dighalloween

dighalloween

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 and Roz Simmonds. There has also been assistance from John 'Tangent' Williams, Pete Bolt, Duncan Price, Bob Smith, Mike Moxon, Callum and Hazel Simmonds, with a couple of guest appearances by that well-known antipodean, Ray Deasy.

28th December 2013

digging 2013Posted by Vince Simmonds Sat, December 28, 2013 16:22:39
With Tav and Alex.

Ignoring the opening up of the rift to the north of Witches Cauldron [saving this for when we clear out the pot] me and Tav went on to Trick or Treat! where we set to work clearing the spoil stacked there. Cleared the spoil stacked in the 1st little chamber back to Alex in Witches Cauldron before shifting the debris and bags from the next chamber after Tav had a quick look along the inclined bedding. We managed to fill the 1st chamber before starting to haul the spoil back to Witches Cauldron until that was filled. The whip of the hauling rope has a knack of redepositing muddy, gritty water into your face and eyes and then, there is always the itchy nose problem when everything is coated in mud. I then suggested to Tav that we could shift a few of the larger rocks back with us as we crawled along Toil and Trouble. All the puddles of water along the way had by now turned into liquid mud and the return journey is back to its squalid best - don't you just love it!





  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post110

27th December 2013

digging 2013Posted by Vince Simmonds Fri, December 27, 2013 14:29:34
Quick solo trip into Hallowe'en Rift as far as Witches Cauldron. The aim was to open up the rift heading north [and potentially into the hillside] off the base of the pot. Didn't take too long and should be some debris to dig out tomorrow if the team can drag themselves away from the seasonal indulgences!



  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post109

21st December 2013

digging 2013Posted by Vince Simmonds Sat, December 21, 2013 17:18:20
Winter Solstice!

It's a good job that I'm happy with my own company, another solo trip. A very strong drip in the cave today after some recent rain and some interestingly situated puddles - it's going to get squalid again for a while! Into Trick or Treat! to continue the dig south off the inclined bedding. Filled some bags and dragged some rocks back into the chamber before reversing into the slot and digging with my feet, pushing the spoil into the open space beyond. Almost through but it's still rather snug and I was starting to run out of energy - or was it nerve? No matter it will wait until the next trip when I will endeavour to remove a little more spoil before having another go - it's not easy going head first down an incline but, I would still like to have a good look at the way ahead. Very interesting!



  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post108

14th December 2013

digging 2013Posted by Vince Simmonds Sat, December 14, 2013 17:47:29
With Alex.

While Alex remained in Witches Cauldron and worked away at enlarging the access into the passage leading north I continued along Toil and Trouble to Trick or Treat! along the inclined bedding and cleared a few more cobbles out of the way before setting to work excavating the sediment. The prospects ahead are looking very tantalising indeed - just out of reach, a body length ahead! Dragging the cobbles back was a little awkward so decided to set to work removing some calcited boulders and reducing them to movable lumps. It was then time to return to Witches and give Alex some assistance to remove a calcite obstruction, fill few bags of spoil and clear the debris out to the surface.

Next session will concentrate on removing the sediment in the inclined bedding and progressing down dip.



  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post107

8th December 2013

digging 2013Posted by Vince Simmonds Sun, December 08, 2013 15:14:30
Solo.

Collected a couple of drag trays on my way along the approach passage near Stal Bend for use at the end in Trick or Treat? At the bottom of Witches Cauldron I stopped for a while to contemplate on the best approach to opening out the lead to the north and I now have a strategy in mind. Worked my way along a rather damp Toil and Trouble and stopped at the T Junction to have another look at the dig to the left [again heading north] and came to the conclusion that this might also need some opening up. Trouble is all the leads to the north are viable propositions and well worth pursuing sometime. Eventually made my way up to Trick or Treat? where I filled a drag tray with some of the debris piled up in the 1st chamber to see how easy [or not] it is for spoil removal - with a bit of effort it's doable. Then slid into the inclined bedding to start dragging some of the loose debris back into the 1st chamber. This had the effect of allowing a better view of the prospects ahead and it is interesting, about a body length ahead the passage appears to open up a bit into either some vadose development or, more likely another rift. I didn't think there is an echo but did feel there was some air movement, although the weather is mild at the present and temperatures are balanced resulting in very little draught. I left the cave feeling satisfied with the session and keen to push ahead - there's a lot more to come from this little cave in the future!

