition we also had to be vaccinated for Smallpox and Cholera these were carried out by Dr John Frankland, who was also the Cave Rescue Doctor, and done over a couple of weekends in the Marton Arms Pub just outside Ingleton in the Yorkshire Dales. The Marton Arms was one of the main caving pubs in the Dales during the 60’s and 70’s and the main meeting point for the members of the Expedition.

Dr Frankland also provided the Expedition with a very comprehensive medical kit, more a small metal chest, which was later to save the life of one of the expedition members.



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 and took caving. He was the author of Life and Death Under-Ground. Below is a pic of him with taking photos with some of our lads on a caving trip. In those days taking underground pics was a bit long winded. James mention to use that while on an climbing expedition to the Himalayas he had seen cave entrances at very high altitudes and the teams exploits of traveling over land sounded exciting. BTW, I did have this book but I lost it but I’ve now managed to buy it on Amazon for £8.49

Life and death



Day 4. Wednesday 5th August 1970 – England


Again London was visited but this time we borrowed Eileen’s father’s wagon. This was our third trip to the Afghanistan Embassy and to everyone’s surprise we managed to acquire visas, unfortunately some of us have to pick these up on Friday and others on Monday. This meant that we had to change our leaving from Monday to Tuesday; fortunately we managed to do this. After tea Johnny accounted for a lost £100 we thought we had in the expedition funds and a rather perplexed evening was spent sorting out our finances in a way that would still leave us with £100 apices when we reached the Afghan boarder.
BTW our little adventure did have an official name:-
The British Speleological Expedition to the Himalayas 1970
Patrons; Brigadier E. A. Glennie D.S.O., R.E & Sir Vivian Fuchs

The original idea for the expedition was conceived during the three month Northern Explorations Groups trip to Artic Norway in 1968.
Below is a newspaper picture of seven of the members, Rod Plant is not on this pic but was a member. Three of those in the pic also went on the Himalayan Expedition, namely Dave Butterworth, My self and Keith Summerfield far right of the back row who’s name for whatever reason was not mentioned.

Also on the Norway expedition, but not on the news paper pic, was Geff Dean and Trevor Dearden, Trevor was also on the Himalayan Expedition.

Norway article

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


Sunday 2 Aug 1970 myself & ten North West cavers set off to the Himalayas on a Preston Corporation Double Decker Bus.

Monday 3 Aug 1970 first days stop in London to enquire about visa’s for Iran, we were told we needed £100 of travellers cheques per applicant!


Back row left to right – Keith Summerfield; Rod Plant; Ian Carruthers (Eccles); Dave Hodgson (Hodg); Michael Farnworth; Colin Hall; Johnny Wilkinson & Dave Butterworth.

Bottom row left to right John Conway; Jim Newton & Trever Dearden.