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dighalloween

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, their interest waned by the late 80s. 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 with Graham Johnson in December 1991. This led to the discovery of An Unexpected Development in August 2018. 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, and Duncan Price. There has been occasional help from others including Phil Coles, Caroline Allen, Mike Willett, Mike Moxon, Matt Tuck, 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.

1st December

digging 2022 Posted on Thu, December 01, 2022 15:59:43

Solo

The plan was to break-up some large boulders left to one side underneath the pissing tree. The northside of the hill was blanketed in thick fog, however, gaining height onto the plateau the sun was shining and it was a pleasant drive over to the southside, still in sunshine. Got to the farm, changed, and wandered up to Hallowe’en Rift. At the cave got distracted by a pile of rocks and set about wall building and tidying stuff. Eventually, looked at the watch and thought it was time to get underground and put the initial plan into action.

Plugs and feathers

The dripping water throughout the cave was noticeable and there were plenty of puddles along the way. The NE passage (Soft South) was sticky and slippery. Up in the elevated section spent some time levelling the floor to enable better movement of the skip (filled the hole in the floor). Got the plugs and feathers out to remove a jutting ‘nose’ of rock and then started on the large boulder at the end. This boulder, comprised of conglomerate, thick calcite, and mineralized rock, proved to be obstinate and took longer to deal with than anticipated. It did finally succumb. The loose cobble- and small boulder-size lumps were stashed on one side and the smaller fragments bagged up ready for removal at the weekend. Job done!

The current end of the dig underneath the pissing tree



26th November

digging 2022 Posted on Sat, November 26, 2022 14:51:17

With Brockers, Mike, Duncan, and Jake

Smaller team this weekend. Down at the current end of the NE passage in the deep Soft South, Brockers was busily digging underneath the pissing tree, Mike was clearing away the spoil back to the pot. I was on the slippery ledge (clipped in for safety), Duncan at the bottom of the entrance, Jake on the surface hauling up and emptying bags.

Brockers persevered with digging the space beyond the stalagmites opened last session under the ‘ceiling’ of jammed cobbles/boulders. Due to the conditions, digging was steady and, at times, tentative. The removal of spoil along the elevated section had not been improved by the step/hole created last weekend, some levelling-up was required to enable the skip to be used. Brockers eased out some large boulders from the dig, these will need reducing in size to ease handling and removal at a later date. At the end of the session the space beyond the stalagmites was looking intriguing but will require some thought while further progress is made. We really should get around to trying a voice connection with Trick or Treat, something that has been mentioned over the last couple of sessions but not yet done.

The stalagmites photographed 12/11/22 before digging progressed, the ‘space’ can be seen behind the larger right-hand stalagmite

A total of 42 bags were hauled out and emptied, a lot of rocks were put to one side in the NE passage awaiting removal at some time in the future! It was time for the Hunter’s and some refreshments.



19th November

digging 2022 Posted on Sun, November 20, 2022 09:55:47

With Nick, Jon, Brockers, Jake, Tav, and Mike

A good turn-out today this would mean that all spoil could be removed directly to the surface. More time for digging; more stuff removed!

Down in the deep Soft South, me and Nick were digging. I was working in the area of the calcited blockage at the current furthest point, while Nick was happily reducing the floor level along the [presently] elevated section. Jon was shuttling back and forth along the approach passage to the pot with the spoil (filled bags and rocks). Brockers was positioned on the ledge and, after that, not entirely sure who was where, except that Jake was on the surface. As the session progressed it was becoming apparent that there is ‘something’ continuing above and beyond the [now three] stalagmites. I had cleared a space and could look upwards to some jammed cobbles and boulders that will not be easy to remove without getting a faceful of fine sediment or a clatter of stones. It might be a connection with Trick or Treat, or it might prove to be nothing, only further digging will tell one way or t’other.

A total of 98 filled bags and about 10 skip-loads of rock were added to respective piles. It had been a fine, enjoyable session. Time for some refreshments at the Hunter’s Lodge Inn.



12th November

digging 2022 Posted on Sun, November 13, 2022 11:15:45

With Brockers, Tav, and Nick

Down on numbers again but, no matter, there’s still work to be done!