I wore my caving helmet for the first time in a long while and I found it quite restrictive in the low passages, much prefer my beanie and Fenix!









  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post106

23rd November 2013

digging 2013Posted by Vince Simmonds Sun, November 24, 2013 08:29:39
For one reason and another a depleted team - just me and Jake. We waited around for Peter Bolt (who is over from Columbia for a few days) but he didn't show, so off we went.

We cleared the bags stacked at the base of Witches Cauldron ready to be emptied later and then up to Trick or Treat? Started to clear the accumulation of rocks and other debris to make some stacking space and give a clearer view of what is going on in this area. Had some fun reducing a pile of large rocks to a more manageable size to be cleared out at a later date. Both of us came to the conclusion that depth might be an important factor to consider here. It was then time to return to the surface to empty the bags. At the entrance there was Peter who had overslept after a late night at the Belfry and was a little jaded, I gave him my light so he could go and have a look while me and Jake emptied the bags. Peter soon returned not feeling like venturing along Toil and Trouble, so bags emptied, we left and made our way back to the farm, then to the Hunter's.

  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post103

16th November 2013

digging 2013Posted by Vince Simmonds Sun, November 10, 2013 18:16:36
With Tav.

Without a full team to dig nothing for it but to carry out a survey of the Hallowe'en Rift east side extension and to take a couple of photos at the end of Trick or Treat?
Surveyed length is probably in excess of 50 metres, need to do the maths for the final length.

Image below: Tav entering the inclined bedding beyond the second chamber. It's actually bigger than it looks!


After a second look a plan of action has been formulated and initially we will clear away an accumulation of loose debris which will give a better view of what lies ahead and then we will dig down dip to open up the existing airspace and, hopefully it won't be long before we add some more length to Hallowe'en Rift.

There will be a PowerPoint presentation (see below) about Hallowe'en Rift at tonight's J'Rats Digging Awards at the Hunter's this evening.

It's quite a large file so be patient and give it some time to load, it's worth it! Click on slide show and run it from the beginning, turn on your audio there is a soundtrack. If you are of a nervous disposition don't watch it alone at night!


















  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post101

10th November 2013

digging 2013Posted by Vince Simmonds Sat, November 09, 2013 15:09:04
More success!

With Alex and Tav.

First job of the day was to clear the accumulation of bags and other debris from the bottom of the entrance out to the surface. That done we moved on to Toil and Trouble to remove the spoil from there, I was glad to be wearing my plastic oversuit as there were plenty of puddles along the way. Moving forward into Trick or Treat? we spent a little while while sorting out the skip and hauling ropes before opening up the squeeze into the chamber by removing more of the sediment. It was soon time to turn our attention to the slot which was now open after yesterday's effort. Sliding through the slot into the chamber beyond we were able to have a good look around, there appears to be prospects downwards and to the side. Straight ahead the passage continued beyond some formations into an open inclined bedding, down dip there is a continuation although initially constricted. Looking down the incline there is an airspace ~150mm in height can be seen to continue for ~3m to where it appears to become more open again. From the slot we have extended the length of the new section by ~10m with excellent potential for more; in the last couple of weeks we have made ~15m of progress. There is some consolidation to be carried out, tidying of loose debris and working out the logistics of spoil removal from the chambers, also the area will need to be photographed.

A rather satisfying walk down the hill in glorious autumn sunshine and up to Hunter's for refreshments and further discussion regarding the prospects ahead.













