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 Fri, April 27, 2018 07:33:01

26th April 2018: Brockers, Nick, Jake, Jonathon, Roz, Duncan, Mike and Alex.

A big team assembled this evening, keen to get the Sand Dig re-started, it might have been bigger had others been able to attend. Roz and I had arrived a little late, the rest of the team were ready, so off they went with the skip and ropes, Brockers had brought along some ropes as well.

At the dig, Jake, Nick and Brockers were digging and emptying the filled buckets into the skip. Hauling was carried-out by Jonathon and Mike; the rest of the team were assigned the task of spoil dispersal. Water was poured down the slope, an effort to ease the passage of the skip, it worked for a while, on the down-side, it also had the effect of muddying the rope making it difficult to grip. One of the spare ropes was knotted-up and replaced the slippery rope, making the haul a bit easier.

At the end of the session, a lot of spoil had been shifted. The sediment comprises mostly silty, fine to medium grained sand with the occasional cobble of limestone. There’s plenty more of it to shift too!

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Wookey Hole, Mendip

field notes 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Fri, April 20, 2018 07:33:53

19th April 2018: with Nick, Duncan, Brockers, Jonathon, Mike, Claire Cohen and Ray Deasy.

A good team assembled for this evening’s foray. As there were plenty of people to carry-on with the dig down the rift, I decided to go along and check the current state of the Sand Dig, Nick came along too. We’ve had a spell of drier weather recently, and surface temperatures are rising. It had been noticeable on the trip through Chamber 20 that water flows had decreased, it was not a surprise to find that the Sand Dig was now, dry. There had been quite a slump of sediment into the end of the dig, as we were there, Nick and I started to clear-out some of the rocks. A skip and hauling rope will need to be organised ready for the digging activities to resume next week.

It was soon time to re-join the rest of the team, they had continued clearing the spoil from the fissure leading-off the rift. When they had emptied the last few bags and climbed the slope, we exited the cave.

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Wookey Hole, Mendip

field notes 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Fri, April 13, 2018 06:49:58

12th April: with Tav, Jonathon, Brockers and Duncan.

Five go digging! I couldn’t make the trip last week, but others did and had cleared some of the bang debris, the flake had been successfully fragmented. This evening, we continued to clear the accumulation of spoil from the slowly expanding alcove/rift. The digging is the easy bit, the removal of spoil along the rift is awkward and quite technical, five people is the minimum number required to make digging effective. The spoil mostly comprises gravel and cobbles of conglomerate and limestone with the occasional boulder, these were soon reduced to a more manageable size with the small sledge-hammer. At the end of the session, I could stand-up in the rift and turn-around. There remains, plenty of spoil for another digging session, maybe we will be able to make a better assessment of the prospects then.

Some drier, warm weather is forecast, we might consider going to have a look at the sand dig soon.

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I've got a 'heart of stone'.

field notes 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Fri, March 30, 2018 14:32:46

This echinoid was recovered from the spoil heap of a prehistoric ditch being excavated in Sherborne, Dorset recently.

Micraster has a characteristic heart-shaped test, covered in small bosses and usually found in strata of Cretaceous age. Interestingly, the underlying geology at the Sherborne site is Jurassic, this poses a question: does the 'heart of stone' represent a placed deposit? Unfortunately, it was found 'out of context' so one cannot be certain.

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Wookey Hole, Mendip

field notes 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Thu, March 22, 2018 06:21:02
21st March: with Roz.

A trip to apply some IRS. As usual, a pleasant trip though Chamber 20, a fine section of Mendip cave passage. There is still a good trickle of water in places.

At the dig face, 4no. awkward holes, 500mm x 12mm, drilled and filled, a loud retort and all was well.

Passing the Hunter's Lodge Inn, it would be churlish not to stop!

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Wookey Hole, Mendip

field notes 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Fri, March 16, 2018 06:58:08
15th March 2018: with Duncan, Jonathon, Max Fisher, Tav, Mike M and Leonie (MCG). Alex came too!

While us headed-off to the digs, Alex did his own thing, mooching around 20, etc. I went with Leonie to look at the 'Sand Dig', the others slid down the rift to go digging.

At the Sand Dig, water levels were higher than the last visit, a consequence of recent heavy rain. It could be a while before it dries enough for digging.