The stalagmites underneath the pissing tree! It is clear that the obstruction is composed of fractured calcite formations and conglomerate cobbles/boulders that have been re-cemented. The stalagmites form part of a calcited flowstone capping. All later buried by successive layers of clay, silt and sand. Composite image 12/11/2022

Brockers came armed with a custom-made mattock (apparently to Jake’s design) and took to the forefront digging at the current dig-face underneath the pissing tree. Tav cleared away filled bags and rocks also, in the quieter moments, levelled the passage floor. I was transporting the spoil along the NE passage to the pot and hauling the loaded bucket up to Nick on the ledge. Nick dragged the filled bags to the entrance. The rocks had been stacked along the NE passage to be removed at some later date, when we have a bigger team.

The calcited blockage is proving to be more of a problem than anticipated. There does not appear to be a route over the top as hoped and neither does a way to the right-hand side seem to present an easy option. There is the possibility of going down in the hope the passage widens to the right-side. We will see.

Soon it was after midday, time to stop digging and clear out the cave. Seventy-two bags were hauled out and added to the spoil heap. Empty bags re-packed, dropped down the entrance, ready for refilling during the next session.

Hunter’s Lodge Inn for some refreshment and conversation.



5th November

digging 2022 Posted on Sun, November 06, 2022 11:43:20

With Roz, Tav, and Jon

Down on numbers today due to a variety of reasons so Roz volunteered to come along and help out.

Once underground there was a brief discussion regarding todays digging strategy which resulted in three filling bags. I was at the current dig-face, Roz next in line lowering and levelling the floor, Jon was widening the approach to the dig on the NW side, leaving Tav shuttling back and forth to the pot with the spoil. The filled bags were piled up ready for removal later in the session.

At the end of the dig the effort was concentrated on widening the passage to the right-hand side, the aim being to get around an obstruction ahead and to the left. The obstruction comprises re-cemented lumps of fractured stal and cobbles/boulders of conglomerate with two prominent stalagmites being exposed following removal of a considerable quantity of sediment. There appear, at this stage, two ways to bypass the obstruction either over the top or, as mentioned previously, around to the right-side of it, neither represent an easy option. It would be good if the stalagmites could be preserved in-situ, still looks an interesting prospect ahead.

There was a pause to the digging activities at around 11:30 but then, after a brief discourse, continued until midday. There was a pile of 100+ filled bags in the pot awaiting removal and the removal process was to take a bit longer than anticipated. Eventually, all the bags were on the surface. The next task was to empty the bags onto the spoil heap, then pack the empties into ‘tens’ and return them to the cave ready for use next session. It had been a productive morning.

We were later to the Hunter’s Lodge Inn as a consequence of a busy session and the refreshments were especially welcomed.

Vince emptying bags onto the spoil heap. Photograph by Roz 05/11/2022


29th October

digging 2022 Posted on Fri, November 04, 2022 10:29:08

I attended a Geological Society Field Meeting at Aust Cliffs and surrounding environs. However, activities at HR continued, the following report penned by Jon with a contribution from Mike:

“I am reminded that I offered to write a report on last Saturday’s efforts at HR.

Halloween Rift 29th October 2022

Four diggers (Paul, Jon, Jake and Mike) arrived at the appointed hour. Jake was elected to be the responsible key holder for the day. Nick arrived shortly before the Team ventured underground to make up the five needed to haul to the surface.

Having been absent for a few weeks, Nick was sent to the front, supported by Mike. Jake initially worked the ledge, with Jon at the bottom of the entrance and Paul on the surface.

The progress was slow; digging is currently hard work. After 10 or so bags of spoil were sent to the surface, the Team reorganised. Mike moved forward and dug behind and to the left of Nick, supported by Jake. Paul worked the ledge and Jon stacked in the entrance. The pace increased but the turnover remained below the recent average.

The difficult issue was then determining when to bring the morning’s efforts to a close. There was no time-keeping device on site and the 20-bags-per-person rule seemed inappropriate at the current digging rate. The Team chose to rely on Jake’s beer alarm.

Eventually, the alarm sounded and the Team cleared the entrance. A total of 70 bags and a solitary rock were removed.

Back at the farm, the beer alarm was seen to be accurate to within half an hour. It could be argued that predicting the time to within half an hour in a 24 hour period is an error of around 2%. Jake could claim 98% accuracy in his beer alarm.

The team then retired to a local hostelry for light refreshment.”

Mike added: “Nick removed two almost torso sized rocks, that took both of us to move on the skip & a few smaller ones. I cleared the far end of the hollow in the floor to see that it appears to be headed towards where Nick was digging.”



