Hallowe'en Rift, Mendip Hills

Excursions [and other notes] involved in the exploration of Hallowe'en Rift; a cave, so far, formed within Triassic Dolomitic Conglomerate.

The exploration of Hallowe'en Rift was started in 1982 by Trevor Hughes with other members of the Bristol Exploration Club, then during the early 1990's Vince Simmonds and other, mostly, local diggers were active at a number of locations within the cave, including the start of the present dig with Graham Johnson in December 1991. The current phase of exploration was commenced in 2009, with the majority of the early work being carried out by Vince Simmonds and Alex Gee, now the regular team includes Rob 'Tav' Taviner, Graham 'Jake' Johnson, Nick Hawkes, Matt Tuck, Jonathon Riley, Paul 'Brockers' Brock, Roz Simmonds, Duncan Price and Mike Moxon. There has been occasional help from others including Mike Willett, John 'Tangent' Williams, Pete Bolt, Bob Smith, Callum and Hazel Simmonds, with regular guest appearances by that well-known antipodean, Ray Deasy.

29th December 2018

digging 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Sun, December 30, 2018 09:06:46

With Jon and Brockers

Finally managed to hand-over goodwill bag to Mark, who was in the yard when we arrived at the farm.

Up the hill at Hallowe’en Rift, the loose bags were packed up and the packs stored underground. We decided to start the quest along the north-west passage, the enlargement began. Jon digging, assisted by Brockers, my task was to stack the filled bags in the entrance for removal later. Some very large slabs were removed and required a considerable effort to drag them back to the entrance where I could reduce them to more manageable pieces. Sediment removal wasn’t easy.

As usual the last act of the morning was to haul-out the filled bags, 21 of them and a couple of rocks, the rest of the rocks were left at the bottom of the entrance. The bags were not easy to empty, the sediment was claggy and placed into wet bags, then compressed while stashed in the entrance. Still, it was an enjoyable morning’s digging session and I had remembered the WD40 to give the lock some care and attention.

  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post481

22nd December 2018

digging 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Sun, December 23, 2018 08:42:40

With Jon, Brockers and Nick.

Nick turned-up with a large, heavy bar to try and deal with an obstruction underground. At Hallowe’en Rift, Nick went ahead to attempt to remove the obstructing slab of rock, although he required some assistance to get the bar down the entrance. Jon, Brockers and me had decided to clear-out the accumulation of rocks at the bottom of the entrance. The smaller ones were loaded into the skip, the large ones placed into a strop we had devised, specifically for rock removal, the rock-net had long ago been purloined by persons unknown. The strop was effective, and thirty-six loads of rock were hauled-out to the surface. Brockers argued that some of the larger boulders were worth four skips but this was discounted. When the rocks were cleared we made our way underground to assist Nick. The large bar didn’t have the desired effect and the obstruction remains, so we worked around it. Spoil removal proceeded at a rather sedate pace today, the digging is a bit constricted and awkward.

Discussions took place, in my opinion we should put digging along the south-west passage on the back-burner and switch the effort to follow the passage trending north-west (Trevor Hughes’ old dig), at least that is going in the desired direction.

At the end of the session twenty-five filled bags were hauled-out and emptied and a further eight skip-loads of rock. There are plenty of stones on the surface for wall building now.

  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post480

15th December 2018

digging 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Sun, December 16, 2018 07:47:36

With Jon, Duncan, Nick and Brockers

It was a wet and miserable morning with a cold south-easterly wind, not a good day to spend too long on the surface, everyone underground. Brockers digging with assistance from Duncan, Nick was at the mid-way haul position, I was sat at the junction, Jon stacking the spoil in the entrance.

In between bags, Nick, of course, began some surreptitious excavation, “clearing around a large stal boss” he said. I, too, bagged up some loose stones that were lying on the floor of the south-east passage. We were mindful not to use too many of the dry bags that had been stored below ground or someone (Jon) would have to retrieve some wet bags from the surface. Jon reported that the trickle down the entrance had become a small stream as the rain got heavier, I could hear the wind blowing from where I was.

Eventually though it was time to bite the bullet and some of us return to the surface to haul-out and empty the bags, 45 of them, the rocks were left to accumulate at the bottom of the entrance again. Nick and I did have a brief discussion regarding another wall extension being necessary, but that’s a job for another [drier] day. We were all rather damp as we made out way back down to the farm.

At the Hunter’s we met Ivan Sandford who had been clearing out his containers and he donated some long ropes to the cause, very useful.

  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post479

8th December 2018

digging 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Sun, December 09, 2018 13:51:11

With Jon, Brockers and Nick

Jon digging, Brockers assisting, I went to the mid-way hauling position because Nick had gone on a quest to explore the ‘north-west passage’. Bags and the occasional rock were temporarily stashed at the mid-way point until Nick returned from his exploration. Actually, he had gone up to look at Trever Hughes old dig back in the 80s. On his return the back-log was soon cleared and we settled down to an evenly paced session. In between skips Nick fettled the ‘boardwalk’ and started to tidy-up the south-east chamber where TH had dumped most of the spoil from his dig. Willie Stanton, back in the 80s, suggested this might have been an area where bones could be found.

Eventually it was time to move back clear-out the filled bags (36 of them) to the surface where they could be emptied. The rocks were left for another day, the stone supply for wall building is growing steadily.

  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post478

1st December 2018

digging 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Sun, December 02, 2018 09:12:05

With Nick, Brockers, Jonathon, Duncan and Alex

Alex, Brockers, Jonathon and Duncan disappeared underground to get the digging underway and started to fill bags and shift rocks. Nick remained on the surface for a short time to build some wall, I passed some rocks to Nick and generally tidied up.

Soon it was just me on the surface and I was thankful that the rain earlier this morning had passed over. The bags and rocks started to arrive at a steady rate and there wasn’t any spare time to add to the wall. The bags were all emptied, the sediment compacted into the space behind the wall that Nick had created earlier. It was warm work and I was kept busy.

At the very end of the digging session, Nick returned to the surface to help haul out the last few bags and rocks. A total of 82 loads out of the cave, 62 filled bags and 20 skip-loads of rocks. A large pile of rocks remains at the bottom of the entrance ready for shifting out next session, all good stuff for wall building.

I was thirsty and the refreshments at the Hunter’s were very welcome. Another productive session.

