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digwookeyhole

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).

Wookey 20 to 24, the connection!

digging 2020 Posted on Wed, November 11, 2020 05:49:54

The expansion of the Wookey Hole showcave by a driven tunnel into Wookey 20 was completed in 2015. The tunnel allowed easy access to the cave passages beyond by ‘dry’ cavers, more specifically to ‘diggers’ eager to check out the potential leads. In late 2015, the regular diggers at Hallowe’en Rift were invited to take a look at a lead on the east side of the far reaches of Wookey 20. This route had been explored by divers, Tom Chapman and Keith Savory, in the 1990s to a low and too tight arch. There followed a period of expansion and induced rapid speleogenesis culminating in about 70m of gnarly passage gained and leading to another sump, named ‘23¾’, linking to the Sting Corner area in Wookey 24. Diving continues in this area.

In early August 2020, another project was set in motion by the regular team of Wookey Hole diggers in a small side passage off the route that leads down to sump 23¾. Following a collaboration between divers and diggers to establish a voice connection and pinpoint the best location, an intense digging effort of almost non-stop activity, finally, on the evening of October 29th 2020, a ‘non-diving dry’ route from Wookey 20 to Wookey 24 was completed by Vince Simmonds, Nick Hawkes, Duncan Price, Graham Johnson and Mike Moxon. The route, following the small side passage off the route to sump 23¾, connects to the recently discovered extension, Beginner’s Luck, above the streamway found by divers, Connor Roe, Duncan Price and Max Fisher, leads down a steep descent into the Wookey 24 stream passage. The route is physically demanding, especially on the return, and has some difficult, awkward climbs.

A few days later, the English government plunged everyone into a second lockdown and our activities were, somewhat curtailed. This also meant that several of the regular diggers, absent on the breakthrough, had not yet passed the connection to Wookey 24. We are still in lockdown!

Subsequently, a disappointing and blatant “poacher’s” trip to the connection has occurred. Video clips of the trip were posted, then removed, there was some negative feedback posted on various platforms along with a lot of bullshit and bollocks being uttered. It is categorically stated here that none of the participants involved on this “poacher’s” trip were, or have ever, been involved with any of the digging activities to make the connection to Wookey 24 or any of the other recent discoveries in Wookey 20 (Land of Hope and Glory) and any inferences of such is just not true!

Update: There was a rapid response to this post, a dialogue ensued and an apology has been received. It still rankles, but the clock can’t be turned back and we need to move on rather than enter an endless cycle of recriminations and finger-wagging. A line has been drawn under it.



3rd November

digging 2020 Posted on Wed, November 04, 2020 06:28:47

Vince, Jake, Nick and Duncan.

A clean-up trip and a better look around “Beginner’s Luck”.

Jake enters “Beginner’s Luck”
…closely followed by Nick



“Land of Hope and Glory”

digging 2020 Posted on Wed, September 23, 2020 06:40:09

First entered on 15th September 2020. Also, the 80th anniversary of the “Battle of Britain”.

Nick negotiates “Fuzzy Wuzzy”
It goes! (L to R: Duncan, Jake, Nick and Jon, Tav is ahead and Vince took the photo)
Jon looks back towards the climb.
A lofty rift passage leads north…
…into an impressive rift chamber (view to west).
The big rift chamber (view to east)
Rillenkarst
Banded calcite
Dog-tooth spar
Mineral deposition
Mud cone formations


25th August, and it’s my 64th birthday!

digging 2020 Posted on Wed, August 26, 2020 07:16:52

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

We split into two units, Tav and Jake went to dig the “top o’ pit”, the rest of us headed to “23 and a bit”.

The recent wet weather has had a dramatic affect both in and out of the cave, the resurgence was flowing strongly. Throughout the cave there were plenty of drips, the trickling stream was flowing through Chamber 20 and water pouring down the calcite cascades. Very impressive. The climbs down through “23 and a bit” to the dig were wet too.

Vince at the top of the climbs. Photo by Roz Simmonds 25/08/2020


20th August

digging 2020 Posted on Fri, August 21, 2020 06:34:50

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

Jake wrestles with an obstructing boulder.

The boulder removed, I swapped places with Jake, dug out some mud, some cobble- and boulder-sized lumps of rock and calcite then wriggled through into a small chamber, c.2m (h) x 3m (max. l) x c.1m (max. w), at first it appeared to be formed within a calcite vein but, more likely, it is part of a Neptunian dyke. A Carboniferous limestone fissure filled with Triassic [dolomitic] conglomerate that has degraded leaving the void that I was now standing in. Remnants of the conglomerate infill can be seen in the roof.



13th August

digging 2020 Posted on Sun, August 16, 2020 08:39:05

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

Duncan (l) and Jake (r) digging into the phreatic “tube”
Nick investigates a potential lead at the top of the “pit”


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.



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