21st December 2019

Vince, Tav, Brockers, Jake, Jon, Nick, surface support was provided by Matt.

I went to the farm to see Mark and family to hand over a small offering of thanks for their support during the past year. We might even get Mark underground in 2020 to have a look in Hallowe’en Rift.

At the current end of the Cold Gnarly North, the latest application of IRS had created a satisfying quantity of debris, although a rather annoying bridge of rock/calcite remained. This impeded forward progress somewhat and got in the way of a good look ahead. It wouldn’t succumb to vigorous attention from hammer and chisel, it will be dealt with later. All the loose rocks and gravel were bagged and dragged to be stacked, very neatly, on the dry north side of the lake. When the loose debris had been cleared, Tav and Jake came forward to inspect the prospects ahead, a plan was formulated for the next phase of IRS then, it was time to clear the spoil from the cave.

Brockers looking into the chamber ahead.

It was my turn to occupy the damp spot in the lake. I sat in a central position, the muddy water, c.300mm deep lapping around my waist. I hauled the skip, loaded with bags and/or rocks by Jake, it arrived from the darkness of the low passage, slid down into the murky water, partially submerged and approached like a ‘menacing crocodilian’. The load was transferred to the next skip to be hauled away by Tav and Brockers. After a while the cold began to seep in and I was glad to hear “last bag” called. Jake then decided that we should wrestle a large and heavy boulder that barely went through the lower sections, out to the surface. We, of course, embraced the challenge. It was good to find out that Matt had turned up to assist in surface duties and the bags had been emptied, 45 of them plus about 10 skip loads of rock or equivalent thereof.

It was a bit surreal to exit the cave to the sounds of carol singers and fluttering tinsel. Roz, Rebecca and Rachael had decided to turn up with a festive surprise, mince pies, sausage rolls and a stocking for each of us hung in the trees.

The festive spirit (l to r: Vince, Matt, Jon, Rachael, Brockers, Tav, Nick).
Photograph by Rebecca Johnson.

Author: mendipgeoarch

Archaeologist, Geologist, Speleologist