  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post100

9th November 2013

digging 2013Posted by Vince Simmonds Thu, November 07, 2013 21:38:51
Solo trip to concentrate the effort in a couple of places. I did have a feeling that after a period of persistent heavy rain the drip might be back - I was right! A damp trip to the end in a cotton overall, plenty of puddles now. My first task of the morning was to start work on expansion of the slot, when that was complete I went back to Toil and Trouble to remove the ridge of rock in the lowest section, a very awkward drilling position and also quite wet; hopefully both tasks will have the desired effect.

Passed on the latest news re: the breakthrough to the farmer's who were out rounding up the cattle on the hill.

Tomorrows session might be interesting.









  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post99

2nd November 2013

digging 2013Posted by Vince Simmonds Sat, November 02, 2013 16:33:44
With Alex, Tav and Jake.

After the excitement of last weekend's new discovery a consolidation period. Last Sunday's loose ends were cleared and then the task of making the approach into the chamber a bit more spacious progressed - a lot of spoil was shifted today and it's all at the bottom of the entrance waiting to be hauled out! At the end of the session a quick excursion into the newly accessed chamber with Tav to plan the next move. Tried to open up the slot with a hammer but might have to resort to a different enlargement process. Still got a slightly better look at the prospects and they look good, it looks like the rift might have something to follow to one side and possibly down, the air was fresh rather than a draught but atmospheric conditions are at a balance at the moment.

Hunter's of course!

On reflection Tav's suggestion of 'Trick or Treat?' as a name for the new bit does fit rather well, so 'Trick or Treat? it is.




  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post98

27th October 2013

digging 2013Posted by Vince Simmonds Sun, October 27, 2013 15:50:21
Solo trip into Hallowe'en to take a few photo's and to take care of some unfinished business.

Image below is looking back into breakthrough point after some spade work to make it a little less snug.


Image below: a group of stalagmites on one side of the breakthrough, the largest is ~300mm high


Image below: just about shoulder height is a slot leading to an open rift, the slot will need a bit of modification!


Image below: peering beyond the slot into the open rift beyond!


Images below: a group of random photos from around the chamber, there are a number of decent formations and good flowstone.


With the loose ends tidied up it was time to exit the cave and enjoy some lunchtime refreshment at my favourite hostelry and chat to some people.









  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post97

26th October 2013

digging 2013Posted by Vince Simmonds Tue, October 22, 2013 07:14:08
Breakthrough!

With Alex, Tav, Jake and Nick

While the team were clearing the stack of bags from the entrance shaft I carried on to the end to batter the the constriction impeding an easier progress to the dig face - successfully removed. Then another good clearing session ensued and progress was made pretty quickly, all the spoil being cleared to the surface. At the end of the clearing session decided to turn around and take a closer look at the end, I moved a bit of sediment and peered ahead to see, unexpectedly 'a small chamber', more scraping to get a better look and the chamber was a bit bigger than expected, more frantic scraping and with each look the chamber looked better - getting excited now! Eventually rolled over on to my back and went for it - a rather snug fit - and got through into a nicely decorated chamber ~3m in length, up to 2m wide and maybe 4m high with some interesting looking solutional development. On one side and ~1.5m above the breakthrough point the passage is ~1.5m wide x 0.5m high and probably 2m long to a squeeze [which will be easily modified] into a rift possibly 5m long, at least a metre wide and again well decorated, there is a possibility that there is a continuation of this rift to one side and we have no idea whether it goes down to a lower level. This rift was not entered because we need to record the decorations before they become soiled and, after all, there's no rush - need to savour these moments and involve the whole team. After a bit more digging to open up the breakthrough point Nick came forward to have a quick look before we exited the cave and went to the Hunter's for a celebratory pint of good local ale!

Plan is to open up the approach to the breakthrough, take photographs, and then we will open up the squeeze and investigate the rift.

