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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, 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).

16th January

digging 2020 Posted on Fri, January 17, 2020 05:56:11

Report by Vince

Vince, Jon, Nick and Mike. Duncan did his own thing again.

Despite the recent heavy rain, the dig wasn’t as wet as expected. There was some water, but we were able to carry on with the digging. Our endeavours to create a platform last week had worked.

Both Jon and I were digging, the loosened spoil put into buckets, the filled receptacles then emptied onto the edges of the platform where it was drier by Nick and Mike. The cleaned buckets were returned. There were trickles of water coming from several locations making the whole excavation process increasingly muddy. As progress was made things became more interesting. That’s the thing with digging, things always look interesting; a small gap opens here and there; what’s happening here? Always something for the inquisitive!

All too soon it was time to finish, a quick tidy-up and we left. On the way up the climb Nick noticed something I’m not certain we’ve looked at, bear it in mind for next time, before we are too muddy.

9th January

digging 2020 Posted on Fri, January 10, 2020 06:33:32

Report by Vince

Vince, Nick, Jon and Mike. Duncan and Connor Roe did their own thing.

It’s been a while, so we thought we’d go and check the water level. There was some torrential rain this afternoon, so we weren’t too confident about the prospects of getting some digging done. However, as we progressed through the cave there were indications that it might not be as wet as expected.

On arrival at the sand pit we were pleased to find that is was dry and we were able to get on with some digging. Nick “the mole” led the way, he’s been out of action for a couple of weeks and was chomping at the bit, Mike was clearing away Nick’s spoil mostly in an effort not to get buried. The spoil was shovelled down onto the accumulating heap. Jon and I spent the evening levelling the spoil and creating a platform. Hopefully, this will enable us to continue digging in wetter conditions, the ladder can be used as a bridge if necessary.

By the end of the session progress had been made and it’s beginning to look rather interesting. A couple more sessions and things might start to become clearer and reveal something positive. We departed, satisfied with a productive evening.

19th December

digging 2019 Posted on Thu, December 19, 2019 22:06:17

Report by Vince

Vince and Jon

There’s been some heavy rain for the last couple of day’s and, as expected the cave was wet. There was plenty of water coming from the resurgence and the trip from Chamber 20 was as wet as I’ve seen it. The sand pit was flooded, we poked around for a while before heading back out of the cave.

It was noted that a lot of water was flowing into the sand pit, but the water level is quite static – the water is going somewhere!

Jon after negotiating the flood, climbs the ladder to the dig.

5th December

digging 2019 Posted on Fri, December 06, 2019 06:36:44

Report by Vince

Vince, Nick and Mike

Me and Nick got changed in the car park before walking up to the cave where we met Duncan, Rob Harper and Roo Walters who was scanning the showcave. Mike, who had been helping them, joined us.

Nick, Mike and me set-off to go digging at the top of Chamber 20. Mike went for a solo effort in the sticky sand dig, me and Nick headed down the rift that leads to sump 23 and ‘whatever’. We planned to have a poke about in a possible lead part way down the rift passage. We spent the session moving rocks and gravel and building a wall to retain the shifted spoil. The only conclusion we reached at this stage was – we needed tools! The whole area draughts quite strongly. All too soon it was time to ascend the rift and meet up with Mike. It’s a good sporty climb back up the rift. And, we were almost clean!

Mike reported that the pile of spoil below the dig is getting bigger and the water had drained away, mostly.

3rd December

digging 2019 Posted on Thu, December 05, 2019 06:23:51

Summary by Vince

Mike and 5no. MCG members

Couldn’t make this evening due to work commitments.

Mike reported “no water at the end of Wookey (or drips coming from ahead). Took a few more inches out.”

28th November

digging 2019 Posted on Fri, November 29, 2019 06:28:36

Summary by Vince

Vince was attending to business in Hallowe’en Rift, continuing the quest for the north-west passage.

Jake, Nick and Mike report that they had a rather aqueous digging session in Wookey Hole. Everyone else, it seems, are saving themselves for Saturday’s session at Hallowe’en!

19th November

digging 2019 Posted on Fri, November 22, 2019 09:03:01

While Vince was beavering away in Hallowe’en Rift applying the next phase of IRS, a team attended to the dig in Wookey Hole. The following summary was provided by Jon:

Report by Jon

“Four regulars, Jake, Jon, Mike and Nick, were joined by Estelle for this evening’s session.

Water levels were low.  The lowest point of the dig was liquid mud rather than water.  The raised area was sticky but rather soft underfoot beyond the ladder. 

Following common practice, the visitor was given the opportunity to dig.  On top of the bank, a shallow trench was dug from the edge across to the far wall.  The wall is continuing down; no bottom edge has yet been encountered.  A rock, possibly boulder, has been partly uncovered near the far wall.

The team attempted to haul the spoil up the slope, but sticky mud and staff numbers made this a little slower than usual.  Some spoil was therefore dumped on the raised platform.

In the absence of the Chief Accountant, the bucket count was somewhat unclear.  It was certainly in double figures.”

12th November

digging 2019 Posted on Wed, November 13, 2019 20:44:51

Vince was in Hallowe’en Rift with Alex Gee carrying out the next phase of IRS. However, a team assembled to continue the digging in Wookey Hole. Jon provided the following account:

Report by Jon.

“Four diggers attended this evening’s session (Nick, Tav, Mike and Jon). 

The evening was quite uneventful.  The team proceeded directly to Sand Dig where they found surprisingly little water.  There were no more than a few inches at the lowest point, but more had ponded up on the new platform, beyond the base of the ladder.  It was decided that the best course of action was to drain this into the lower level.  A narrow trench was dug along the wall on the left-hand side, when looking in, and the water quickly drained.

Mike ascended into the current dig and proceeded to send down 8 or 10 buckets of spoil and threw down many handfuls more.  The others levelled off the platform so that it may drain better next time.

The base of the ladder was re-seated on the few rocks that were dug out; smaller rocks were placed along the side of the trench to keep it open.

A random glance of a watch then revealed that the allotted time had been used, so the team departed and retired to a local hostelry for liquid refreshment.”

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