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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, Mandy Voysey, David Walker, Lee Hawkeswell, James Begley, Naomi Frazier, Estelle Sandford, Max Fisher, Adele Ward, Lee Smith, Chris Dubery, Connor Roe and the Belgians (seven members of the Cascade Caving Club).

6th August

digging 2020 Posted on Fri, August 07, 2020 06:32:19

Vince, Duncan, Jon, Mike, Nick and Tav.

Back to the main dig!

Various activities were undertaken; Nick and Jon raced ahead to get to work in the “pit”, Duncan paid some attention to the alternative “phreatic tube”, Mike performed ladder antics while investigating roof tubes, Tav was ferrying filled buckets “hither and thither”. I was wall-building and attending to spoil disposal before being distracted and going to look at the “phreatic tube” which is beginning to appear more interesting. Space can be seen. Nick came to have a dig too.

Unfortunately, progress downwards in the “pit” seems to have pinched-out and probably not worth pursuing any further (at present). Never mind, it will make a nice water feature later in the year! A rethink will be needed here. In the meantime, we have the “phreatic tube” to follow and see how that develops.

Refreshments, and discussions, were taken in the ravine although the light was fading. We were a bit later than usual. Another jovial session.

4th August

digging 2020 Posted on Wed, August 05, 2020 06:27:09

Vince, Duncan, Tav, Nick and Luke (?)

A trip down memory lane, or part way to sump 23 3/4, to refresh our thoughts. It was a fine caving trip, an enjoyable excursion.

30th July

digging 2020 Posted on Fri, July 31, 2020 06:29:20

Vince, Jake, Jon, Nick, Tav and Mike.

Nick and Jon rotated the digging in the “deep pit”, Mike had a tentative poke around in an alternative location. Tav poked and prodded the spoil into every ‘nook and cranny’ with, mostly, Jake supplying the filled buckets to him. I was helping with bucket removal but got too easily side-tracked into building another spoil retaining wall and squashed a finger into the bargain!

In the deep pit, Nick located a possible way ahead, but it appears solidly choked at present, Mike’s ‘alternative’ is still worth pursuing to get a better look, it might develop into something, especially after the effort expelled in removing a rather large boulder that Jon eventually was able to reduce to manageable lumps, some fine wall-building material. It turned out to be another satisfying evening’s work.

28th July

digging 2020 Posted on Wed, July 29, 2020 06:07:13

Vince, Jake, Tav, Mike, Jon, Nick, and Duncan.

We are Six!

Jake, Tav and Mike alternated the digging activities while the rest of us were largely responsible for spoil management to varying degrees.

Jake removed some of the protruding limestone blocks with some vigorous swings of the large sledgehammer, this resulted in more space for digging and some decent rock for wall-building in the spoil disposal area. Unfortunately, as the evening progressed the dig began to appear less promising as more and more solid rock was encountered. As the filling of buckets was slower there were a number of alternative digging locations looked at including an interesting tube quite close to the point of entry into the chamber. However, there is still plenty to do and there are other developments that might require some serious attention.

23rd July

digging 2020 Posted on Fri, July 24, 2020 06:31:07

Vince, Nick, Jon, Duncan, Jake, Mike and Tav.

Nick, Jon, and Duncan rotated the digging duties, I was shuttling the filled buckets through the chamber to be emptied in the lower intermediate spoil dump where Mike and Tav were attending to spoil management. Jake was busy cleaning the ladder, in case it is required later, when done he joined the spoil disposal activities.

At the dig, downwards progress was slowed due to a rock encounter. Some, potentially, large blocks of rock were being exposed. The way forward appears to be diminishing, which is disappointing. More sediment needs clearing away to be certain, but time ran out this session. A downwards direction still seems to remain the best option. We will have to deal with the rocks as and when necessary, there are a number of methods that can be employed, including plug and feathers, capping, or the application of IRS. We will have a better idea after the next couple of sessions.

It was a bit damp during the après dig refreshments in the ravine.

21st July

digging 2020 Posted on Wed, July 22, 2020 06:30:36

Vince, Jake, Mike, Tav, Jon, Nick, and Duncan.

We’re ‘making hay while the sun shines’ and following-up on Nick’s suggestion by having a Tuesday evening digging session. Duncan went off to 23¾ to check out something while the rest of us went digging.

As usual we arrived at the dig warm and no time to cool down, I was straight into digging. I was going to get very warm swinging the mattock and filling buckets with the loosened sediment. After 20 minutes or so it was time to cool down and Jake took over digging duties. Jake continued where I had left off until he too became overheated and it was Mike’s turn for a while, then it was Tav before I returned for the final stint. Down in the lower, intermediate spoil dump, Jon and Nick were coping admirably with spoil management.

The majority of spoil removed was a varying mixture of clay, silt, and sand ranging in colour from light red to brown becoming light creamy brown and bright yellow. There are distinct layers throughout where the sediment has settled, presumably following flood events. Good progress was made in a downwards direction. In the later stage of the session some sub angular to subrounded cobbles and boulders were encountered, these showed signs of continuing erosion by aggressive water/moisture. A few rocks were removed but others remain in situ until Thursday evening’s session. It is certainly looking interesting at present.

As ever when all are busy time seems to pass quickly and the session came to an end. We moved the tools out of the way and made our way out of the cave.

It had been warm work and refreshments at the entrance were welcome. We took the opportunity to discuss the evening’s activities and to plan for Thursday. Happy days!

16th July

digging 2020 Posted on Fri, July 17, 2020 06:21:47

Vince, Jake, Jon, Tav, Nick and Duncan.

Duncan went off to ’23 and whatever’ to do his own thing. The rest of us went digging.

Jon, Tav and Nick rotated the digging and shuttling of filled buckets across the chamber. Jake and me, were on spoil management duties. The filled buckets were transferred, by me, from the chamber to the lower intermediate spoil stashing location where Jake emptied the buckets and stuffed the sediment into all available nooks and crannies. Basically, backfilling the spot he had been digging before Jon dug into the chamber above. We need as much spoil disposal space as can be utilised.

It was a busy session and good progress made in a downward direction. It was reported that there are some encouraging signs beginning to develop, or so it is hoped.

Après dig drinks and debrief were enjoyed in the Wookey Hole ravine. It was a pleasantly warm evening.

9th July

digging 2020 Posted on Fri, July 10, 2020 07:01:57

We’re back and we have been busy!

Vince, Roz, Jake, Nick, Duncan, Tav and Mike.

As has become the norm we met in the village and got changed at the cave.

It was the usual warm trip through the cave to the dig. Jake was first to arrive, so he was elected to dig (by me, no-one else was there yet anyway). I started to clear the filled buckets away when Nick turned up to help followed by Roz. Nick came forward and was delegated ‘step digger’ and a bucket platform was required. Unfortunately, Jake was digging down faster than the steps were being cut. It is a deep hole and it get’s noticeably deeper every digging session. Some interesting sediment layers were the subject of discussion and speculation.

All too soon it was time to leave, the last bucket filled, tools stashed out of harm’s way and off we went. Comments were made on the fine spoil retaining wall as we passed.

At the entrance, we changed, refreshments retrieved from cooling in the leat and some chill-out time ensued. It’s very peaceful in the Wookey Hole ravine in the late evening.

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