rambling on

is all about excursions in the countryside including caving and digging trips, walks and thoughts.

Simmonds, V. 2014. An overview of the archaeology of Mendip caves and karst. Mendip Cave Register & Archive (MCRA). (currently being revised, 2016)

I've compiled 'An overview of the archaeology of Mendip caves and karst' that is freely available online at www.mendipgeoarch.net and in the archaeology section of the Mendip Cave Register & Archive at www.mcra.org.uk

Wookey Hole, Mendip

field notes 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Tue, August 21, 2018 06:40:41

16th August 2018: With Roz, Jonathon, Duncan, Tav, Nick and Mike.

Nick, Tav and Mike down in the sand-pit; Duncan, Jon and Roz were on hauling duties; after taking a few photographs, I was emptying the buckets. The sediment removed varied from sand to boulders and there was plenty of it, plenty more to come too!

It was a pleasant evening with lots of friendly banter.

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Wookey Hole, Mendip

field notes 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Fri, August 10, 2018 06:16:51
9th August 2018: with Brockers, Tav, Nick, Jon, Duncan and Alex.

Jon, Nick and Tav playing in the sand-pit with their buckets and spades, Duncan took away their buckets, while the rest of us hauled-away and emptied the buckets and then, sent the buckets back. Some rocks were broken-up too, until Jon broke the hammer. A good time was had by all!

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Wookey Hole, Mendip

field notes 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Fri, August 03, 2018 06:30:49

2nd August 2018: I haven’t managed to dig in Wookey Hole for a while due to one thing or another, in the meantime, the rest of the team have continued with the task. Good to get back and see the progress made.

With Mike, Alex, Jonathon, Duncan, Claire, Tav took some Wessex members for a tour around Chamber 20, etc., he joined us later.

Mike and me digging, the others clearing the spoil away. The digging was not speedy, some big boulders impeding progress, scratched around them and managed to shift a couple of them. The way forward is not entirely clear, so keep digging and see what happens. It was warm, as ever.

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Wookey Hole, Mendip

field notes 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Fri, July 06, 2018 06:33:16

5th July 2018: Jake, Jonathon, Nick, Brockers, Duncan and Tav.

The spoil removal team: Jake, Jonathon, Nick and Brockers, got on with digging out the sediment, breaking up boulders with the new sledge hammer, and loading the resulting debris into the skip. The spoil dispersal team: Duncan, me and Tav, hauled the skip up the slope and emptied its contents on to the ever-growing spoil heap. This procedure repeated over and over, until the clock passed beer o’clock when we left the cave. Plenty of spoil shifted, plenty more to shift!

28th June 2018: Tav, Jon, Mike, Jake and Nick.

Tav’s account, I finished work too late. “Removed the usual steady stream of sand and clay which further exposed the group of large boulders in the floor of the pot. With the aid of the full team, two of these were later physically manhandled up on to the upper ledge.”

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Wookey Hole, Mendip

field notes 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Fri, June 22, 2018 06:35:12

21st June 2018: with Brockers, Nick, Jake, Tav, Jonathon and Mike.

I went to the dig-face to look at a potential boulder blockage, Brockers and Nick were behind me. While I concentrated on cleaning around the boulders and into an alcove, they continued to expand the working space at the bottom of the pit. Filled buckets and the occasional were removed from the dig at a good, steady rate.

By the end of the session, the boulders don’t appear to be too much of a problem at the present, they can be worked around and dug-out, if necessary.

Another fine digging session, thirsty work, time for refreshments.

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Home Close Hole, Mendip

field notes 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Wed, June 20, 2018 06:22:11

19th June 2018: with Nick and Duncan.

Steady trip down to the start of the 60m crawl, reeled in the wire, before getting to work clearing the obstruction barring further progress. The IRS had the desired effect and the blockage had been reduced to fractured rock and gravel. Quickly relocated some boulders, cobbles and gravel and was able to pass over the obstruction into the open passage beyond. Unfortunately, not much of it. The passage, c.2m (h) x 0.75m (w) x 4m (l), heads north-west to a sediment blockage, low-down heading south-west, a body-size tube was followed for c.4m, it continues for another c.4m, where it bends towards south and appears to get a bit bigger. The air is fresh in the tube. Of course, it’s all liberally coated with mud. However, with a bit of digging the tube will be more ‘comfortable’ and the bend ahead reached. Back in the day, might have pushed it a little bit harder. A slightly disappointing outcome, but the obstruction in the 60m crawl has been passed, and that’s digging for you, On the way out of the 60m crawl, both Duncan and I had flashbacks to digging in Daren Cilau, emerging from the Rock Steady Cruise into the sandy passage at the end. Happy days!

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Wookey Hole, Mendip

field notes 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Fri, June 15, 2018 06:02:11

14th June 2018: with Mike, Jonathon, Tav, Alex, Brockers and Jake.

Mike was upfront filling the buckets, Jonathon and Tav were passing the filled buckets up to Alex who emptied the contents into the skip. Brockers did the brunt of the hauling up the slope, I passed the skip to Jake who dispersed the spoil to the heap.