  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post477

27th November 2018

digging 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Wed, November 28, 2018 20:49:05


A gentler, more considered solo digging trip to retrieve some small mammal bones that Alex had noticed and pointed out on Saturday. The remains are relatively recent. The animal bones were recorded (photographed) in-situ before carefully lifting and placing in a sample bag. They will be washed and dried tomorrow before identification and recording.

Whilst digging noticed this ichneumon wasp, I think it’s Diphyus pallatorius, managed to get a few photos. Note the yellow banding on the antenna.
Not a long trip and didn’t bother to stop at the Hunter’s this evening.

  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post475

24th November 2018

digging 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Mon, November 26, 2018 07:08:04

With Alex, Jonathon, Duncan, Brockers and Nick

We continued the quest to the south-west. My turn to be up-front digging, Alex was next in line and did some extra widening of the passage, Jonathon, also moonlighting, in between skips, Duncan and Brockers sorted out the distribution of filled bags to the surface where Nick was on the end of the hauling rope – 85 loads up the entrance and emptied.

By the end of the session, the pinch point was just about big enough to wriggle through and get to where we had been digging in the early 90s. I could see the obstruction ahead that had frustrated us back in the day, I also retrieved some digging tools that had not seen any action for nearly 28 years, the chisel will be ok but the wooden handle of the lump-hammer was rotten.

Saturday evening was the Digging Thingy at the Hunter’s. I put up the Frost and Ice poster produced for the recent BCRA Cave Science Symposium in Bristol and gave a presentation on Hallowe’en Rift (pdf below). The cave came second, I didn’t enter HR, someone else must have.

  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post474

17th November 2018

digging 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Sun, November 18, 2018 07:50:59

With Brockers, Jonathon, Nick and Alex

While the empty bags were being removed from the drying line, I took the opportunity to go underground and have a quick look at progress so far. The enlargement of the south-west passage to hands and knees crawling rather than a flat-out wriggle is an improvement and means that removable of obstructions is easier. Haven’t reached the limit attained in the early 90s yet and looking at the size of passage immediately ahead, squeezes we easily passed back then, we must have been keen!

Nick joined me, and we swapped places. Nick started digging and filling bags, I hauled the skip back and transferred the load to another skip, Alex hauled that away, then Jon took over hauling the skip to the bottom of the entrance. The filled bags were hauled up to the surface by Brockers who then proceeded to empty the bags, 57 of them and a skip load of rocks. The empty bags re-bundled, ready to go back underground at the end of the session.

In between hauling the skip, Alex became distracted by an obstruction that wobbled the skip and occasionally caused it to tip over, spending a long time cursing it and hitting it with a lump hammer and chisel. Eventually, some progress was made, and Alex returned to hauling the skip, he seemed pleased with his achievement.

At the end of the session, I returned to the end to discuss with Nick the best way to remove an annoying obstruction, a calcited slab of conglomerate. The outcome of the discussion was to dig to the left-hand side of the calcited slab, possibly exposing more of it, enabling removal, or by-passing it all together. A metre or so ahead the passage is much roomier, progress will be easier.

Back at the shed, we shared the bubbly, my 501st trip.

  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post473

13th November 2018

digging 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Wed, November 14, 2018 06:26:25

With Roz

My 500th trip into Hallowe’en Rift.

The purpose of this trip was to try and capture some images of the low stuff approaching An Unexpected Development, to show it how it really is. The cave is still very dry. Got some good photos too.
On exiting the cave, Roz presented me with a bottle of bubbly, which was unexpected. At the Hunter’s I was surprised to see Alex there, then Jonathon turned up, apparently summoned by Roz. Then, Roger bought out a fruit cake that Roz had baked earlier to celebrate the 500th trip. Bloody marvellous!

  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post472

10th November 2018

digging 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Sun, November 11, 2018 08:08:31

With Brockers, Nick, Alex and Jonathon

Brockers experienced the “loneliness of a long-distance digger” far away from Nick, who was hauling the skip with filled bags, and digging a hole in the middle of the skip-run, why, something about trying to remove an obstructing lump of conglomerate and calcite. Maybe, a Gaia effect was anticipated whereby, a hole dug somewhere will result in the offending bulge disappearing, who knows. Alex was at the junction, also helping to haul the skip on its journey to be emptied at the entrance where, initially, Jonathon was positioned. I had headed east, along Merlin’s to the top of the slope where I retrieved the last of the tat left there, a 20-litre container and some tools. On the way back, I dismantled the remainder of the bridge over the pot, the iron ladder and boards would be useful in the current dig.

When I got back the entrance, Jonathon went up to the surface after swapping the worn-out skip for an undamaged one. I took over the hauling. The accrued back-log of bags at the entrance were hauled out to the surface and we settled down to a steady rate. In between hauling bags, Alex and I fettled the skip-run by positioning the ladder and boards retrieved earlier, making a wider, more effective skip-run over the drainage channel.

Jon’s initial enthusiasm for being on the surface in the sunshine was all too brief and was soon dampened as the rain came down.

It was another productive session, although I have no idea of the progress made, I suppose I will get a look soon.

  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post471

3rd November 2018

digging 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Mon, November 05, 2018 05:41:54

I was away digging on the Gower this weekend but the work at Hallowe’en Rift continued.

Jonathon, Nick and Alex

Report from our Toad Hall correspondent:

“Dear team,

I’m sad to report that the Badger let us all down by disappearing to Nottingham! The team members remaining: Mole digging, Ratty and Mr Toad hauling managed to fill 47 bags and transfer them to the surface.



  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post470

27th October 2018

digging 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Sun, October 28, 2018 07:04:52

With Alex, Jonathon, Brockers and Nick

While Alex went ahead to start digging, Jon and I rearranged the ‘boardwalk’ so that it bridged the ‘drainage channel’ and, therefore, making an improved skip haul route. Brockers, meanwhile, decided that he would ‘tidy-up’ at the bottom of the entrance shaft, there was an accumulation of fallen leaves and twigs and other detritus. Nick was on the surface, wall-building and hauling bags and rocks when required, bags were emptied too.

Alex was busy enlarging the passage south-west, but obviously not quick enough for Jon who decided to do some moonlighting and started to clear-out an alcove that had been stuffed with digging spoil in the past. I took a lump-hammer and started to batter a lump of calcited conglomerate that impeded the skip. There are a couple of corners that require some attention but, they will wait for another day.

As an aside, some ‘caving’ songs were being composed, mostly to the tune ‘So What’ by the Anti-Nowhere League, while the lyrics were funny (to us, anyway) they are probably, not printable.

