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.

16th June 2018

digging 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Sun, June 17, 2018 07:32:55

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

A good team assembled today. Alex forging ahead, Brockers clearing away the filled bags and occasional rocks to Jake and the intermediate transfer station, I was on the slope pulling the skip through to remove the contents, take the spoil up-slope to load into the skip to Tav on the haul and shuttle with Nick, or so I thought. I had mistakenly suggested to Nick that, if there was time, he might like to continue opening the low passage to West Side, and so improve drainage along the haul and shuttle route. The outcome was, Tav did the haul and shuttle, Jonathon, on the surface had a lot more bags to haul-out and empty, at least he wasn’t being plagued by clegs today.

Back at the dig-front, I had to concede, one of the large boulders impeding the free passage of the skip was manhandled through and dropped into Tuck Shop, where it can be dealt with later. There’s room to swing the sledge in the chamber. The other, larger boulder was subjected to a concerted beating from Jake, but only partially did it succumb. I rolled one large lump down through Merlin’s to Tav.

The skip along Merlin’s to the haul and shuttle soon needed to be replaced, the cave has dried out considerably, the skips will probably wear out even quicker now. The dryness has increased the drag on the skip and rope requiring a lot of effort to pull the skip along, we had to resort to one bag at a time.

At the end of the session, Brockers, Jake and myself all went to the dig-face to peer into the prospects ahead. It does look enticing, the c.200mm gap over the sediment continues, perhaps 4m is visible at the present, and there is air movement. Plenty of spoil to shift as well.

Today’s tally was 100 loads out to the surface.

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