Thought I'd had enough breakthrough's in my time to get blase about them, but it is still the biggest buzz there is! Still shaking on adrenaline!

And it is Hallowe'en in a few days!





  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post96

20th October 2013

digging 2013Posted by Vince Simmonds Sun, October 13, 2013 09:36:57
With Tav and Jake.

Tav and myself at the end while Jake settled into the pot. After a bit of scratching around to make some room I managed to turn around and dig feet first, utilising the spade supplied by Tav. Once a rhythm was established progress was rapid and all the available bags were filled.

We have almost dug across the small chamber/passage and almost at the point where the roof lowers once again. Beyond the way ahead still has air space although there is sediment to dig out - still a good echo from ahead. Entry to the digging ahead is a bit on the snug side so will have to remove either a bit of stal in the floor or trim off the roof.

We then set about shifting all the bags from the pot to the bottom of the entrance shaft ready to be hauled to the surface at a later date. Satisfied with a good session we retired to the Hunter's for the usual refreshments.



  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post95

12th October 2013

digging 2013Posted by Vince Simmonds Sat, October 12, 2013 08:45:55
With Alex, Tav and Nick.

Went to the end with Tav and cleared the debris and some sediment from the dig, Nick did the hauling back to the pot and Alex hauling and shuttling from Stal Bend back to the base of the entrance. It should be noted that the hauling ropes we are using were donated by the late Willie Stanton - it's very satisfying to know that diggers are still helping diggers! When the dig was cleared of spoil I did my bit for the "enlargement process" while the rest of the team cleared the spoil accumulated at the bottom of the entrance out to the surface.

Still looks very interesting at the end, although the way ahead is impeded by some calcifications there is still a good echo. Time will tell I suppose.

When all was clean and tidy job was completed and we retired to the Hunter's for refreshment.







  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post94

10th October 2013

digging 2013Posted by Vince Simmonds Fri, October 11, 2013 07:16:37
Another solo effort.

Stopped in the field for a chat with the farmer who was out checking on the livestock before strolling up to the entrance. Chilly evening after a day where temperatures have taken a sudden drop. Straight along to the end to continue the "enlargement process", seemed to be an awkward working position this evening probably due to the cramped space and downward slope. Drilling didn't go as easily as usual due to harder, more competent rock but eventually got the job done and left the cave satisfied. Couldn't be bothered to stop at the Hunter's so headed off in a homeward direction.



  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post93

6th October 2013

digging 2013Posted by Vince Simmonds Wed, October 09, 2013 21:51:44
With Tav and Nick.

Went up to the end with Nick where it is now possible to comfortably work with two while Tav positioned himself at the base of Witches Cauldron. Between us we cleared all the debris and some sediment from the dig back to the pot before changing position and getting all the spoil to the base of the entrance. I was a bit hungover after a club dinner last night - should have stuck to my instinct and given it a miss!

  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post92

3rd October 2013

digging 2013Posted by Vince Simmonds Fri, October 04, 2013 07:15:01
With Alex.

Long while since Alex ventured under on a mid-week trip. Straight to the end to continue the "enlargement process" pushing to one side the debris created last weekend. While I was getting on with things Alex tidied along Toil and Trouble and went up to Merlins to listen for any sound of my activities - nothing could be heard.
Job done we left the cave, down to the farm to get changed only to find the gate locked so had to get the farmer to let us out. Unusually warm and humid evening.

  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post91

28th September 2013

digging 2013Posted by Vince Simmonds Sun, September 29, 2013 07:50:14
With Alex, Jake and Nick.

One of the first jobs of the session was to sort out the ropes on the drag tray so that it would go all the way to the end. That done, set about clearing debris that was the bulge in Toil and Trouble, hopefully progress along the passage will be easier. At the end spoil removal was much improved loading the drag tray directly even filling bags is easy. When clearing was completed continued the "enlargement process", Nick came up to the end for look as he hadn't been around for a while. Job done we retired to the Hunter's for refreshment and discussion.

