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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 Callum Simmonds, 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, Will (Nick's nephew) and the Belgians (seven members of the Cascade Caving Club).

Above: the banner image, 'Mud cones in Land of Hope & Glory' was taken by Mark Burkey.

23rd June

digging 2022 Posted on 25 June 2022 4:13 pm

Duncan and Nick with Tav and Jake

Work continues along the constricted mineral vein. The last application of chemically induced speleogenesis was cleared and the area worked at with hammer and chisel. Further persuasive techniques were applied this evening. Tav and Jake entertained themselves elsewhere.

7th June

digging 2022 Posted on 8 June 2022 11:20 am

Report by Duncan (edited)

“Duncan, and Nick with Wayne Starsmore, Claire Cohen, Connor Roe

Duncan & Nick went to clear the results of induced rapid speleogenesis, first, the wire was reeled in.  The bang had turned the calcite to gravel which was easy to clear.  More widening will be required though a go with a chisel first.  A hole in the floor a little way back down from the end was opened up with a view down a narrow rift.  This might be easier to reach by tunnelling under the false floor. The tourists joined in until the handle of the little pick broke.  Refreshments were taken in the ravine until it came on to rain so we drank up and went home.”

19th May

digging 2022 Posted on 20 May 2022 10:07 am

Report by Tav:

Mike, Jake, Tav

A good start was made on excavating the mud bank in the pit at the top of the big rift. Retaining walls were constructed and the mud relocated some metres downslope. There’s a lot of mud to shift so it will keep us busy on those nights when we’re not able to pursue the diamond mine rift. The air in this area still seems very fresh so time will tell. The cave lights were on when we arrived so it was interesting to see Chamber 20 under show cave conditions. We agreed that they’d done a pretty good job. 

Sadly, the evening finished on a sour note for on our return to the car park we discovered that some bastard’s had nicked Jake’s bike. We informed the hotel and went home.”

12th May

digging 2022 Posted on 20 May 2022 10:04 am

Reports by Tav:

Nick, Dunc, Jake and Tav 

A welcome return for Nick, happily with all of his fingers intact. Several jobs were accomplished. Nick went to inspect the pit to satisfy himself that it wasn’t a viable way on. He then turned his attention to the dwindling passage straight ahead and managed to open up a small hole. Conditions are very cramped and the appliance of some rapid speleogenesis is required here. The way on remains viable but will be hard won. With the aid of the ladder Duncan stuck his go pro into the hole above the spoil heap, revealing pretty much solid rock all around (see below). Meanwhile Jake and Tav investigated the extension’s various other possible options, and both concurred that the pit at the top of the big chamber remains the most interesting. This has been looked at briefly before but a more substantive dig to remove the left hand side of mud bank is worth pursuing to see if continuance to the east or preferably to the north lies underneath the mud which has clearly fallen from the roof. The draught seems strongest here and there are some indications that water once flowed from this location but the evidence is not conclusive. On the plus side, there is ample stacking space and the right-hand side of the mud bank can be preserved for posterity. The plan now is to proceed with both digs and two further very narrow ‘open’ rifts await the Voysey’s inspection.     

5th May

Tav, Jake, Mandy, Matt, Dunc and Mike 

A strong turnout for what was anticipated to be a last-ditch attempt at the pit in the floor. Tav’s turn to dig in the increasingly squalid conditions. 20+ tubs removed which as anticipated revealed no viable way on. The draught and the scalloping both appear to be passing above the pit into the dwindling passage straight ahead. The ladder extension proved very useful.” 

21st April

digging 2022 Posted on 24 April 2022 10:04 am

Report by Tav:

Dunc, Tav, Jake, Nick 

Following last weeks efforts, the team arrived at the dig face fully expecting to be greeted with a puddle of water. And we were not disappointed! With Dunc digging, Tav on the perch, Jake hauling and Nick disposing, the team set about removing the puddle, followed by 30 buckets of slop/mud. By close of play a ‘solid’ floor of compacted material had been reached with water welling up through the cracks. The only viable option left seems to be back towards the entrance and one more session should be enough to decide whether or not this particular passage is still worth pursuing.”  

14th April

digging 2022 Posted on 15 April 2022 10:49 am

Report by Tav:

Nick, Dunc, Jake and Tav 

The four headed for the dig face armed with bags and two short sections of Jake’s ladder. It was Nick’s turn to dig and he was greeted with a disappointing puddle of murky water which had accumulated in the rift over the course of a week. A few distinctly gloopy loads were manhandled up the climb to Duncan and on to Tav who was hauling and finally to Jake who was disposing of the spoil. Gradually things dried out and by close of play, 37 prime loads of silty fill had been added to the burgeoning spoil heap in the pot. The only apparent way on continues to be down and it seems likely that an even bigger puddle might be present next week, which at least solves the squeegee bottle water shortage problem!”

7th April

digging 2022 Posted on 11 April 2022 11:41 am

Report by Tav:

Jake, Nick and Tav.
With Jake digging, Nick hauling and Tav on spoil disposal, 30 more buckets of moist, loose fill were removed from the deepening rift. Jake reported water seeping from the left-hand wall which is undercutting. Still no sign of a floor. Jake also reported that a ladder was now needed as it is becoming very difficult to climb out!”    

24th March

digging 2022 Posted on 25 March 2022 9:45 am

Report by Tav

“Tav digging, Mike hauling and Jake on spoil disposal. Work continued on the descending hole opened up last week. 22 buckets of soft, moist fill were removed, still with no sign of a floor. The digging is easy, although clambering out of a 3m deep pit with a fully laden bucket to load the skip is a bit trying. The passage width shows no signs of narrowing and is undercutting the thick mineral deposit blocking the passage in both directions. At this stage it looks more like a previously unseen lower section of the main passage rather than a separate downward development and stands a reasonable chance of passing beneath the obstruction. Not without interest.” 

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