22nd October

digging 2022 Posted on Sat, October 22, 2022 18:09:44

With Tav, Jake, Jon, and Brockers

Tav digging, I was moving the spoil (mostly filled bags) along the NE passage to the pot and hauling up to Jake on the ledge. The spoil transferred to the next skip hauled away by Jon to the entrance, Brockers (slightly late on parade) hauled the bags up to the surface and added the contents to the spoil heap.

Tav contemplates the next move

The digging effort was concentrated on widening the passage to ease forward progress, a small amount of sediment was removed from the floor too. On the right-hand side of the passage some rock was exposed which might restrict the width. About 90 bags filled, hauled, and emptied, plus a few rocks made their way to the wall-building stockpile.

To the Hunter’s Lodge Inn for refreshments.

Looking back along the NE passage to the pot


15th October

digging 2022 Posted on Sat, October 15, 2022 18:57:08

Vince, Brockers, Tav, Jake and Jon

Brockers underneath the pissing tree digging, filling bags, and loading the skip. The skip then hauled away by Tav, who then carried the spoil along the NE passage then hauling the bags and rocks up to the ledge. I was on the ledge unloading the bucket and transferring the spoil to the next skip to be hauled to the entrance by Jake. Every now and again the skip needed some guidance around the bend. The filled bags and/or rocks into the final skip to be hauled up to the surface by Jon, the spoil added to the spoil heap. A good steady session.

Looking into the deep Soft South!

At the digging end some sizeable stalagmites have been exposed and a calcited bank or “boss” (not quite clear yet). Probably we’ll need to dig around to the right-side to bypass these obstructions.

Some of us took refreshments at the Hunter’s Lodge Inn.



8th October

digging 2022 Posted on Mon, October 10, 2022 09:06:16

I was away for the weekend attending the 33rd BCRA Cave Science Symposium and AGM at the University of Manchester followed, on Sunday, with a field meeting at Alderley Edge Mines, Cheshire. Digging at HH, however, continued. Jon penned the following account of activities on Saturday morning.

Report by Jon:

“Four diggers (Brockers, Jake, Tav and Jon) arrived at the farm at the appointed hour. Responsibility for the key was handed to a ‘responsible person’. There was much discussion as to who qualified.

A drag tray was taken up to rig the new skip run. Jon was sent to the front and supported by Brockers, at a distance. Tav worked the ledge and Jake stacked, very neatly, at the bottom of the entrance shaft. The new skip run works well, as expected.

The cavalry did not arrive.

At the dig face, there is evidence of a rock ledge on the left hand side, just below the top of the in-fill. This may narrow the passage by 12 inches or so; we may need to take a little more out on the right. The spoil remains dry and dusty despite being underneath The Pissing Tree.

With only one person digging, the number of bags was down on previous sessions. A time-based approach was taken. 74 bags were removed, along with some of the rock that had previously been stacked.

The Team then retired to a local hostelry for light refreshment.”



5th October

digging 2022 Posted on Wed, October 05, 2022 16:54:27

Solo

Down in the deep South Soft, along the northeast passage and ‘underneath the pissing tree,’ I set to work with the plugs and feathers. The plan being to trim some of the rock and boulders that were jutting out from the passage sidewalls, so that a skip would run more freely along the route following some levelling up of the floor. Four bags were filled with loosened sediment and gravel-sized lumps of rock, these were transported back to the pot to be removed on the weekend.

The passage leading ‘underneath the pissing tree’
The way forward! For scale the bar (centre right) is c.500mm length


1st October

digging 2022 Posted on Sun, October 02, 2022 09:27:57

With Mike, Jon, Jake

Mike was at the forefront digging “Underneath the Pissing Tree” (a term coined following an observation made by Jake last weekend regarding the above-ground location of the dig-face) at the current end of the north-east passage leading off the pot in the deep Soft South. Jon was behind Mike making the passage suitable for a future skip-run. I was shuttling the filled bags back along the passage to the pot and hauling them up onto the ledge, where Jake was unloading the bucket and dragging the filled bags along to the entrance approach.

Following comments made after last week’s session regarding the efficiency of the 20-bag/person quota, we had decided to adopt a time-based approach to the digging activities this weekend. Therefore, at noon digging was ceased and the clear-out of accumulated spoil commenced. At the end of the session, a total of 95-bags had been filled, hauled, and emptied. This might suggest that a time-based approach is more productive, however, further trials of this strategy are required. It should be noted this method, should it be adopted, requires that someone has a watch.

We retired to the Hunter’s Lodge Inn for refreshments and further deliberation.



