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Hallowe'en Rift, Mendip Hills

Excursions [and other notes] involved in the exploration of Hallowe'en Rift; a cave, so far, formed within Triassic Dolomitic Conglomerate.

The exploration of Hallowe'en Rift was started in 1982 by Trevor Hughes with other members of the Bristol Exploration Club, then during the early 1990's Vince Simmonds and other, mostly, local diggers were active at a number of locations within the cave, including the start of the dig to the 'east' side of the entrance, leading to An Unexpected Development in August 2018, with Graham Johnson in December 1991. The current phase of exploration was commenced in 2009, with the majority of the early work being carried out by Vince Simmonds and Alex Gee, now the regular team also includes Rob 'Tav' Taviner, Graham 'Jake' Johnson, Nick Hawkes, Jonathon Riley, Paul 'Brockers' Brock, Roz Simmonds, Duncan Price, Mike Moxon and Matt Tuck. There has been occasional help from others including Caroline Allen, Mike Willett, John 'Tangent' Williams, Pete Bolt, Bob Smith, Callum and Hazel Simmonds, and several appearances by that well-known antipodean, Ray Deasey.

There have been visits from some notable experts in their various fields including: Charlie Self, Andy Farrant, Christopher Smith, Derek Ford, Joyce Lundberg, Don MacFarlane, Marc Luetscher and Gina Moseley. All have added to a better understanding of Hallowe'en Rift.


notes Posted on Sun, July 24, 2016 10:44:14

24th July 2016:

Sunday morning and the dog needed a walk so decided that I would go over to Hallowe’en Rift and get the lump of flowstone that I had left there. Parked at the end of Dursdon Drove and walked along the hilltop at Rookham before crossing fields down to Hallowe’en Rift. At the cave I took some photographs, put the lump of flowstone into my bag before spending a few minutes placing some more stones onto the retaining wall.

As previously mentioned (23/07/2016 entry) after splitting a lump of flowstone yesterday another older speleothem was revealed encased within it, as is clearly seen in the image below.

The other lump of flowstone also reveals an older speleothem. Just to the right of centre the remains of a small stalagmite ‘boss’ can be seen below successive layers of flowstone.

Both these remnants of flowstone have been recovered from the sediments removed from the ongoing dig at the end of Merlin’s Magic Milk Parlour. It would be interesting to get these dated to establish whether the ages are similar to the dates from previous samples.

23rd July 2016

digging 2016 Posted on Sun, July 24, 2016 07:13:14

With Tav and Nick.

It was a warm walk up to the cave entrance, underground it was much cooler. Dragged my tackle bag with ‘capping’ kit and drill to the dig face to deal with the rocks that were impeding progress. A couple of holes and the resulting debris was passed back to Nick, who was doing the clearing away. A rather hungover Tav was on hauling duties.

I set about clearing spoil from the end while Nick seemed to be trying to bury me as he was working on enlarging and tidying the passage behind me. I managed to remove a couple of large rocks, creating some space to the right hand side of the passage. More bags filled and rocks barred out of the way, the digging was progressing quite well. By the end of the session there were a few small gaps/spaces appearing and the prospects look interesting. There is plenty to do to enlarge the space I had created and it might require some removal of rock from the roof to make a bit more working space.

Nick and Tav went to the entrance to start clearing out to the surface while I drilled one more hole to split a rock ready for removal next session. Packed the kit away and headed out to help the others.

At the entrance I was a little surprised to see just how much spoil had been removed – 25 bags and 15 skip loads of rock – some of the rock required reduction in size, this was achieved with the use of the sledge hammer.

Interestingly one large lump of flowstone was split open to reveal that it had formed around an older speleothem. This was put to one side on the surface with the other interesting lump of flowstone that I, once again forgot to pick up and bring home for further examination.

As usual the morning ended with a trip to the Hunter’s Lodge Inn for some refreshment and debrief.