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.

20th April 2019

digging 2019Posted by Vince Simmonds Sun, April 21, 2019 06:20:51

With Brockers, Nick, Jon and Tav
A view from the Junction. Jon to the north assists with the pipe from the pump. To the east Tav, at the bottom of the entrance, contemplates, it was sunny on the surface.
Today circumstances dictated that the digging effort was to be concentrated beyond the former ‘pinch-point’ in the cold, Gnarly North. The perceived ‘dry and dusty’ conditions did not come to fruition and pumping was deemed to be required. Unfortunately, this action was a failure, the pump sprang a leak and did not work, so the pump and all its attachments were removed to be fettled, back at Tav’s place. This left Nick and Brockers to wallow in a larger than anticipated pool of slurry at the digging end. They said it was cold, how we chuckled. Earlier in the session, another skip had been put together and this was set-up from the dig to the ‘snug’ spot where Jon was lying. This too, became ‘damp’ as the spoil was transferred between skips. I was at the Junction and Tav at the bottom of the entrance, where the filled bags and rocks were to be stashed awaiting removal at the end of the session.

The bags were filled partly with sediment, partly with slurry, it was a good job that the sediment was granular. It was, rather forlornly, hoped that the water would drain out and the bags become a bit lighter, it didn’t, and they weren’t. The skip between myself and Jon soon wore out and became difficult to haul, so that was replaced, and the hauling was much smoother. Most things, by now, were liberally coated with slurry and splashbacks were a common occurrence.

Soon the time came for digging to cease and for the entrance to be cleared of spoil. The bags hauled out to the surface to be emptied, the rocks piled ready for walling, a few were added to the wall as a token gesture. Those of us on the surface rotated the hauling, leaving Brockers, who had been digging, to load the skip to the surface. This he wasn’t so impressed with, he reckoned he was cold after lying all morning in the slurry pool in the cold, Gnarl North. We, however, were warm in the very pleasant spring sunshine – warmest day of the year so far, I believe. 49 bags were hauled out and emptied plus 10 skip-loads of rock.

Satisfied with the morning’s endeavours and in high spirit, we departed and made our way to the Hunter’s Lodge Inn for the usual refreshments.

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