  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post90

26th September 2013

digging 2013Posted by Vince Simmonds Fri, September 27, 2013 07:23:27
Solo.

Went to the end and cleared the spoil from last weekends "enlargement process" to one side and managed to to get forward half a body-length into a small, draughting chamber/possible passage ~2m wide, ~3m long and ~0.4m high in places. There is quite a bit of loose debris and spoil to be cleared, but a quick bit of work with a bar revealed the floor is partly made up of a thin veneer of degraded calcite over sediment ~200mm thickness. Further clearance will need to be carried out on the weekend when a better evaluation of where this passage is going should be possible. Back to the main task of the evening which is the removal of the bulge in the floor of Toil and Trouble to ease progress, I must say it was very awkward working and am glad that it was dry.

  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post89

22nd September 2013

digging 2013Posted by Vince Simmonds Mon, September 23, 2013 07:18:59
With Tav and Jake.

Yesterday's little effort had the desired effect and there was plenty of debris to remove. After clearance was able to get a better look into the open space beyond, still can't quite see how it might develop but there appears to be about one and a half body lengths of caveable passage. I can just about get to the edge of where the floor dips away beyond the calcite floor next "enlargement" might do it! Jake came along to take a look at the end, commenting on the strength and freshness of the air at the end and was suitably impressed with the prospects. While using the drill I managed to snap the drill bit so had to exit the cave, return to the van and get another drill bit to complete the task. Satisfactory end to the session. I might take advantage of working locally at the Priddy Circles and venture underground for a mid-week trip.



  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post88

21st September 2013

digging 2013Posted by Vince Simmonds Sun, September 22, 2013 07:29:31
Solo

A trip into Hallowe'en to progress the "enlargement". Last session's effort didn't quite have the desired effect, not much had been removed although there was a large fracture that wouldn't succumb to the chisel or bar. Hopefully today's effort will bring it down along with more material. We are so close, can reach into the space beyond and feel the bottom of the calcite flowstone floor that bars progress. Another trip tomorrow is planned with the team.

  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post87

14th September 2013

digging 2013Posted by Vince Simmonds Mon, September 16, 2013 07:23:49
With Alex, Tav and Jake.

Last weeks 'enlargement process' was very successful and there was plenty of debris to shift, so much that the passage was blocked by some rather large flakes.
Cleared some of the loose before dragging back the flakes and reducing them in size with the lump hammer so they could be placed in the skip, also managed to clear some of the sediment. Can see ahead now and it looks good indeed and the draught was strong again, frustratingly it's just too snug to get a full view of what lies ahead. Parts of it look caveable though - maybe next session, or the one after! Finally continued with the 'enlargement process' before walking back down the hill to the farm satisfied with the effort.



  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post86

7th September 2013

digging 2013Posted by Vince Simmonds Sat, September 07, 2013 16:42:39
With Alex, Tav and Jake.

Predicted poor weather hasn't materialised so another pleasant walk up the hill from the farm. Arriving at the dig face it was immediately apparent that Monday's trip to further the "enlargement process" had been very successful and it took a while to clear the resultant debris. Only scratched away at a little of the sediment that obscures a full view before concentrating on clearing shattered rock and getting prepared for more of the "enlargement process. I repeat that prospects appear very rosy and look forward to the next trip which will, hopefully allow more of an insight into the relatively open space ahead. Exciting times ahead!





  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post85

2nd September 2013

digging 2013Posted by Vince Simmonds Tue, September 03, 2013 05:14:52
Quick solo trip into Hallowe'en Rift to continue the enlargement process along the passage to the right of the T junction. Will also give us something to clear on the weekend. In and out all done in ~45 minutes. Gave the pub a miss due to an early start in the morning.

  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post84

1st September 2013

digging 2013Posted by Vince Simmonds Mon, September 02, 2013 07:13:31
With Alex, Tav and Jake.