We left the Sand Dig and joined the rest of the team to help with the digging. At the end of the session, the dumped spoil had been removed from the alcove and the narrow rift beyond could be seen. Progress forward will require the application of some induced rapid speleogenesis (IRS). That will have to wait until next week after I return from the Peak District.

It was a fine evening's activity!

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Dawn chorus

field notes 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Tue, March 13, 2018 06:16:02
While out on a regular early morning (c.05:25am) walk with the dog I made the following observation. After I leave home, I pass close to some residential properties, where there is constant artificial lighting, here early morning birdsong is well underway. When I reach the lane and walk-up the hill, there is only natural light, the birdsong has not yet begun. I return along the same route, 20 minutes or so later, the birdsong is just getting underway in the naturally illuminated lane.

An example of how light pollution affects the birds natural daily cyclic rhythm.

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Wookey Hole, Mendip

field notes 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Fri, March 09, 2018 06:10:51
8th March 2018: with Jake, Jonathon, Dunc and Mike.

It was good to get underground again after a two week lay-off, due to snow and other things.

We continued with clearing-out the alcove and narrow rift beyond. I thought I sensed some air movement now the gaps between the fill are opening-up. The drips through Chamber 20 were active, water flowing down the cascades strongly. It was an enjoyable evening.

Should remember to bring the camera.

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field notes 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Sun, March 04, 2018 08:09:17
3rd March: with Roz, and Buster.

Not digging in Hallowe'en Rift today so decided to walk to the Hunter's Lodge Inn. Also an opportunity to see how much snow was on the hill-top. Up to Smitham Chimney, the pond had frozen over.

Into the woods,

before crossing fields towards Wigmore Farm, stopping to admire some fine ice formations in a sink.

Some impressive drifts too. We continued the walk towards Red Quar, from there over Stockhill to the pub for lunch and chin-wagging.

After lunch, along the road to SMCC and across the Mineries, the pond was frozen over, but not hard enough to try and venture out.

Back ...through Stockhill to Red Quar, the recently ploughed field has good evidence of aeolian sediment transportation having occurred, the plough ridges were wind dried.

Followed the bridle-path into the green lane before going across fields to Smitham, down to Garrow Bottom and through Harptree Combe.

A good day's walk, about 7 hours. Trudging through the deeper snow was arduous at times, especially for the Jack Russell with his little legs.

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Wookey Hole, Mendip

field notes 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Fri, February 23, 2018 06:21:51
22nd February 2018: with Jake, Jonathon, Brockers, Dunc and Mike M.

Mike M and myself dropped further down the route to Sump 23.75 to have a quick look at another potential lead, where a feint air current could be felt. This will be left on the back-burner for the while. We returned, up the climbs, to re-join the rest of the team clearing the alcove. Beyond the alcove is a narrow 'draughting' rift, it is this we are trying to regain access to.

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Wookey Hole, Mendip

field notes 2018Posted by Vince Simmonds Fri, February 16, 2018 09:06:49
15th February 2018: with Jake, Jonathon, Tav, Roz, Duncan and Mike M.

Good to have a project in mind and make a return to the quest in Wookey 20. Duncan and Max Fisher, on a diving trip into 24, have followed a dry rift passage for c.10m to a constriction, beyond, the rift appears to continue. They plan to return with caving kit and pursue the rift further.

On the way-up through Wookey 20, it was noticeable that there was plenty of water after the recent wet weather. We were not surprised to find that the 'sand dig' was occupied by a deep pool of water. We collected the tools and equipment required for the mission and made our way to the descending rift that leads to Sump twenty-three and three-quarters, passing a group from Cheddar Caving Group for a second time.

A short drop down the rift, we arrived at the site of interest, a small alcove we had previously backfilled while widening the rift to the sump, we had commented at the time that, "we will probably be digging this all-out in a couple of years", and so we are. We made a small dimple in the spoil stash but, all too soon, it was time to vacate the cave. We shall return.

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Wookey Hole, Mendip

field notes 2017Posted by Vince Simmonds Wed, November 08, 2017 06:20:56

The main purpose of the trip was to check-out the current state of the dig in Chamber 20. After the recent rain, I wasn't surprised to find that the dig was still underwater.

But, I did take the opportunity to spend some time admiring some of the fine formations that can be seen in this cave passage.These formations are formed by the precipitation of carbonate that is in solution in water, the energy of water can also lead to natural sculpting of the rock.

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