Sediment was shifted at a steady rate but there are some irksome boulders impeding more rapid progress. These will need looking at and a plan formulated as to how best to deal with them.

There was, of course, plenty of banter throughout the evening session.

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Home Close Hole, Mendip

field notes 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Thu, June 14, 2018 05:58:30

12th June 2018: with Brockers, Jonathon and Duncan.

Straight from work to the suppliers to make a collection of the ingredients necessary for the application of induced rapid speleogenesis (IRS), then up to Wigmore Farm to make the preparations for the evenings task while waiting for the team to arrive.

I got changed and walked over to the entrance with the kit. Brockers and Jonathon arrived, Duncan was almost ready, so we set-off underground.

At the bottom of the 26m pitch, Duncan started to dig a potential lead, Jonathon went off to explore Home Close, later to join Duncan, Brockers and me headed off to the 60m crawl. At the obstruction, drilled 1no. hole, 500mm x 12mm, into the right-hand wall, 2no. holes, 500mm x 12mm, into a fractured flake of rock, and 1no. hole, 350mm x 12mm, into a large boulder. Brockers led out with the drill bag and tube, I followed on with a bag and laid out the wire.

Back at the pitch, got the SRT kit on, and when the last man was on the rope, went back to the 60m crawl to bring the evenings endeavour to a satisfactory conclusion – a low, rumbling echo.

The evening was finished off with refreshments at the Hunter’s Lodge Inn. All was good!

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Wookey Hole, Mendip

field notes 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Fri, June 08, 2018 06:22:16

7th June 2018: with Jake, Mike, Jonathon, Brockers and Alex.

Jake digging, Mike passing the filled buckets up to Jon who was loading the skip. Brockers did the brunt of the hauling up the slope and I was emptying the skips for Alex to shovel the sediment up onto the spoil heap. Some large boulders were shifted but they were retained for use for wall building in the future. There was lots of sand and lots of banter, at our end anyway.

Time passed, it reached beer o’clock, we left the cave, got changed in the car park and headed up to the Hunter’s for well-earned refreshments.

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Home Close Hole, Mendip

field notes 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Wed, June 06, 2018 06:34:45

5th June 2018: with Brockers and Duncan.

Rumours of a significant blockage of the 60m crawl, the result of induced rapid speleogenesis (IRS), turned out to be unfounded. The obstructing flake, that bars further progress along the passage, had come down, bringing other stuff with it, a probability that had already been discussed some time ago. We moved some of the larger flakes/boulders into a position that we could work around and set about removing a quantity of fractured rock. Managed to reach forward and clear much of the debris along the right-hand side, there is more, but that was out of reach. We could almost see the way forward and detected a significant air movement. The way ahead remains promising. Another application of IRS may be all that is required to reduce a couple of obstructing boulders and gain access to the potential passage beyond.

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Wookey Hole, Mendip

field notes 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Fri, June 01, 2018 06:21:53

31st May 2018: with Brockers, Alex, Mike, Nick, Jake and Duncan.

Called in at the farm to collect the mattock retrieved from Hallowe’en last Saturday before meeting the rest of the team in the Wookey Hole car park.

Usual warm trip through Chamber 20 to the dig. There was a little bit more moisture in the cave following some recent rain. At the dig, Brockers digging, Alex and Mike shifting the filled buckets and occasional rocks up to me loading the skip. Nick and Jake hauled the skip up the slope to Duncan, who was managing the spoil dispersal.

The dig is getting ever-deeper and a good-sized team, as tonight, is becoming a necessity for removal of spoil from the bottom. A long bar and a sledge-hammer would be useful for dealing with larger rocks, most of the tools we had here were taken to the dig along the rift and haven’t been returned.

We moved lots of spoil then, we went to the Hunter’s.

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Home Close Hole, Mendip

field notes 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Tue, May 29, 2018 06:48:24
28th May: with Roz, Duncan and Nick.

It's been too long since the last visit to Home Close, the aim of the trip, on my part was to pay some attention to the obstruction along the 60m crawl.

A steady trip through the cave to the pitch, which was already rigged, just needed to lower the rope. All down the pitch and along Sandy Passage. At the start of the 60m crawl we split into two groups, Duncan and Nick headed upstream to the gravel choke, Roz and I went to the obstruction barring further progress along the 60m crawl. I started drilling a couple of holes into the flake of rock causing the blockage, it was quite fractured so drilling was not easy. Also drilled two holes into the right-hand wall, all holes 500mm x 12mm. All set-up, we made our way back to Sandy Passage, Roz with the bags while I laid out the wire. Went along to the gravel choke to meet-up with Duncan and Nick, Roz went to look at the boulder choke. Nick was in the process of pushing through the choke, in a pool of slurry, and gained access into a cross-rift, the low gravelly passage continues but requires more digging, about 10m gained. We made our way back to the pitch. Roz was already on the rope, then Duncan followed by Nick, taking my kit bags with them. I returned to the 60m crawl to bring today's proceeding to a satisfactory conclusion, a good reverberating rumble. Then, up the pitch and out of the cave.

We even made the Hunter's!

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