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.

17th November 2018

digging 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Sun, November 18, 2018 07:50:59

With Brockers, Jonathon, Nick and Alex

While the empty bags were being removed from the drying line, I took the opportunity to go underground and have a quick look at progress so far. The enlargement of the south-west passage to hands and knees crawling rather than a flat-out wriggle is an improvement and means that removable of obstructions is easier. Haven’t reached the limit attained in the early 90s yet and looking at the size of passage immediately ahead, squeezes we easily passed back then, we must have been keen!

Nick joined me, and we swapped places. Nick started digging and filling bags, I hauled the skip back and transferred the load to another skip, Alex hauled that away, then Jon took over hauling the skip to the bottom of the entrance. The filled bags were hauled up to the surface by Brockers who then proceeded to empty the bags, 57 of them and a skip load of rocks. The empty bags re-bundled, ready to go back underground at the end of the session.

In between hauling the skip, Alex became distracted by an obstruction that wobbled the skip and occasionally caused it to tip over, spending a long time cursing it and hitting it with a lump hammer and chisel. Eventually, some progress was made, and Alex returned to hauling the skip, he seemed pleased with his achievement.

At the end of the session, I returned to the end to discuss with Nick the best way to remove an annoying obstruction, a calcited slab of conglomerate. The outcome of the discussion was to dig to the left-hand side of the calcited slab, possibly exposing more of it, enabling removal, or by-passing it all together. A metre or so ahead the passage is much roomier, progress will be easier.

Back at the shed, we shared the bubbly, my 501st trip.

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