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The trials and tribulations during the quest to extend the known cave passages of Wookey Hole Cave, Mendip, Somerset.

The main protagonists, in no particular order, have been: Vince Simmonds, Jonathon Riley, Robin 'Tav' Taviner, Nick Hawkes, Graham 'Jake' Johnson, Mike Moxon, Paul 'Brockers' Brock, Duncan Price and Roz Simmonds. Others have lent a hand too, including Tom Chapman, Ray Deasy, Alex Gee, Pete 'Snablet' McNab, Pete Bolt, Claire Cohen, Pete Hall, David Walker, Lee Hawkeswell, James Begley, Naomi Frazier, Estelle Sandford, Max Fisher, Adele Ward, Lee Smith, Chris Dubery and the Belgians (seven members of the Cascade Caving Club).

29th October

digging 2019 Posted on Wed, October 30, 2019 20:42:25

Report by Vince

Vince, Jake, Jon, Tav, Roz, Duncan, Mike, Estelle and Chris Dubery.

Lots of people this evening, the flotsam and jetsam from another flooded dig!

We decided to move from the usual Thursday evening slot because we thought there might be some event in the caves on Hallowe’en night, that said, the car park was very busy tonight.

The focus of the session had been to build a retaining wall and a raised platform at the current end of the dig. This, an effort to contain any future flooding. Due to the number of participants the plans were tweaked a little.

Chris, as tonight’s guest, was dispatched up the ladder with a spade and a supply of empty buckets, the ladder was then removed. It gets in the way. Jake and Vince set about retrieving some of the large boulders we knew were buried in the pile of spoil, somewhere. These would be required to construct the retaining wall.

Tav was clearing away the filled buckets, while nursing a sore shoulder, the buckets were passed across the pit to Estelle, then to Jon who was loading them into skip. The loaded skip was hauled away and the contents of the buckets emptied on to the spoil heap by Mike, Duncan and Roz. It was a productive session, everyone was busy. It’s not certain if anyone was really keeping an accurate tally but 66 was mentioned.

There was a bit more water than expected so the evenings tasks were made a little more arduous due to a liberal coating of slippery mud.

Anyway, the boulders were set free from their temporary grave, some proved a little more difficult than others and required a combined effort to coax them free of the muddy grip. These boulders enabled the retainer wall to be built to the perceived required height. All we need to do now is to backfill the space created and raise the platform. Hopefully, this will be achieved before anymore heavy rain comes along!  

24th October

digging 2019 Posted on Fri, October 25, 2019 06:50:33

Report by Vince.

Vince, Jake and Mike.

After a week off due to adverse conditions, a scratch team assembled, numbers depleted by ongoing maladies and work commitments in foreign places. The main purpose of this evenings foray was to check the water levels in the sand pit.

As we progressed through the cave it was noted that many of the drips, trickles and small streams that were present a couple of weeks ago had reduced, receded or stopped completely.

On arrival at the dig we were pleased to find that the dig was dry, just a shiny layer of slop where the last of the water had drained away. There was some material that had slumped from the wall.

Jake digging

Jake climbed the ladder into the space we had entered 03/10/19 and the small bull-nose spade was passed to him and he began to dig. Some boulders were soon removed, and a spoil heap began to accrue in the chamber below. Mike and Vince made a valiant effort to remove some of the spoil up to the heap, but it wasn’t an easy task. It was very sticky and slippery climbing out of the sand pit with full buckets. But progress was made, our refreshments later had been worked for. A positive evening.

10th October

digging 2019 Posted on Fri, October 11, 2019 06:27:26

Report by Vince.

Vince, Jon, Jake, Duncan, Mike’s back after injuring himself, Nick and Tav.

We thought the water levels might be interesting this evening after heavy rain over the last few days. Walking to the cave entrance the River Axe was in full spate; a lot of water was coming from the resurgence. Throughout the cave there were drips and trickles where they hadn’t been seen before and we had a small stream for company in places.

At the dig we were not surprised to find a considerable depth of water flooding the dig at the bottom of the sand pit. A tentative effort was made by some to get a better look, but the consensus was, not worth getting that wet!

Digging was impossible so we mooched around the cave for a while looking at the water levels before going to the pub earlier than usual.

Duncan tests the depth of water.

3rd October

digging 2019 Posted on Fri, October 04, 2019 06:52:48

Report by Vince.