As usual, time passed quickly, 99 loads were hauled-up to the surface and dealt with, refreshment was required. The cave secured, we made our way down to the farm, got changed, then up the road to the Hunter’s Lodge Inn.

  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post469

23rd October 2018

digging 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Wed, October 24, 2018 06:33:53

With Roz and Alex

This evenings plan was to attempt the climb up to the small space through jammed boulders observed from the bottom of the rift in An Unexpected Development. I packed some clean shoes so that mud wouldn’t be transferred onto the calcite flowstone when climbing over it. Arrived at the rift, rigged the climb down with ladders and descended. At the bottom removed oversuit and boots, clean shoes on, climbed across the base of the rift and upwards. Took care to avoid some jammed boulder-size lumps of calcite and any cracked calcite. There are plenty of sound hand/foot-holds. Got to the slot, a bit more restricted than it appears, probably just about passable but for the precariously wedged boulder-sized lumps of shattered speleothem that need to be squeezed through, there are plenty of them. Discretion being the better part of valour, I retreated. Unfortunately, from the position I reached I couldn’t see the full extent of that section of the rift. Alex, then had a go but was unable to see any more than I could.

Next move will be to look at traversing across the rift from the jammed boulder halfway down. We changed back into caving kit, climbed the rift, de-rigged and exited the cave.

  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post468

20th October 2018

digging 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Sun, October 21, 2018 07:42:36

With Jonathon, Brockers, Nick, Tav and Alex

Continued the digging effort to the south-west side of the entrance (downstream), enlarging Quiet John’s dig. Jake, Nick and I, with others, had dug there in the early 90s. It is rather snug in places. Jonathon, Nick and Brockers were all digging, filling bags and moving rocks. Tav was dragging the loaded skip back, not always with ease, to transfer the load into the skip to the surface, where Alex was hauling the skip out of the cave.
I was on the surface too, wall-building and emptying the bags. It was a glorious autumnal morning in the warm sunshine and soon had to remove the oversuit.

Alex rued the mention of a slow start to the morning’s session as the flow of bags and rocks accelerated. A sterling effort by Alex, 107 loads to the surface; 82 bags were emptied and re-bundled to be returned underground at the end of the session, and 25 skip-loads of rock, most of which was incorporated into the wall.

  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post467

16th October 2018

digging 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Wed, October 17, 2018 05:29:14


A steady trip into An Unexpected Development to de-rig the rift following up from Sunday’s trip. Pulled-up the ladders and handline too, it could do with cleaning. All the kit bagged up and ready to go, I decided to spend a short time cleaning some of the foot marks from the calcite. Then, a slower trip out with two weighty bags.

An early start for me tomorrow, so missed out a visit to the Hunter’s.

  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post466

14th October 2018

digging 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Tue, October 16, 2018 06:36:33

With Dr Gina Moseley, Dr Marc Luetscher and Roz, we were later joined by Ray Deasy.

Gina and Marc are Palaeo-climatologists, with a specific focus on cave sites, and had accepted an invitation to visit Hallowe’en Rift and comment on the processes that might have caused the damage to the speleothems and to look to see if there are any deposits of cryogenic calcite. Some time was spent in the rift in An Unexpected Development discussing the processes that might lead to a cave becoming filled with ice during periods of fluctuating temperatures, other thoughts were also expressed. Unfortunately, despite a thorough search no cryogenic calcite was found, Gina suggested that perhaps any CCC’s had been buried under later sediments. It was an enjoyable and informative trip.

Ray was late arriving at the Hunter’s this morning and had missed a ride down to the farm. Not to miss out on a caving trip he continued his bike ride from the MNRC down the hill to catch us up. We had already walked up to HR and were underground, Ray met us at the rift. After the trip he insisted on pedalling back up the hill to the Hunter’s, in his wet-suit, to meet up with Tangent and go digging in Stockhill Mine Cave.

  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post465

13th October 2018

digging 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Mon, October 15, 2018 06:23:46

On Saturday I gave a poster presentation at the BCRA Cave Science Symposium, University of Bristol.

Evidence for frost and ice damage of speleothems in Hallowe’en Rift, Mendip, some initial observations.


Recent discoveries in Hallowe’en Rift, Mendip Hills, Somerset, UK during 2018 have revealed some interesting morphological features and an abundance of shattered speleothems. It had been suggested that this damage was caused by earth movements. However, after a close examination of the speleothems, it is apparent that the cause of the fracturing and damage has been through the actions of frost and/or ice during the Pleistocene.

Tav, Nick, Jonathon and a big welcome back to Brockers, went to Hallowe’en Rift and continued the downstream dig (west-side of the entrance). Tav sent the following account of the activities:

Brockers was pushed up front to enlarge the way ahead, Nick was deepening the trench, while Tav hauled and smashed up the odd rock too big to fit in the skip. Jon earned the clear distinction of ‘digger of the day’ for hauling a gargantuan 102 non-stop skips out to the surface (65 rocks, 37 bags). Then off to the Hunters’ for well-earned refreshments where we were joined by Jake and Matt and showed a bit of old bone to a couple of good-looking young women on their way to G.B.

Rock of the day had to be the ‘old bone’, which subject to a clean-up we decided could be rock, bone stal or metal!

Unfortunately, when the ‘bone’ was scrubbed clean of the attached sediment it was found to be a speleothem masquerading as a bone. Fooled me too!

  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post464

9th October 2018

digging 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Wed, October 10, 2018 19:39:29
Solo (not really digging though!)

Dragged some kit including water and a brush to An Unexpected Development. Going to have another cleaning speleothems session next week sometime. Took the camera along too, just for something else to carry. Actually, I wasn't satisfied with the images last time I tried the big LED array so thought I would try again, remembered my glasses this time. The results were better and good half decent shots were achieved.

I could spend hours in this part of the cave, the more you look, the more you see, especially with the illumination the LED gives. Some fascinating formations and phenomena to observe and ponder, bloody marvellous!

Early start again tomorrow so didn't stop in the Hunter's on the way home. Got back and stuck the oversuit into soak, will wash off in the morning, a dry day forecast for tomorrow.

  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post463

6th October 2018

digging 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Sun, October 07, 2018 07:28:29

With Jonathon

A much-depleted team due to work commitments, injuries and malaise. To cap it all, it was raining and rather chilly.

We discussed our options while getting changed in the shed and, as Jon hadn’t really had the opportunity to look at the passages west (downstream) of the entrance we decided to continue the enlargement in that direction. The ladders were left in the shed, although I filled the water container and carried that up to the cave. I have a day off on Monday and plan to continue the ‘stal’ cleaning later that day.

