• Out now!!

    'Descent issue 291 is published on 1 April, so subscribers' copies will be posted out next week. Please note: we are currently away on a caving trip, so our online shop will be closed until 20 April. While we are away, individual copies can still be bought from Inglesport and Starless River.'.

    New Descent board here:

Leslie Pill


Active member
I hope this is useful .
I have fond memories of Leslie.
These are recollections from about 40 years ago.
At the time I was working at an outdoor activities center in Castleton and a team of builders were doing some work there, a couple of the guys were keen to come and join me on a cave project, mentioning that his grandfather would take him caving when he was a youngster..
I had no idea who his grandad was untill I began to research the old British Speleological Association newsletters which describe the earliest explorations of the caves of what was then referred to as the "Peak Fault" the line of swallet caves between Sparrowpit and MamTor.
Leslie was one of the nucleus of explorers of his generation, the 1940's and the period extending into the decades at either side.
His grandson gave me his home telephone number and My friend Keith Bentham and I arranged to go and visit him.
We arrived in Bamford, a row of bungalows, he came out to meet us, saying he knew it was us as we looked like Cavers, the kindred spirit remained despite the years of passing.
Over the comming weeks and months we would share many tales, he and Les Salmon and a couple of other explorers whose names I can't readily recall would push the Castleton caves and retire to the Wanted Inn, where they would warm themselves by the fire and sing songs, caving songs which Leslie would write himself, these were an oral recounting of their daring escapades.
Leslie said he was the academic one, he took the photographs, he was also the only one with a beard which he said was very unusual / distinguishable for that period.
His photos were excellent with excellent tone.
I was surprised to learn that Gautries Hole was only entered after sustained digging, and even in those days they had access to explosives which they used on their projects.
If anyone has the opportunity to look at the old BSA records and read the descriptions and maps of the individual caves, the attention to detail by Leslie and his exploration buddies was exceptional
Leslie retained some of his caving papers but the large bulk of it he had given to PB Smith of the TSG....


Active member
Somewhere I have one of the songs Leslie wrote, a real tale of adventure, it will take some finding as I've moved house several times since, but when I do I will post it here


Well-known member
Thanks, richardg. That is very useful. I reckon that the papers he gave P.B.Smith are probably those that finished up with the BCRA library. They now reside with the British Geological Survey. Alan Jeffries and John Manchip have digitised them using BGS equipment - an absolute labour of Hercules, and the images are now in the BCRA Online Archive waiting for the BCRA and BGS to come to an agreement so they can be perused by all.

Similarly, the BSA records you mention are also waiting in the wings. I'll have a look at the Derbyshire records for that period, to see if there is anything useful there.


Well-known member
I was surprised to learn that Gautries Hole was only entered after sustained digging, and even in those days they had access to explosives which they used on their projects.
Bang could be bought in hardware stores until surprisingly recently.