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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 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.

3rd May

digging 2021 Posted on 5 June 2021 9:22 am

Vince, Callum, Pete Bolt and Tarquin Wilton-Jones.

A trip down to 24 streamway, only looked at the easily accessible section of stream passage due to time constraints. The water levels were low, and the sandy floor exposed for the entire section to the sump pool. Callum remarked later “best trip I’ve ever done”, he really enjoyed the technical aspects.

The digging team, Jake, Tav and Mike, reported a constructive session working on slope stabilisation and spoil disposal areas. All in readiness for the next digging session.



27th May

digging 2021 Posted on 28 May 2021 7:41 am

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

It was warm through the cave beyond Wookey 20, as usual. Picked up the mattock that was leaning against the wall near Fuzzy Wuzzy and proceeded down to the dig. Showed Callum where and what to dig then left him to it, Jake came up to clear away spoil/buckets, me and Nick were shuttling backwards and forwards with the filled/emptied buckets, Mike and Duncan were dealing with spoil management. It was warm work; some people pay for this kind of workout!

When you are busy, time passes quickly, and it was a productive evening. Refreshments in the ravine were well earned and it was very peaceful. And, as ever, it was ‘twat-free’!



20th May

digging 2021 Posted on 21 May 2021 5:57 am

Vince, Callum Simmonds, Pete Bolt, Tarquin Wilton-Jones.

[Diggers: Jake, Nick, Tav, Duncan and Mike]

I took Callum, Pete, and Tarquin for a look around Land of Hope & Glory recounting the story of discovery along the way. It is still less than a year since the breakthrough, time seems to be distorted by the pandemic lockdown. The usual waiting around for photographs but I enjoyed the trip.

After the tour around we joined the digging team and had enough time to collect some rocks to build-up the spoil heap retaining wall. Digging had been productive, “somewhere between 3 and 70 buckets” was reported.

A good evening.



13th May

digging 2021 Posted on 14 May 2021 7:50 am

Vince, Nick, Jake, Tav and Mike,

Working from home today so made it to the Thursday evening digging session. The usual warm trip up from Wookey 20 to Land of Hope & Glory. Straight into the digging continuing the enlargement process, this will facilitate a more comfortable approach to forward progress. The enlargement process at this stage requires the removal of a considerable quantity of sediment, mostly consisting stiff dry friable light yellow brown sandy silt overlying light red to red brown sandy silt, with some laminated layers. At the lowest section of the passage appears to be a band of degraded (?) calcite. It was noted that, considering we were ‘hard at it’ all evening the air quality did not diminish, I even thought the merest waft of air movement could be sensed.

Later in the evening when I inquired if anyone had counted the buckets, Mike replied “there were four of them!”   



6th May

digging 2021 Posted on 9 May 2021 10:05 am

Report by Tav:

Mike, Tav, Nick, Dunc, Jake

A larger team tonight and all were gainfully employed. Some rocks were moved from the approach slope to add to the spoil retaining wall in the pit while Dunc surveyed the previously unsurveyed passages in this part of the cave. Digging commenced with Mike burrowing his way up the slope beyond the U-Bend and kicking the spoil down to Tav who filled the buckets. These were passed to Nick in the narrow rift who manhandled them down the line to Dunc and Jake. Another solid night’s work with the usual 20-25 buckets worth of spoil removed. There’s a lot more room to manoeuvre now and as anticipated Mike reported that the digging was getting easier as digging progressed. Positions 2 and 3 remain particularly hot and sweaty. No draught to speak of tonight, anywhere. Out for another well-earned beer in the ravine.”



29th April

digging 2021 Posted on 4 May 2021 3:18 pm

Report by Tav:

Mike, Nick, Tav

Operation Continuing Enlargement
Arrived at the show cave to find a film crew in situ, where security directed us to park in the upper car park.Dragging Nick away from the make up and costume vans parked by the archway we proceeded to the dig in an orderly fashion. Suitable tooled up (new spafe and small crowbar), Nick dug, Mike shuttled and shuffled and Tav clambered up and down the pot to dispose of the spoil. Another 20-25 buckets were removed and by the close of play the passage had been satisfactorily enlarged. Nick confirmed cool air movement in the dig – despite there being no draught in Fuzzy Wuzzy. All very hot and sweaty work and realistically on the limit of what 3 diggers can achieve. As the next phase of operation requires someone digging on the far side of the U-Bend we ideally need 5 and even 6 or 7 can be gainfully employed moving rocks and disposing of spoil on the steep approach slope. A survey would be handy too, to establish its relationship (if any) with the foot of the big rift chamber. A useful night’s work and beer well earned.”



Update:

digging 2021 Posted on 4 May 2021 3:14 pm

Unfortunately, work commitments have prevented me from attending some following digging sessions. Work has started along the small passage downslope of ‘Fuzzy Wuzzy’ in LoH&G. The initial few trips were to open up access and make the spoil removal process a bit more efficient, it is not easy but workable. At present, there is a positive attitude.



8th April

digging 2021 Posted on 4 May 2021 3:12 pm

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

First trip of 2021 due to UK Government imposed lockdown, a reaction to the global covid pandemic.

Not so much of a digging trip but a ‘bimble’ just to get back into the swing of it. We had a look at a few potential dig-sites for future attention and stood around chatting about things relevant and not so relevant. As Jake commented “3 months is a long time without the opportunity to talk bollocks!”

It did not look as if anyone had been to ‘Land of Hope Glory’ since our last trip in 2020 pre-lockdown. It is still a warm trip up and down ‘20’ and, immensely enjoyable!



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