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.

23rd June 2018

digging 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Sun, June 24, 2018 07:28:20

With Brockers, Tav, Nick, Jonathon and Duncan.

A rather subdued Brockers, suffering from a self-inflicted malady, hung-over, was digging, I was clearing away the filled bags and rocks, loading the skip to Tav in the intermediate position guiding the skip on its way to Nick on the slope. Nick transferred the loads to the next skip down to Jon on the haul and shuttle. Duncan, unable to dive in Wookey Hole today due to a wedding taking place, had volunteered for surface duties, not entirely sure whether he was fully aware of the flies, especially on this fine and very warm morning, stoically he carried on. Alex, unable to dig today due to surgery, was out on a ramble and paid a brief visit to the cave entrance before continuing-on his way.

At the dig, Brockers had worked his way into the bedding and, after some fettling of the skip run, I was able to sit-up in the little rift chamber and fill bags as Brockers loosened the sediments and load the skip from there. Some large detached lumps of flowstone were dragged into the rift where there is room to swing the mini-sledge. After a while, Brockers reported back that the prospects ahead looked very good and he could see something to the right-side. The haul and shuttle again difficult due to the dry conditions had accrued a small backlog, I stopped filling bags, and went to the end to look. Shifted back some more slabs, inched forward a bit more, turned on the focused torch, and it does look very good indeed. Just ahead, to the right, a continuation of the rift appears to be open, probably another digging session away. To the left, a phreatic tube/arch is seen to continue, how far is difficult to assess at this time. Called back to Tav and Nick that they really wanted to come and look, they came, and they were enthused. Nick couldn’t understand why we were going to the pub but, I was desperate for a wee. In truth, there’s still quite a bit of digging to be done to gain access to the passage ahead and make it comfortably workable.

I’ll probably try and come in and apply some IRS on Tuesday evening. There are a couple of boulders and a bulge of rock that are impeding easy passage of the skip. It’s getting a long way from the slope to the dig-face now.

Back on the surface, Duncan had survived the flies, with copious applications of ‘Skin-so-soft’ and had hauled 64 loads out of the cave.

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