Well autumn is with us although really hope the excellent summer weather will continue. Change of day due to work commitments so a pleasant Sunday morning stroll up the hill to the cave. Another clearing session scraping back the sediment as far forward as it was possible to reach just to get a better look at the space ahead. It's tantalisingly close and 25 years ago may have tried to squeeze through but will have to be patient for a while longer and make it big enough for all. The more open space ahead turns to the right and it is not possible to see any further beyond that. Good draught again! Got a reminder from the surface team that the pub closes early on a Sunday and as there was not much spoil to shift we called it a day and went to the Hunter's.

  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post83

29th August 2013

digging 2013Posted by Vince Simmonds Fri, August 30, 2013 06:59:25
Another solo trip. Returned to continue the digging to the right of the T junction. Last evenings enlargement process wasn't as effective as hoped for due to a band of softer, ochreous rock interspersed with thin veins of minerals mostly calcite. Persevered with the task and will have to wait until the weekend to see the results. Enjoyable session though.

  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post82

28th August 2013

digging 2013Posted by Vince Simmonds Thu, August 29, 2013 06:38:22
Another Wednesday evening solo trip to Hallowe'en Rift.

Pleasant evening for a stroll up the hill to the entrance. Quickly down the shaft and on towards the end, stopped at the bottom of Witches Cauldron for a short while to sort a couple of things out and on to the dig face. Continued the enlargement process concentrated on the roof before making my way back out. Another successful session.

  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post81

24th August 2013

digging 2013Posted by Vince Simmonds Sun, August 25, 2013 08:05:58
With Alex, Tav and Jake.

Clearance session today, I went along to the end to bag up the loose sediment piled up on Wednesday while Alex, Tav and Jake cleared the spoil from the bottom of Witches Cauldron out to the surface. When Witches was clear the bags were removed from the end. Did a bit more scratching around and took some photos but I am not impressed with new camera, doesn't have any individual shooting mode settings.



The way ahead is frustratingly just too snug and just out of of clear sight beyond the sediment in the forefront and goes off to the right!







  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post80

21st August 2013

digging 2013Posted by Vince Simmonds Thu, August 22, 2013 05:26:07
Missed out on the weekend digging session and the upbeat messages from Alex and Tav prompted a midweek solo trip to go and have a look for myself; also to get a plan in my head for the next phase of the enlargement process. Hallowe'en is a different place now that it's dried up, almost comfortable! The end is indeed more spacious and the way ahead is clearer just too snug and will need to continue working along the roof. About a metre ahead the floor appears to dip and there is a layer of soft sediment to remove giving more space. Beyond it does look passable - but for how far? Time will tell. As ever it's looking good!



  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post79

17th August 2013

digging 2013Posted by Vince Simmonds Sat, August 17, 2013 19:11:11
Unfortunately I had to work today down in Kimmeridge, Dorset where we are carrying out an archaeological excavation prior to the construction of a new fossil museum and village hall. It is a sort of community project and there are a number of Open Days for both locals and members of the public to have the opportunity to see what is going on and what has been uncovered; also involved is Julian Richards of 'Meet The Ancestors' fame who has a long time association with AC Archaeology (my employers).

Digging duties at Hallowe'en Rift were carried out today by Tav and Alex.

The following summary was provided by Tav:

Tav cleared the end with Alex in the they moved all of the debris plus some floor fill back and stacked it in the pot until the space was completely filled up. The enlargement process had done a sound job and the way on ahead and to the left is now much more visible - a clear view into something bigger which may even be man-sized! The floor fill is easy to dig so it may be possible to enter without much more enlargement but taking out the roof does make the whole thing much more accessible. Very strong draught at the dig face.

Next session should be to clear the pot and continue with the enlargement at the end.





  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post78

10th August 2013

digging 2013Posted by Vince Simmonds Sun, August 11, 2013 08:05:51
With Alex, Tav and Nick back from his travels.

