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.

1st June 2019

digging 2019Posted by Vince Simmonds Sun, June 02, 2019 06:38:08

With Jon, Nick and Tav

The only plan for today was to clear the debris from last weekend’s application of IRS up in the Cold Gnarly North. While the others were packaging the dry bags ready for use later, I went ahead to reel in the wire.

On arrival at the “pinch-point” it was evident that the IRS had been effective, further progress prevented by a “wall” of shattered rock and gravel. Initially, spoil removal wasn’t easy, the skip was a bit too big for the passage and difficult to load, the larger lumps of rock were moved behind me then, I reversed along the passage, kicking the rocks ahead to a place where Jon could reach them.

Eventually, I was able to squeeze over the top of the rock and gravel pile and get into the small “chamber” beyond, from there it was easier to load the skip and the spoil removal was more rapid. The larger cobbles and boulders placed directly into the skip, Jon sent up some empty bags for the smaller cobbles and gravel. Interestingly, as the “wall” of debris was breached, a feint movement of air could be detected.

We hadn’t finished the rubble clearance, when word come to us that there was a large accumulation of spoil that needed to be taken up to the surface. Jon came up to have a brief look at the progress so far, while I set about with a hammer and chisel to remove some fractured rock flakes from the roof. We then left to join the others and clear out the cave.

It was noticed that Jon appeared to have a liberal coating of mud, whether he was particularly happy about this was difficult to gauge, his face masked in a veil of mud. Apparently, the shallow puddles that had remained in the “lake” chamber had quickly turned to slurry with the passage of skips, this creating splashback from the haul-rope and the skips made quite a splash on arrival. We were, of course, unsympathetic.

It was positively tropical on the surface, and the flies are starting to make a comeback. It had been noted, that below ground, bluebottles were annoyingly present. Anyway, today’s final count: 31 bags, filled and emptied, and 28 skip-loads of rock, more wall building material. There is still plenty of loose spoil to be removed from the area of the, now former, “pinch-point”.

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