At the downstream dig, Jon was upfront doing the brunt of the work, I was hauling the skip and stacking the spoil in the entrance. Some large boulder-size slabs were dragged back to the entrance where there is more space to swing a hammer and reduce them to skip-size pieces. By the end of the mornings digging, the passage is much roomier. A channel has been dug in the floor to allow water to drain, a length of pipe can be inserted, and a board placed over it will allow the skip to be dragged freely. The last task of the day was to haul-out and empty the bags on the surface – 29 were counted, the rocks were left for another day. A good morning's digging.

  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post462

29th September 2018

digging 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Sun, September 30, 2018 12:17:41

With Jonathon, Alex, Tav and Ray Deasy.

Another antipodean visitor to the cave, Ray, back for an update, his last visit was earlier this year in April.

Jonathon and Alex set-off with the ladders to rig the climb down the rift and continue digging while I took Ray on a tour around the latest extensions. Tav stayed near the entrance to carry on the enlargement of the passage to the west-side of the entrance and access route to the old digs (80s and 90s).

Ray and I eventually, arrived at the bottom of the rift where Ray joined in with the digging effort, it’s currently hard going, very compact gravel and shattered calcite. I climbed back up the rift to put the pressure spray together, it was at this point that I wished that I had remembered to bring my glasses. Still, managed to cobble the spray together and started to wash the muddy footprints off the speleothems. Used all the available clean water and will require more to finish the job, probably bring in a soft brush. I called down to the others that I was going to make my way out taking the empty water container and spare ladders. They were going to dig for a little longer before making their way out and would de-rig the rift. I stopped, briefly to visit Broken Stal Aven to look for cryogenic calcite crystals, there were some possible, then continued out of the cave.

At the entrance, Tav had stacked some bags and rocks there ready to be hauled up to the surface. So up I went and sorted the skip and rope then pulled up the spoil. All clear, the others arrived, all out of the cave, gate secured and a walk down the hill to the farm in the warm sunshine.

  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post461

22nd September 2018

digging 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Mon, September 24, 2018 06:28:18

With Pete “Snablet” McNab, Pete Bolt, Jonathon, Duncan, Nick and Alex

Snablet’s on a week-long visit from New Zealand, couldn’t let him miss the opportunity for a digging trip.

At the cave, Jonathon, Nick, Duncan and Alex set-off to the rift in An Unexpected Development to get on with digging. I led the two Pete’s for a look around the more recent discoveries before joining-up with the digging team. Snablet got very involved with the digging so we left him there, Nick had decided to return to the entrance and continue the enlargement of the passage leading to the west series. Pete Bolt and myself headed towards Trick or Treat, the duck is still dry, we returned along Toil and Trouble to join up with Nick and start clearing the backlog of spoil at the entrance, Pete loading the skip, I went to the surface to haul out. It was raining. By the end of the session, there is plenty of material for wall building.

After a brief stop at the Hunter’s for some refreshment, several of us, Snablet, Pete Bolt and myself, we also persuaded Tangent to join us, headed down to Churchill to attend the BCRA Hidden Earth conference. A really, pleasant social afternoon/evening chatting to old chums.

Below surveys drawn by Duncan.

  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post460

8th September 2018

digging 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Sun, September 09, 2018 08:35:33

With Jonathon and Alex

A small team again, mostly due to injuries and work commitments, but still an effective group.

At the top of the rift, I decided to try out the new cows-tails and shunt on the descent (and, later ascent) but, concluded that some tweaking is required.

At the bottom, I was digging, Alex and Jon hauling away the filled skips with occasional rocks and dispersed the contents. The slope has been terraced to give some stability and space for spoil dispersal. The spoil comprises sandy, fine to coarse gravel of calcite and some conglomerate with cobbles and boulders of the same. There is some finer silty sediment at the farthest extent of the dig. A large obstinate boulder was getting in the way and required Alex’s assistance to remove it. When it had succumbed, it was man-handled, with some considerable effort, to a position where, with some mighty blows with the sledge, Alex could reduce it to more manageable pieces. Once it was out of the way, a better view of the way forward was possible. There are some small holes from which air movement was detected, roof pendants were also noted at the end. There does appear to be a way around a large stal boss but the floor needs lowering and, at least, one large boulder removing.

It was, by now, time to make our way out of the cave. I collected an old skip from the top of the slope, filled it with tools and took it to the entrance where, there is quite an accumulation of digging paraphernalia awaiting removal from the cave.

  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post459

1st September 2018

digging 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Sun, September 02, 2018 07:40:55

With Jonathon and Tav

A small, but sufficient, team today. On the way to An Unexpected Development, I climbed down into the Tuck Shop to free a hauling rope jammed under a rock and tidy away another of the old skips ready for removal later. When I arrived at the rift, Tav was busy clearing some loose debris from around the jammed boulder. A lengthy discussion ensued regarding the stability of the boulder ensued, the outcome was it is fine, but we could do something to make it even safer sometime in the, not too distant, future. At the bottom of the rift, Jon got on with digging, me and Tav hauled and emptied the skip, a large rock was hauled out too. We finished digging a bit early as Tav wanted to remove an obstruction in the low passage leading to the old digs to the south-west of the entrance. After a joint effort, hammering, chiselling and barring, the obstruction was removed. The will allow water to drain more freely along the passage when it gets wet again. There is a plan for a mid-week dig here when the dig in Wookey 20 becomes flooded or too wet.

It was noted that there are a lot of Tissue moths in the cave, near the entrance, didn’t notice any Heralds though.

  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post458

25th August 2018

digging 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Sun, August 26, 2018 10:47:56

With Nick, Jonathon, Duncan and Tav

On recent trips into Hallowe’en Rift it has been observed that along the hands and knees crawl from the entrance to Stal Bend, there is a significant scatter of moth wings, Tissue moths (Triphosa dubitata) are common visitors to the cave. I assumed they are being predated by spiders, Meta sp., the soft body parts consumed, and the wings discarded.

Duncan and Tav continued the G5 survey. The rest of us went to the bottom of the rift in An Unexpected Development and continued with the dig. I was digging, filling the skip, Nick was hauling it away and emptying the contents, Jon continued the construction of the retaining walls. Initially, the effort concentrated at the very bottom until it was decided a well developed stal boss was blocking the way. Moved back a little bit and started to clear away the debris against the left-hand wall, towards the end of the session air movement was detected.

Took some more photographs before climbing the ladder, exiting the cave to join the team at the entrance.