Cleared away the loose debris from the last enlargement session and with a bit of hammer and bar work managed to remove some large flakes from the roof. The flakes needed reducing in size to get them into the skip although they were still quite weighty. Removal of the flakes revealed some attractive rock with bands of reds and ochre yellow interspersed with veins and pockets of calcite varying in colour from translucent to white. After the clearance work was completed and all spoil was out to the surface continued with the enlargement process to remove a bulge of rock in the roof that may allow access to a slightly increased passage height beyond - time will tell. Still moving onwards!



  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post77

3rd August 2013

digging 2013Posted by Vince Simmonds Sun, August 04, 2013 09:03:23
With Alex, Tav and Jake.

The first task of the session was to continue the removal of spoil left over from previous sessions - mostly sand, gravel and some small rocks. That done we continued with the enlargement of the passage to the right of the T junction. The way ahead looks very tantalising and it's a little frustrating being restricted by the passage dimensions. Good draught again!

  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post76

27th July 2013

digging 2013Posted by Vince Simmonds Sat, July 27, 2013 15:58:27
With Alex, Tav and Jake.

With a good team assembled priority was to set about removing the pile of debris accumulated at the nether regions of the dig, the first task was to clear the spoil from the bottom of Witches Cauldron before clearing T junction. While the initial clearance was taking place I set about work with hammer and chisel to bring down the loose debris in the T junction after last weekends enlargement process and managed to drop a rather large flake of dolomitic conglomerate onto my knee and leg. Eventually a large quantity of spoil was removed to the surface, but not everything as there is still some gravel remaining, but there is space enough for the next phase of enlargement work to continue, concentrating for the moment on the roof. Marvellous!





  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post75

20th July 2013

digging 2013Posted by Vince Simmonds Sun, July 21, 2013 08:08:42
Just me and Tav this morning. Another warm walk up the hill, as soon as the cave was entered there was lovely cool, fresh air. The cave has dried out considerably during the last few weeks, just a little dampness along Toil and Trouble but it's comfortable enough to wear cotton overalls without the oversuit. Cleared some of the debris piling up in T junction back to the bottom of Witches Cauldron ready to be hauled out at a later date. We only cleared enough of the spoil to be able to continue the enlargement work in relative comfort, concentrating this session on removing a bulge in the roof. The calcite floor noted last session is quite rotten in places and given enough headroom it might be possible to batter a way through it and make forward progress. With some of the spoil removed can now get a better look at the way ahead and it looks very promising indeed, it's draughting well. Tav came up to the end with some required kit and to get a good look at the prospects ahead. Next week we will have a clear out session, hopefully there will be a bigger team available.

  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post74

13th July 2013

digging 2013Posted by Vince Simmonds Sun, July 14, 2013 09:34:48
Just the two of us today - me and Alex.

Very warm walk up the hill in the glorious sunshine - let's hope this weather continues for ages!

Continued with the task of opening up the passage to the right of the T junction and cleared the debris from last weekend to one side to get a better look at things. There is a calcite flowstone floor over loose sediment with ~150mm of airspace over the top where a draught can be felt, there is a slight echo. Drilling into calcite is not very easy, hammer action does not function well, however the job was done and all the spoil from last weekend was piled back on top. Will have to wait until the next session to see how successful today's effort has been, still there will be plenty of spoil to shift.

After refreshment at the Hunter's spent a very pleasant afternoon at Priddy Folk Festival and then walking over to the Wessex hut to chat with Jodie Lewis's archaeology students from Worcester before going up to look at the excavation on North Hill - very interesting.

  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post73

6th July 2013

digging 2013Posted by Vince Simmonds Sat, July 06, 2013 20:25:34
With Alex ' Dead Batteries' Gee, Rob 'Failed Light' Taviner and Nick' Siberian Express' Hawkes.

