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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 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.

13th January

digging 2022 Posted on 16 January 2022 6:19 am

Report by Tav:

“Wookey Report – 13.01.2022 

Three members (Tav Jake, and Nick)of the team turned up primed for action, which, as luck would have it, proved to be exactly the right number for the evening’s activities, as well as a prime. With access to the dig face currently restricted by a crystalline pinch point and floor lump, a change of tactics was called for and Nick and Tav arrived suitably tooled up, bringing a hammer drill and associated bits and a new heavy duty point chisel respectively. Jake brought his work trousers and polystyrene knee pads. With slow progress anticipated all three headed to the face, each taking a turn with the drill which proved to be very effective. Once the batteries ran out the point chisel was deployed, which was also effective, albeit slower, and by the end of the night, seven, prime tub loads of ‘Wookey diamonds’ had been chiselled out of the offending blockages, which brought a noticeable difference to proceedings. A repeat performance next week should bring even more improvements to access to the ongoing and heavily scalloped rift. Well satisfied with their night’s work the team emerged to a cold crisp night, devoid of owls.” 

6th January

digging 2022 Posted on 8 January 2022 8:49 am

Report by Jon:

“On a wet evening, Jake, Tav, Jon and Nick assembled in a busy car park, ready for digging activities. A Wookey Hole event was about to commence. At the cave the four were joined by Duncan, self-certified to be on light duties.

Wookey Hole – 6th January 2022

Duncan carried out surveying activities while the rest of the Team proceeded to the dig face.

Nick dug, assisted by Tav; Jon hauled; Jake sorted and stacked the spoil.

The digging remains difficult; plenty of gravel was hauled. On the positive side, there were reports of a draught.

Having missed a couple of sessions, Jon was intrigued to find that the Team had moved on from counting in prime numbers, or identifying the prime factors, and were now quoting sums of primes. This evening, Jake kept a bucket tally and reported that 25½ buckets of spoil were removed. That draws a line under mathematical observations…

…except that twice the bucket count is 51. My 51st year was an interesting one, to say the least…

The Team emerged from the cave under a very wet sky and returned to the car park just in time for rush hour. The owls were sleeping.”

Comment by Tav:

(17 x 3) / 2 = 25.5. All prime numbers. Well done Jon. I knew you wouldn’t let us down.”

30th December

digging 2021 Posted on 31 December 2021 9:12 am

Vince, Brockers, Jake, Nick, Tav, [Duncan arrived later to continue survey in showcave]

It has been a long time since Brockers joined a digging session in Wookey Hole, as guest of ‘honour’ this evening he was duly dispatched to the front to dig, not an easy task as it turned out. The end is rather constricted, obstructed by deposits of mineralisation, making excavation awkward and protracted, we will get through it, eventually. I was next in line clearing away the filled buckets and, in between, battering a lump of mineral vein in the floor with a sledgehammer. Unfortunately for Nick, he was stuck in ‘no-mans land’ without tools or any place for him to dig, just waiting for a bucket to arrive. Jake and Tav were busy on spoil management, emptying the buckets when they turned up and creating more space for ongoing redistribution of sediment. Still, it was an enjoyable evening.

We met Duncan in the entrance tunnel where he had been tidying up the cave survey. Together, we enjoyed refreshments in the ravine and reflected on the evening’s digging and plans for the day’s ahead.

Brockers as featured in a recent Finnish magazine. Article by Duncan Simey

23rd December

digging 2021 Posted on 24 December 2021 11:08 am

Vince, Jake, Tav, Nick, Will (Nick’s nephew), and Duncan

Due to an unforeseen circumstance, no digging was possible this evening.

16th December

digging 2021 Posted on 19 December 2021 8:27 am

Report by Jon:

“Tav, Nick and Jon were this week joined by Jake, freed from his satanic duties. Tav, as the evening’s key holder, had warned of another late start but the Team headed off to the cave only a few minutes later than usual.

There was another delay while Jake tried to get his lamp to work. The problem was diagnosed as the batteries. Tav saved the evening by offering up his spare.

At the dig face, the extra pair of hands was used at the spoil heap. Following the usual rotation, Tav dug, Jon hauled and Nick emptied, with assistance from Jake.

With no planning or intent, a very satisfactory 23 buckets were again removed before the Team departed.

Tav left the cave in darkness, his battery exhausted, and recounted his efforts that evening – digging with two feet above his head. The others remain unsure about that one!

Once again we left the site to the sound of a non-sleeping owl.”

Let sleeping owls lie!

9th December

digging 2021 Posted on 11 December 2021 8:34 am

Report by Jon:

“The Team comprised only Jon, Tav and Nick again this week. Excuses for absence included undertaking archaeological work of national importance in a newly discovered cave to “being on Lucifer duty”. One member was also delayed because of a prior engagement – a festive cheese and wine gathering. However, digging always prevails and the Team gathered at the appointed place, albeit later than usual.

At the dig face, Nick dug, Tav hauled and Jon emptied. The late start limited what could be achieved, but a pleasing 23 buckets were dug; pleasing because it is a prime number.

The Team returned to the cave entrance with the majority expecting a cheese and wine offering. There was none.

After a beer, all departed to the sound of an owl hooting. This one was definitely not sleeping.”

2nd December

digging 2021 Posted on 4 December 2021 3:53 pm

Reported by Jon:

Only three of the team (Jon, Tav, and Nick) were available on a cold December evening. However, the team set off determined to prove that the current dig can be worked by only three. The trip through the cave was an opportunity to warm up. There has been little rain and the cave remains dry.

At the dig face, Jon dug and filled buckets, Nick hauled and Tav emptied.

No onward development was made; effort focused on clearing out the approach to the dig face.

Tav counted the buckets, so we have a reliable number. 26 buckets were filled, hauled and emptied. There was much discussion as to whether or not this was a good number. Tav prefers even numbers and had a preference to stop at a satisfactory two dozen. Nevertheless he would have accepted 25 (as a quarter of 100) or 27 (apparently lucky). Nick just wanted to sneak in a couple of extras (and did so). Jon prefers odd numbers and ideally prime ones. We settled on 26, because of time constraints or, indeed, overtime. The good news is that 26 is 2 times 13, both of which are prime.

However, the number of the evening was 3. The dig can be worked with 3.

18th November

digging 2021 Posted on 24 November 2021 5:39 pm

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

Nick digging assisted by me, Tav was hauling the skip, then Duncan (I think!) was next in line, leaving Jake and Mike to sort out the spoil dumping.

Usual stuff – sediment loosened, buckets filled, passed along the rift. Emptied and returned. Repeated lots of times. As is the norm, good steady forward progress and it is still warm work!

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