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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.

17th March

digging 2022 Posted on 18 March 2022 10:44 am

Report by Tav:

Jake, Nick, Tav, Matt and Mandy Voysey

A good-sized team headed to the dig face to resume chiselling along the narrowing mineral vein. The exercise was becoming increasingly futile and drilling achieved only a further one and a half buckets of Wookey diamonds before a halt was called to proceedings. With no way on ahead or to the sides the only possible way on could be down so Jake began probing the floor, eventually finding a mud filled hole which began to undercut. By the close of play 20 buckets had been removed and Matt reported dampness at the bottom of the hole. Time will tell and more thought will need to be given to spoil removal and retention as it’s a long way to the top of the slope.”

3rd March

digging 2022 Posted on 6 March 2022 8:47 am

Report by Tav:

Nick, Tav & Alex Randall 

While Tav gave Alex a quick guided tour of LoHG, Nick headed to the face to begin chiselling. Alex joined him and with Tav hauling, by close of play 10 more hard won buckets of diamonds and mud had been removed and emptied. The way on remains extremely constricted. A lot of water clearly once passed this way so hopefully this is only a temporary state of affairs.”

3rd February

digging 2022 Posted on 4 February 2022 6:28 am

Vince, Jake, Nick, and Tav

Nick brought along his 36v cordless drill; me, I had a bag full of hand tools. The team assembled and set-off to the cave.

At the dig Nick, Jake and Tav headed along to the current end while I concentrated on widening the slot above the spoil heap. It quickly became clear that my attempts were going to prove fruitless and another, more dramatic, solution might be required, some food for thought. I joined the others.

Progress at the current end of the dig can be described as slow but steady, the constriction is slowly succumbing to the continuous chiselling there are some sediment-filled voids which aid progress; and the air quality remains good. The sediment is loosely packed and claggy, every now and then an air-filled void is encountered. We remain optimistic!

27th January

digging 2022 Posted on 28 January 2022 4:23 pm

Vince, Tav, Nick, and Jake

Assembled at the allotted time in a rather crowded car park (filming somewhere?) armed with drills of various descriptions and different tasks to undertake. Nick with his Makita 36v headed along to the current end of the dig to continue “diamond” mining with Tav, it’s just a tad constricted. Jake installed a drainage pipe into the lower spoil disposal zone to allow percolation of water coming from the upper-level pool. Me, armed with my Einhell 18v and a set of plugs and feathers, set about trying to widen access to an interesting looking slot above the [upper] spoil heap. It seemed simple enough, a bit awkward to get up to it, but doable. Unfortunately, things didn’t go according to plan and has to be marked down as a failure. Plugs and feathers were ineffectual in splitting the mineral vein, need to have a rethink. Packed my kit away and went along to see how the others were progressing. The passage is certainly wider on the approach to the dig-face, but the end is still constricted. Some more drill and hammer work to be done yet. Progress looks like it will slow for a while, plenty of time to work on widening the slot above the spoil heap. I will need to purchase some nice shiny tools for the job!

9 buckets of “diamonds” and 5 buckets of ‘mud’, 14 is one-third of 42, the answer to everything!

20th January

digging 2022 Posted on 21 January 2022 1:38 pm

Report by Tav:

“Three members of the team (Jake, Mike, Tav) arrived on a chilly night to continue ‘Operation Chisel.’ Armed with four freshly charged batteries, battle commenced and taking it in turns by close of play a further six tub-loads of ‘Wookey diamonds’ had been extracted, making a noticeable difference to both the width of the approach passage and the obstinate ‘Durdle Door’ lump in the floor (now minus said door!). 

Although neatly sandwiched between two primes (5 and 7), six is obviously not a prime number in itself. However, being the sum and product of three consecutive positive integers (1,2 and 3), a natural number (cardinal and ordinal), a composite number and the first discrete biprime (the product of the primes 2 and 3), the team felt it met Jon’s minimum mathematical standard and indeed positively trumped it given that six is also a perfect number (a positive integer equal to the sum of its positive divisors excluding itself). In any case it was gone nine and the team were well into overtime.  

With both strategic and mathematical requirements satisfactorily met, the team exited the cave to a frigid ravine echoing to the stentorian shrieks of Strix aluco.”

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

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