Vince, Jake, Jon, Nick and Duncan. Duncan had recruited some guest diggers from the North, Adele Ward and Lee Smith.

Initially, a trip to assess the water level in the dig as it has been raining quite a lot. I had my camera and UV light to take some fluorescence images, just in case. The flow of water in the cave was noticeable, the cascade was especially active.

At the dig, rather surprisingly the water appeared to have receded [slightly]. There had, of course, been some slumping, mostly clay/silt/sand but some boulders too. We decided that, as we were there anyway, we should clear some of the slumped material, and there was enough of us to get the buckets away.

There was an intriguing trickle of water coming down from the roof, this appears to have been the cause of the slumping. A cluster of fractured, loose rock was poked and became dislodged. A bar pushed into the wet, softer allowed an increased flow of water. Pushing the bar in further indicated there was some open space beyond. Some more poking resulted in more slumping, quite a lot of splashing and more space was revealed. It was getting exciting. The ladder was called for to make digging a bit easier, rather than being at arm’s length, and to remove a couple of obstinate boulders. Ladder in place the offending rocks were eventually prised free, more splashing and access into space beyond was opening. It looked enticing and there was fresh air movement too. Managed to wriggle up into the small “chamber”, sticky clay floor, some pools of water, the source of the trickle, but not quite enough space to see the full extent of what lies ahead. More digging required. Nick and Adele had a look too. Time had moved on quickly as it does when you’re enjoying yourselves, there were calls of “pub-time” from other team members, so we left it at that for tonight. Moved the tools and buckets to a safer location and departed. A very good and fun evening.

Didn’t get around to taking any photographs.

26th September

digging 2019 Posted on Fri, September 27, 2019 06:42:43

Report by Vince.

Vince, Jake, Jon, Nick and Tav.

It’s been raining, quite hard at times, for the last week or so. There was some discussion as to the consequences of this, Hallowe’en Rift had still been dry and mostly drip free on Tuesday evening. The trip up through the passage off Chamber 20 revealed that water was flowing in several places.

Approaching the dig, it was noted that the aven had water cascading down and the small tube it drains into was overflowing. Generally, this is not a good sign and so it proved to be, the dig was flooded to a considerable depth. Digging was impossible. We managed to rescue the tools and extract a couple of large boulders that had slumped in. we decided to spend the evening on some spoil space management, we found some rocks and built some walls. We just need the dig to dry so that we can fill the spaces we created.

We did, however, keep ourselves amused for the evening before we went to the pub!

19th September

digging 2019 Posted on Fri, September 20, 2019 06:28:42

Report by Vince.

Vince, Jake, Jon and Tav.

Tav digging, although weary after a day spent trudging around Ebbor Gorge guiding Mendip Cave Rescue to the various cave and mine entrances. It was Vince’s turn to ‘bag a munro’ clearing away the filled buckets from Tav, climbing out of the pit and loading the skip. Jon was hauling the skip, occasionally lubricating the slope with a frugal splash of water, unloading the buckets or rocks, to be carted away by Jake. The filled buckets and infrequent rocks were added to the spoil heap or wall as necessary, the buckets then scraped clean and returned, the process repeated. 54 skip-loads were dispatched and dealt with, there was no discrimination between filled buckets and the occasional rock in the final count.

It was warm work and refreshments later at the Hunter’s Lodge Inn were well earnt!

12th September

digging 2019 Posted on Fri, September 13, 2019 05:54:23

Report by Vince

Vince, Jake and Tav.

Jake digging, Tav clearing the filled buckets, Vince was on spoil dispersal. Tav reckoned he “bagged a Munro” with the number of times he had to climb to the top of the pit carrying the filled buckets to load into the skip. The space we had to dump spoil when there is a smaller team is rapidly diminishing too.

We were far too busy for the usual chatter and no-one counted the buckets either, but they kept coming until it was time to leave!

5th September

digging 2019 Posted on Fri, September 06, 2019 06:24:11

Report by Vince

Vince, Tav, Jake and Mike. Duncan was also present although he had another little project to attend.

Vince digging, Tav clearing, Jake and Mike were organising the spoil disposal. Mike also got a side project underway, more space creation. There was a lot chattering and discussion regarding the sediment layers and time passed quickly. Another productive session.

This evenings load number was 42. According to Douglas Adams’ Hitch-hikers Guide to the Galaxy: “42 is the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything.”

NOTE: there have been other digging sessions during August but no reports have been added or recieved!

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