Frost shattered calcite forms the sloping floor of the rift, An Unexpected Development.

  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post457

21st August 2018

digging 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Thu, August 23, 2018 07:47:09


A trip to take more photographs and have time to get a good look around and make some observations of my own. It was a chilled and peaceful time spent in the cave.

There is a change in the sediments that partially filled the low bedding sections on the approach to the breakthrough into An Unexpected Development. Initially, the sediments are mostly sandy silt with occasional cobble and boulder-size fragments of fractured calcite flowstone. The fractured calcite flowstone becomes more frequent and after the drop down through the draughting rift becomes the dominant component of the sediment fill. It was suggested that the damage was caused by earth movements but, after close examination of the sediments and some documentary research, this is unlikely, and the cause of the fracturing is through frost and/or ice.

Most of the passage in Hallowe’en Rift is shallow below the surface and root growth has been noted in several areas, there are snail shells in the extension to An Unexpected Development and some rare bat droppings.

During the Pleistocene, interglacial and warmer interstadial periods produced calcite flowstone deposition in the cave. Glacial or stadial periods caused periglacial activity in the cave, during which the calcite layers were fractured by frost heave and some redistribution by solifluction occurred.

Hallowe’en Rift was shallow enough for ice to form in the cave during glacial periods. During the build-up of ice and it’s subsequent thawing, ice can flow and slide, thereby stalactites and curtains can be sheared off the roof and stalagmites can be tipped over or sheared off their bases and displaced. Lumps of calcite enclosed in ice can be deposited on inclined surfaces or be left in precarious positions, i.e. at positions which would not be stable if deposited by falling.

Ice related damage covers a wide range of phenomena:

· Missing ceiling formations of older generations;

· Sheared-off stalactites and curtains, deposited on top of floor speleothems;

· Broken and deposited stalagmites;

· Sheared-off stalagmites which have shifted from their base but still stand upright;

· Cracked conical stalagmites;

· Tilted and leaning stalagmites;

· Moraine-like piles of floor flowstone;

· Precariously placed ceiling deposits.

In addition to speleothem damage, freezing and cave ice can leave other traces:

· Cryoturbation in cave sediments;

· Solifluction deposits;

· Transport of gravel without evidence of flowing water;

· High collagen content of fossil bones’

· Loss of uranium due to ‘leaching’;

· Scratch marks on cave walls.

Further observations and comments

“The polished nature of the dolomitic conglomerates was noted throughout most of the cave with hard limestone/dolomitic pebbles and crystalline red marl matrix having been eroded equally. This erosion pattern is in marked contrast to the dolomitic conglomerates in Home Close where the softer matrix is eroded preferentially compared to the limestone pebbles that stick out as knobbly lumps. The polished erosion pattern is consistent with a base of a streamway or a passage full of water as opposed to slow dripping of water. As similar polished conglomerates are clearly seen down the new pitch, as well as in the roofs of the horizontal passages which are phreatic in shape and have well developed scalloping, the logical conclusion is that water that initially formed the pitch was upward flowing. Undoubtedly there has been a limited amount of inflow from above later in the history of this cave’s development but it is relatively insignificant in terms of passage dimensions although highly significant for the development of the formations.

Scalloping in the roof, An Unexpected Development. Direction of flow is left to right.

The only other passage development of notable magnitude has been by a group of nutters using explosives.” (Hawkes, 2018)

“From a speleogenesis point of view, possibly excluding the aven below the Tuck Shop and a few minor modern runnels, the cave is phreatic in origin. The few scallops that could be found all pointed outward, and this, coupled with the lack of any inflow passages into the pitch strongly suggested that the cave had been formed by water rising-up the pitch under a head of hydrostatic pressure before flowing outwards along the bedding planes. We considered that the original outlet was along the choked bedding-plane connection between the platform at the head of the pitch which emerges in the crawl just before the breakthrough point and then flows out along the upper series bedding planes. Later, presumably as the water level dropped, the water flowed out via An Unexpected Development and the various passages comprising the Lower Series.

Where all this water ultimately derives from and where it's going remain a mystery, which is of course exactly how it should be.” (Price and Taviner)

The enigma of the where the water comes from has several possible answers; including from fluctuating sea levels and/or from rising thermal waters.


Nick Hawkes, Duncan Price, Robin Taviner (pers comms)

Joyce Lundberg and Donald A. McFarlane. 2007. Pleistocene depositional history in a periglacial terrane: A 500 k.y. record from Kent’s Cavern, Devon, United Kingdom. Geosphere, August 2007, pp 199-219

Stephan Kempe. 2004. Natural Speleothem Damage in Postojnska Jama (Slovenia), Caused by Glacial Cave Ice? A First Assessment. Acta Carsologica 33/1, 18. p265-289

  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post456

18th August 2018

digging 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Tue, August 21, 2018 07:07:19

I was away this weekend assisting with a cave exploration on the Gower Peninsula. However, other team members kept up the good work. The following summaries by Tav and Nick, respectively:

“Nick, Jon, Mike, Dunc, Tav

Dunc & Tav continued the survey, completing the section below the Tuck Shop, Another Emotional Journey and the links to the Lower Series and everything upstream as far as the breakthrough into An Unexpected Development. The only section left to do is the upstream part of An Unexpected Development, the pitch and the side Annexe Chamber, which we visited but did not survey.

Meanwhile Nick, Jon and Mike continued with the dig and walling.

A chilled and productive session.”

“Three retaining walls started, one at the base and two further up slope to attempt to stem the tide of scree that is trying to roll down, also to provide stacking space for spoil. All would probably be improved with a bit of cementing.

Only a few skip loads came out of the dig itself which would benefit from a proper skip and short rope system. Struggling to feel a draft at the end which is a tad worrisome, but this may be due to increasing mud content between the rocks.”

Some observations regarding speleogenesis were made and have been noted.

  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post455

14th August 2018

digging 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Wed, August 15, 2018 06:47:35

With Roz, Duncan, Tav, Nick, Brockers and Jonathon.

I went with Roz to the new extension of An Unexpected Development to take some photo’s, Duncan, Tav and Jon went to Trick or Treat area to continue with the survey, Brockers and Nick went down the rift to start building a wall and do a bit of digging.

Photo’s done, ended up at the top of the rift where we met Jon emerging from the annex chamber. Nick and Brockers ascended the pitch and before leaving the cave, a loose boulder was removed from a precarious situation and some more loose gravel and cobbles cleared from the head of the pitch.

