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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 a couple of guest appearances by that well-known antipodean, Ray Deasy.

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.”



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