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.

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.

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