  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post454

11th August 2018

digging 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Sun, August 12, 2018 11:09:40

With Brockers, Nick, Jonathon, Duncan, Tav and Alex.

A bit of a consolidation session was planned for this morning. Brockers and Nick set off into An Unexpected Development descending the rift to start digging at the bottom, Brockers re-rigged the ladder and line on the way. Jon and I helped carry tools to the rift before marking-out a pathway to avoid the formations along the approach passage to the rift. Duncan and Tav were surveying, while Alex went to some less well visited areas in the cave to collect the tat that has left behind, a cave de-clutter is going to be done.

To the right-hand side of the breakthrough point into An Unexpected Development, another small gap had been noticed. While surveying on Wednesday evening, Duncan and Tav had recorded a length of 6m with the Disto X, an upper continuation of the passage beyond some calcite formations. Me and Jon decided to enlarge the gap and see what lay beyond. After clearing away the loose gravel and cobbles we encountered a rather obstinate boulder that, at first, I thought was solid floor, but after scratching around it for a while, I managed to jam the small pick under an edge and it moved. Eventually, we managed to remove the boulder and with a bit more digging I was able to wriggle through into the passage beyond. I went forward a few metres to look around a left corner and returned, “better get the others” I said to Jon, who was busy enlarging the squeeze. Jon went to the rift and called down to Brockers and Nick. When they reached us, Brockers went on to find Duncan, Tav and Alex. Jon and I continued to enlarge the squeeze and wait for the team to arrive.

We were sat at the corner, when voices could be heard from a small hole above us, there is a connection to the small rift chamber before the low crawl to An Unexpected Development. All assembled, Brockers led the way followed by Alex and the rest of the team. A sizeable well decorated chamber was entered. There were some big formations, again with evidence of fracture and re-growth. Around a right-hand corner the passage closed-down, although continuations beyond some calcite formations and a low sediment filled bedding were noticed it was thought these probably led to known sections of the cave. Later, the survey confirmed this. Not worth pursuing. While Duncan and Tav surveyed the new section, I went to join Brockers and Nick digging at the bottom of the rift, Jon and Alex continued with the de-cluttering.

It was soon time to exit the cave. On the surface, a brief discussion as the cave was secured, 30m is the surveyed length of the new extension, 80m in a week. Another very satisfying session!

Below, the latest line survey carried out by Duncan and Tav, later, drawn by Tav.

  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post453

Latest Survey

digging 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Fri, August 10, 2018 06:57:46

  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post452

8th August 2018

digging 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Thu, August 09, 2018 07:05:54

With Roz, Nick, Mike, Tav, Jon, Brockers, Duncan and Alex.

Photographs by Roz.

A big group assembled tonight but, plenty of room in the cave. Between us we dragged enough kit to rig several pitches. Nick leading the way followed by Mike and Roz, the rest of us were in the cave on Saturday when the breakthrough was made. They were impressed.

At the rift, Nick and Mike descended to the jammed boulder, while Brockers and I put in a bolt and tied-off another hand-line (later, a ladder was put in place). We then descended to the jammed boulder, bolted and rigged a ladder and line for the descent to the bottom of the rift. Nick descended first. From the bottom of the ladder, a steeply sloping floor goes down northwards. The floor is comprised of very loose, very shattered calcite flowstone and other formations, probably the result of earth movements (or frost shatter). The way on is choked, more digging will be required yet. We spent some time removing several boulders, cobbles and gravel, a gap can be seen and there is good air movement. We can remain optimistic.

Meanwhile, Duncan and Tav were surveying the latest discovery, c.50m of passage, this brings recent progress to c.90m, good going!

When the team had had their fill, photo’s taken, it was time to exit. It’s a proper caving trip now. To the Hunter’s for refreshments, of course.

  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post451

4th August 2018

digging 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Sun, August 05, 2018 08:29:32

An unexpected development!

With Jonathon, Duncan, Tav, Brockers and Alex.

The first task of the day was to set-up a drag tray to make the digging in the low bedding a bit easier. That done, I went into the bedding and filled the skip, Jon then hauled the full skip back to the rift chamber and bagged the contents, the bags then sent on their way to be stashed in the entrance. The spoil mostly comprised variable sized lumps and slabs of degraded and fractured calcite flowstone, occasionally some finer sediment. Progress along the low bedding was quite rapid and it wasn’t too long before I was able to gain access to the roomier chamber on the south-side (wrong direction). A quick scan of the chamber, some gardening to make it more comfortable, then, at the base of a marl-filled fissure a small gap was noticed, beyond which a mud-covered floor could be seen. “There has been an unexpected development” I called back to Jon, who followed me through into the chamber, later Duncan joined us. I pulled some rocks from the small gap and soon it was just big enough to wriggle through on my back kicking finer sediment ahead of me. I was gobsmacked by what I saw, a roomy chamber with some very fine formations, at the end, an opening to a continuation, the air was cool. Jon and Duncan followed me through, it was decided that we should get the others and Duncan went back to get them. While we were waiting the access-point was enlarged.

The team was soon assembled in the chamber, there was excitement, Jon led on through the window into the space beyond, taking care to avoid a rather fine, but vulnerable, stalactite. I followed Jon and was surprised to see him standing-up, “got a ladder” he said. He was standing on the edge of a rift c.15-20m deep. Everyone came through and it was an exhilarating experience after all these years. Tav tentatively descended the slope with Alex but they decided a handline was required and came back-up, Brockers went back to the sit-up chamber to get a rope. Meanwhile, I partly descended to the slope and dug my way into an annex chamber, a continuation of the main rift. I returned to find the handline was in place and climbed down to a jammed rock part way down the rift, from the boulder a clear drop to the floor below. It was decided that we should return with bolts and ladders so that a safe descent to the bottom could be made. A traverse across the rift and scan with a torch revealed what looks to be a continuation, but that will be confirmed later in the week. We exited the cave to clear the bags from the entrance, perhaps for the last time.

After the survey had been carried-out a couple of weeks ago, Tav had mentioned that we really needed to go north or go down – well the cave has done both of those. Just goes to show persistence pays off.

  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post450

28th July 2018

digging 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Sun, July 29, 2018 09:13:56

With Alex, Jonathon, Jake and Brockers.

Alex digging, lowering the floor of the rift to be able to get into the passage beyond. Meanwhile, there was a backlog of spoil to shift from Thursday’s activities. I loaded the skip to Jonathon who hauled it along to the sit-up chamber, there he transferred the load to another skip hauled by Jake to the slope. Jake then man-handled the load up the slope, into another skip down to Paul on the haul and shuttle. Pouring a little water down the passage makes the skip hauling much easier. The spoil was stacked at the bottom of the entrance to be removed later.