Glorious summer weather and a warm walk up the hill, as far as I'm concerned this weather can last for months - love it!

Today's trip was all about starting to open up the passage to the right of the T junction at the end of Toil and Trouble. While the others set about clearing what spoil there was at the base of Witches, I did my bit with the drill and technology. A satisfactory trip and it will be interesting to see how things have been developed next trip.

Jake will be back next weekend, while Nick is off to Kazakhstan.

  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post72

29th June 2013

digging 2013Posted by Vince Simmonds Sun, June 30, 2013 06:47:47
With Tav and Alex, who left his oversuit in the garage so didn't actually venture underground and went mooching about instead. A warm walk up to the cave in glorious sunshine.

Meanwhile Tav and I continued digging along the left hand side of the T junction. The passage appears to be following a narrow rift, choked with sediment and rocks, still slightly wary of the left bank of very compacted sediment, still going forward though. The draught didn't feel as strong today but that is probably down to atmospheric conditions. Back at the T junction I am very intrigued by the passage to the right which seems to turn after a few metres and perhaps open up (?). Might need to sort out a mid-week trip and start to develop the passage into something more workable. When we ran out of bags we stopped digging and shifted all the bags out of the cave to empty them on the surface, Alex was there to help out.

  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post71

15th June 2013

digging 2013Posted by Vince Simmonds Sun, June 16, 2013 07:59:12
With Alex, Tav, Jake and a visitor from Australia - Ray Deacy. As usual we all met at the Belfry; fair play to Ray arriving on a girls bicycle having pedaled from Bristol to get a trip into Hallowe'en, all aboard the Bongo and down to the farm.

At Hallowe'en I gave Ray a quick guide to the east extensions before we slid along Toil and Trouble to dig. I went along to the left hand rift while Ray settled into the snug T junction, Tav was in the pot, Alex shuttling along the approach passage from Stal Bend to the entrance, whilst Jake was on the surface hauling and walling. It wasn't too long before Tav, having recently turned 50 and becoming grumpy with it, was getting rather snowed under with spoil, it didn't help when the hauling rope detached from the skip a couple of times, a change of plan was required. With the ample space we have created at the dig face I decided to fill the bags at the end which seemed to work alright and the grumpy old git was appeased and we continued to dig until all the bags were filled and it was time to go to the pub. Emerged to find a rather damp looking Jake who, unfortunately had to endure some monsoon conditions, admittedly there was quite a strong drip of water coming down the entrance as I climbed out.

Tav had purchased a new lock at a car boot sale and has the advantage of having more than one key, the old one has now been replaced.

  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post70

8th June 2013

digging 2013Posted by Vince Simmonds Sat, June 08, 2013 18:32:10
Just me and Tav today. On entering the approach passage a strong, cool draught was immediately noticeable. We continued clearing mixed spoil of cobbles and sediment from along the rift to the left of T junction. After the hauling rope had detached itself a couple of times we ceased digging and Tav came up to the end to have a look. In a confused moment I had convinced myself that I could see a way ahead around a massive slab of rock breakdown - only for Tav to point out that I was looking back towards the T junction - must be my age! After a brief discussion about the best way forward it might be a good time to open up the right side of the T junction, the draught does feel fresher, stronger from there.

  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post69

1st June 2013

digging 2013Posted by Vince Simmonds Mon, June 03, 2013 06:10:03
With Tav, Jake and Nick, Alex working this weekend so couldn't make it.

With a strong team assembled we were able to shift spoil from the dig face out to the surface. Continued to dig along the left hand side removing a mixture of cobbles, boulders and sediment. There is quite a widening of the rift appearing and removal of some cobbles out of the floor revealed more loose cobbles/boulders but with air spaces rather than sediment and felt a draught. Will need to remove a considerable pile of spoil to get a proper understanding of what is going on. As ever prospects look good!

  • Comments(0)//dighalloween.mendipgeoarch.net/#post68
Next »