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.

30th June 2018

digging 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Sun, July 01, 2018 08:42:36

A successful session!

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

Me digging, Tav clearing the spoil and filling bags, then loading the skip to Nick positioned in the intermediate hauling spot at the beginning of Another Emotional Journey, Jonathon on the not so slippery slope, Jake and Duncan on the haul and shuttle. Water had been collected and poured down the haul route facilitating an easier passage of the skip. Brockers on the surface, wrapped like ‘The Invisible Man’, protection from the biting, buzzing flies.

At the digging front, much of the spoil initially comprised slabs of degraded flowstone, coarse gravel to boulder size, some conglomerate too. Finer sediment was then removed. Forward progress was quickly made, and I wriggled through into the open passage glimpsed last session. Some clearing away of slabs of flowstone and I slid into a finely decorated rift chamber. The chamber aligned east/west, about 4m length, circa 3m at the widest point and up to about 4m high, has some decent flowstone on the south-side and some small botryoidal formations. The chamber has a gravelly floor and a ‘lawn’ made-up of thin tree-roots. The floor drops down at the east-end where there is a small hole, a place we are not to dig. The bedding on the north-side of the rift chamber continues, low and partially filled with sediment. Just beyond the pinch point, another phreatic arch looks to go north, a small gap beyond a mud cone can be seen. To the east, the bedding still goes on, again low and partially sediment filled, there’s plenty of digging to be done yet. The initial investigation over returned to the pinch point to enlarge it and the approach through the bedding. The spoil was again loosened and pushed back to Tav who bagged and sent the skip on its way to Nick and the journey out of the cave. Eventually, we had progressed forward, everyone had to shift forward a position and Nick came-up to join Tav and me at the dig. We’ve probably gained a good 10 metres this morning. Digging was finished in time for the team to look at today’s progress. Any suggestions of digging downwards in the rift chamber were to fall on deaf ears.

Back on the surface, ‘The Invisible Man’ had hauled 33 bags and 25 skip-loads of rock, according to the Brockers method of counting whereby, any skips of rock deemed too light are not counted individually but are added up to make one decent load.

It was almost time for the pub, but we were temporarily delayed by ‘four damsels in distress’ who had lost their way in the wood. They were given directions to find the right path and we were able to go the pub for refreshments.

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