Eventually, Alex made enough room to gain access to the low passage and make some forward progress. Filling a couple of bags then dragging them back, sometimes with a few stones too, and passed them up to me in the rift where the spoil was dispatched on its journey to the entrance pile.

At the end of the session, I swapped places with Alex to have a look at the dig. Wriggled forward over some lumpy sediment, brushed loose stuff aside and gained another couple of metres in the low, but wide, passage. Can’t really see the full extent to the left and ahead, a lot more clearance required, but to the right it does appear roomier, in-line with the east/west rift. There is a big stal boss on the floor and I think some cryogenic crystals on the roof – need my specs to see properly, next session, bring the camera too.

It was time to make our way out of the cave and to clear the pile of bags and rocks from the entrance. Thirty-nine bags were hauled out and emptied, Jon had used a couple to fill holes along the haul route to ease the passage of the skip. There were lots of rocks too, but no-one was counting, at least thirty probably. Plenty of wall building material now available. It had been another good session, but not the passage gained as hoped, still plenty to do.

  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post449

26th July 2018

digging 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Fri, July 27, 2018 06:50:13

Due to meetings, work commitments and some other reasons the Wookey Hole digging team was rather depleted only Jake and Jonathon were available. Not much the two of them could achieve in the sand dig in 20 so they went to Hallowe’en Rift.

At the draughting dig, the floor was lowered, the filled bags and rock stacked in any space available, and the large slab of degraded flowstone removed and reduced to more manageable pieces. The way ahead is still obstructed but the digging is easier, mostly smaller slabs and finer sediment.

The team were enthused when we met-up later after the progress meeting with Wookey Hole Caves.

The survey drawn by Tav, latest section in red 40m, overall cave length 220m.

  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post448

24th July 2018

digging 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Wed, July 25, 2018 06:45:46

With Jake and Tav

I wanted to look at the current dig to see whether an application of IRS might be required and to photograph the fractured stal in the north/south rift at the [current] furthest point of the passage, perhaps evidence for earth movements. Jake is off to Scotland for a month, also wanted to get a good look at the current dig. Tav thought it a good time to get some surveying done. We did all those things. About 40m of passage surveyed. A good evening and the prospects ahead look very encouraging.

The way forward is obstructed by some slabs of degrading flowstone, they are loose but there’s not quite enough space to shift them. The floor can be dug-out to give more room for progress to be made. About 4m ahead there appears to be more space and there is cool air movement.

  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post447

21st July 2018

digging 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Mon, July 23, 2018 15:41:19

I had spent the early part of the week (16th-19th) at the University of Sheffield Zooarchaeology Labs attending an intensive but informative course “The History of the British Fauna: wild and domesticate vertebrates”. The course was delivered through lectures and practical sessions.

Following the three-day course, a visit to Creswell Crags, including a tour of the museum and caves to see the faunal remains and some of Britain’s oldest ‘cave-art’

Unfortunately, the latter part of the week was marred by some negative correspondences, which meant I wasn’t really in the mood to go digging in Hallowe’en Rift. Others did, and their report follows:

“John, Jake, Paul, Alex

Paul and Jake went to the new chamber, where Paul started digging in the floor’

Whilst Jake loaded the spoil in to skips that passed to Alex at the stal boss and thence to John who stacked them on the slope. After 26 bags and 13 skip-loads of rock had been removed, the whole team then moved back and cleared the days efforts out of the entrance. It was noticed that whilst Paul was removing spoil from the pot, the draught increased considerably, making things very chilly indeed; Moving Jake to complain of having white finger.

The prospects ahead look very good, with 3-4 metres of passage being visible, with airspace of 5-6 inches over a bed of rock slabs and stal, overlying gravel.”

Tav, obviously with too much time on his hands, came up with the following statistics:

“Based on your blog here's a list of the number of trips (i.e. time and effort) expended by the current team since 1991.

Vince - 478 trips; Tav – 217; Jake – 214; Alex – 173; Nick – 166; Jon – 86; Brockers – 64; Matt – 39; Roz – 26; Dunc – 17; Mike M – 10.


  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post446

14th July 2018

digging 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Sun, July 15, 2018 08:28:20

As previously mentioned, the title “Up the Garden Path” has been used elsewhere, in line with some recent correspondences, Jake has suggested the name “The EGO has landed!”.

Duncan and Naomi’s wedding today. Only Jonathon and Alex were available to keep up the good work in Hallowe’en Rift. Alex penned the following summary (edited):

“A diminished but strong team today. It was initially quite warm underground with little sign of the draught. This was to change!

Jon and Alex went to the new chamber “The EGO has landed!” and discussed what best to do. The advice of the sage elders was ignored, the feckless youths deciding to follow their senses, the draught, and the moon milk instead! Therefore, Jon started to dig out the floor of the pot, whilst Alex broke up the boulders from the previous session. Once the boulders were removed, Jon continued to dig downwards in the pot, and Alex retreated to the original rift chamber to haul and stack the spoil Jon was removing; Whilst in between loads, battering the calcite boulder that impinges on the new skip run. As Jon removed spoil from the pot, the draught returned, and the air became distinctly chilly again.

After digging ceased, Alex returned to the chamber to find that at the bottom of the pot, Jon had uncovered a strongly draughting bedding plane appearing to head due north. 2-3 inches of airspace is extant in the bedding and it appears to be filled with small rocks, formerly bedded stal and gravel. This is probably the best prospect for now?

20bags and five skip loads of rocks were removed to the surface.”

  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post445

10th July 2018

digging 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Wed, July 11, 2018 06:44:54

With Nick, Jonathon, Jake, Alex, Brockers, Duncan and Tav.

Nick was digging, Alex on the haul and shuttle, Tav and I were on the surface, the rest of the team positioned themselves wherever they needed to be to move spoil out of the cave.

