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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,  Connor Roe, 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, 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.

26th July

digging 2022 Posted on 29 July 2022 6:07 am

Report by Duncan:

Duncan, Nick, Tav

“Last week’s efforts had widened the approach and Duncan was able to squeeze into the new bit.  The drill and associated materials were passed though so that three holes could be drilled in the left hand wall (facing in) to remove the squeeze.  Nick and Tav hacked a lot of mud and loose stuff out of the approach – the bulge on the right hand wall further back will be the next target to enable the smooth passage of spoil.”

21st July

digging 2022 Posted on 23 July 2022 2:10 pm

Report by Duncan:

Connor, Tav, and Duncan – three holes drilled in left hand wall of initial squeeze into recent extension of the Diamond Mine dig.  Connor attempted to put some holes in the wall of the next pinch point but found the rock friable and it might be better to attack this with a chisel.  Holes filled and fired.  Meanwhile the Hawkes family (Nick, Jeremey & Tessa) toured LoH&G.  Early finish for drinks in the ravine.”

14th July

digging 2022 Posted on 17 July 2022 9:11 am

Report by Nick:

“Only Graham and Nick attended the weekly meet with various apologies of ‘enforced rest’ from a variety of unknown ‘conditions’ preventing others from joining.

Music along the footpath greeted our arrival although as we approached the entranced the tunes became sinister and disturbing so a quick change was made.

On arrival the cable was coiled and rubble removed revealing enough space (just) for us both to finally pass through to the new extension after some extra digging and drilling. The new ‘few metres’ 2 along and 2+ up, continues to have good scalloping and fresh but not breezy air. It’s not yet a comfortable access route. Further excavation from the far side may succeed in making it a flat entrance but probably a little extra assistance at the very beginning will be required. Ahead the way on may be up or straight ahead.

With no official time available beer o’clock arrived early. The normally happy mellow drinking spot was still a sombre scene as the dark music continued emerging from the evil plastic rocks. The sleeping owls had all left. We didn’t stay long.”

30th June

digging 2022 Posted on 2 July 2022 8:19 am

Report by Connor:

Connor, Duncan, Nick, and Tav

“All successfully make it through the prom event traffic, sadly no opportunities for giggling at teenagers trying to run and get dressed as we exited the cave. 

Duncan entered first clearing out and in inspecting the results of last weeks efforts. Chemical persuasion proved to do a good job. It had taken several inches off along the drill lines, turning most of it to dust! Connor was sent in to see if he could wiggle through, after some more chiselling and mud clearing victory was achieved. A small passage was entered of similar rock and scalloping. Straight ahead a 45 degree mud slop, that has clearly carried water continued for around 3 meters. In the roof a hole was spotted and after examining a draft could be felt from. Nick threw a long crowbar through, and enthusiasm found, more of the mud and rock was cleared. This was just enough for Nick to stick his head through to see the findings. Enlargement of the passage will be needed to allow work to commence on the two new leads.”

Tav did his own thing elsewhere.

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.” 

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