Initially, Tav was hauling and I was emptying bags and adding rocks to the wall. Then, Alex moved up to the slope and I went below ground to do the haul and shuttle. Later, Alex returned to do the haul and I continued with the shuttling, a back-log to clear. As the session was nearly over, I decided to go up to the end to have a look at progress. We must have gained c.20m during the last few sessions, in fits and starts maybe but good progress. From the rift chamber entered 30/06/18, the way forward leads north-east to east, low c. 0.4m but there is width c.2m, although it does pinch in on either side, the low passage continues c.10m then further progress is stopped at a speleothem blocked north to south aligned fissure. Here are some fine fractured stalactites 100mm to 150mm dia. lying on the floor (?). Although air movement can be detected at this point, it seems much diminished. A clear direction forward is not obvious, yet. The current approach through the low passage is minimalist and requires some further attention, the best way to proceed might then be better assessed. The glimpse of something to the north is still a possible option, as is keeping east and following the line of the west to east aligned fissure. Still, all good stuff and the skip route is much improved.

It was time to leave. 55 skip-loads of spoil – bags and rocks – were hauled out to the surface, a fine effort for a Tuesday evening, and another successful outcome, more metres gained.

  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post444

7th July 2018

digging 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Mon, July 09, 2018 06:36:43

I was away on Gower this weekend but Tav penned an account of Saturday’s activity in Hallowe’en (it has been slightly edited).

“Tav, Nick, Jonathan, Jake, Duncan, Brockers & Alex.

A strong team assembled for what promised to be a particularly busy session. Three main tasks were planned. First was to clear the bang debris created the previous Tuesday. Second was to complete excavation of the crawl to the new chamber discovered last week and install a new return skip, and third was to begin work on opened the continuation of the bedding beyond the new rift chamber. This had provisionally been named Up the Garden Path but as there already is one in Withybrook Slocker it will have to be renamed.

While Tav set about installing the new skip and examining the bedding-plane, the rest of the team began removing the bang debris. Nick was behind Tav, with Jonathan and Jake between him and Duncan, who was situated at the top of the slippery slope. Brockers drew the short straw and spent a non-stop session on the haul and shuttle, passing them on to Alex to haul them out to the surface. Nick then moved up to enlarge the entrance end of the new skip run, while Tav enlarged the other. This was quickly sorted, and attention shifted to pushing the pointy end. Using an obvious access point located to one side of a fake ‘T’old Man’s Wall’, situated immediately above the pot in the floor, Tav quickly gained 3m of wide and continuing bedding plane. The possible black space to the north proved to be a mirage – the only way on being the main route to the east which continued in fine style. Numerous slabs were quickly removed and sent out of the cave before proceedings were slowed slightly by a very large flowstone boss, which obstructed access to what appeared to be more open passage beyond. A combination of Tav, Nick and especially Jake, eventually persuaded the very large slab to exit the bedding plane, where it was deposited on the floor above the pot. This allowed Jake to quickly push forward for a further 2m until the lateness of the hour, coupled with a call for help to remove a backlog of rocks accumulating further back in the cave, brought the days digging proceedings to a close. It is estimated that only a further 15-20 minutes work will be required to enter an open section of bedding a couple of metres ahead. This looks to be about 3m long with a possible extension down to the right and the bedding-plane can be seen to continue beyond – albeit partially choked. A strong draught continues to blow out, and immediate prospects look very encouraging.

Due to several team members being unavailable for next weekend it has been suggested that we return on Tuesday night to try and gain access to the visible space. Alex lost count but estimated that 100 skip loads were removed, two-thirds of which was rock. A solid and positive session, fully deserving of the usual, if slightly later than normal refreshment.”

  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post443

3rd July 2018

digging 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Wed, July 04, 2018 06:27:18

With Roz and Alex

We arrived at the farm to find that the cows had escaped from the field and were exploring the yard. We helped to round them up and persuaded the cows to return to the fields, before getting ready to walk up to the cave.

After many years of digging, all have gone down the slippery slope and followed Another Emotional Journey, it now seems that we are being led Up the Garden Path.

The skip route Up the Garden Path is obstructed by two boulders and a bulge of rock; 4no. 500mm x 12mm holes were drilled, 2no. in the bulge and 1no. into each boulder. While this was being done Roz and Alex carried on to the dig where they dug some more sediment from the floor and bagged it up. They went through to the end to look at the newly accessed rift chamber and see the potential ahead for themselves. Alex took some bearings, confirming that the passage is trending west to east.

When they returned, I could make the necessary connections, retire to a safe location and bring the evening to a satisfactory conclusion.

There will be plenty to clear on the weekend.

  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post442

30th June 2018

digging 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Sun, July 01, 2018 08:42:36

A successful session!

With Tav, Nick, Jonathon, Jake, Duncan and Brockers.

Me digging, Tav clearing the spoil and filling bags, then loading the skip to Nick positioned in the intermediate hauling spot at the beginning of Another Emotional Journey, Jonathon on the not so slippery slope, Jake and Duncan on the haul and shuttle. Water had been collected and poured down the haul route facilitating an easier passage of the skip. Brockers on the surface, wrapped like ‘The Invisible Man’, protection from the biting, buzzing flies.

At the digging front, much of the spoil initially comprised slabs of degraded flowstone, coarse gravel to boulder size, some conglomerate too. Finer sediment was then removed. Forward progress was quickly made, and I wriggled through into the open passage glimpsed last session. Some clearing away of slabs of flowstone and I slid into a finely decorated rift chamber. The chamber aligned east/west, about 4m length, circa 3m at the widest point and up to about 4m high, has some decent flowstone on the south-side and some small botryoidal formations. The chamber has a gravelly floor and a ‘lawn’ made-up of thin tree-roots. The floor drops down at the east-end where there is a small hole, a place we are not to dig. The bedding on the north-side of the rift chamber continues, low and partially filled with sediment. Just beyond the pinch point, another phreatic arch looks to go north, a small gap beyond a mud cone can be seen. To the east, the bedding still goes on, again low and partially sediment filled, there’s plenty of digging to be done yet. The initial investigation over returned to the pinch point to enlarge it and the approach through the bedding. The spoil was again loosened and pushed back to Tav who bagged and sent the skip on its way to Nick and the journey out of the cave. Eventually, we had progressed forward, everyone had to shift forward a position and Nick came-up to join Tav and me at the dig. We’ve probably gained a good 10 metres this morning. Digging was finished in time for the team to look at today’s progress. Any suggestions of digging downwards in the rift chamber were to fall on deaf ears.

Back on the surface, ‘The Invisible Man’ had hauled 33 bags and 25 skip-loads of rock, according to the Brockers method of counting whereby, any skips of rock deemed too light are not counted individually but are added up to make one decent load.

It was almost time for the pub, but we were temporarily delayed by ‘four damsels in distress’ who had lost their way in the wood. They were given directions to find the right path and we were able to go the pub for refreshments.

  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post441
Next »