24th September

digging 2022 Posted on Wed, September 28, 2022 08:26:21

I had an appointment at Bath Racecourse, where there is a vaccination centre, for another (4th) covid jab. Hence, I was unavailable for digging but the rest of the team kept up with the task:

Report by Jon:

“Three diggers (Jake, Tav and Jon) arrived at the farm at the appointed hour. Jake remembered the key.

With only a small team, the ‘20 bags per person’ rule was enforced. Those who had missed the previous session were promoted to the front line. The plan was then for Jon to shuttle the bags of spoil from the dig face and stack them in the pot. Hauling would then proceed in two stages.

The cavalry arrived in the form of Mike, who had performed the same role the previous week, stacking at the bottom of the entrance. Mike was promoted forward a position; Jon worked on the ledge and stacked at the junction. Hauling out was then accomplished in a single stage.

The ‘20 bags per person’ rule was retained. The small team worked quietly and efficiently. It was quiet; something was missing.

Eight packs of bags were used; none were over-filled. Given the dry and dusty nature of the spoil, the bags were readily hauled to the surface. Departing a little earlier than planned, the team discussed whether ‘20 bags per person’ might be refined. They then retired to a local hostelry for light refreshment.”



17th September

digging 2022 Posted on Sat, September 17, 2022 15:00:46

With Brockers, Nick, Jon, and Mike

Started the session with a small team, no matter. Brockers and Nick upfront digging, Jon was moving the filled bags back to the pot. The bags were hauled up to the ledge where I unloaded the bucket and carried the filled bags along the passage back towards the entrance. About 20 bags had been dragged along the passage when Mike turned up, an extra pair of hands would make things much easier (for me, anyway).

The session continued until about 90 bags had been filled and the decision was made to clear-out the cave. While the rest of the team started to haul and empty the bags, I set off to Trick or Treat and Nick returned to the dig in the Soft South. The plan was to find out if we could establish a voice connection between the two passages – the outcome; we could not make any connection. We returned via our respective route to join the others and clear the cave.

Refreshments, for some of us, were taken at the Hunter’s.



10th September

digging 2022 Posted on Sat, September 10, 2022 14:58:58

With Jon, Brockers, Jake, and Tav

Me and Jon were digging today following the NE passage ‘to wurdles eþel’ in the deep Soft South, Brockers was transporting the filled bags back to the pot and hauling them up to the ledge. Tav was on the ledge unloading the bags from the bucket and transferring them to the skip hauled away by Jake at the entrance, where the filled bags were temporarily being stored.

I wormed my way along the top of the partially sediment-filled tube to see what, if anything, might be revealed, while Jon widened the approach to ease the passage of skips/bags/spoil I the future. Every now and then Brockers felt the urge to have a little dig and prod at a rock. There is plenty of room for digging and plenty of options to choose from too. At the end of the session no conclusion was reached just that there is still lot’s of stuff to dig out.

The digging came to a natural pause and at this point, we made the decision to exit the cave and empty the bags onto the spoil heap (100-bags were added to the heap). Job done, the team re-convened at the Hunter’s Lodge Inn for a de-brief and refreshments.



5th September

digging 2022 Posted on Mon, September 05, 2022 14:52:19

Solo

Lugged the drill and other stuff (plugs & feathers, etc.) up across the field to the cave. Initially, I was accompanied by sheep, they must have thought I had food.

Arrived at the boulder part-way along the passage approaching the dig-face and set about reducing the large rock to more manageable pieces. When the reduction had been completed the pieces were rolled back down the slope to the lower section of the NE passage and added them to the step-up to the elevated section. Unfortunately, when the boulder had been removed it revealed there is more rock in-situ, this might have to remain. Also, had battery power remaining so broke another boulder lurking around at the bottom of the pot. It’s therapeutic working alone in the cave, although on the odd occasion there is an unexplained feeling that you are not alone. Funny thing sound when you are alone in a cave.



3rd September

digging 2022 Posted on Sat, September 03, 2022 15:26:32

With Tav, Jake, Jon, and Duncan

The bottom of the pot in the deep Soft South

Tav and Jake headed off to get digging underway at the end of the NE passage in the deep Soft South. I was all set to take a position on the ledge but went along to the dig to take some photographs before it all steamed up. Duncan settled down at the bottom of the entrance, Jon opted for surfaces duties.

At the dig, photographs taken it was obvious that a minimum of three people were required along the NE passage. Tav and Jake continued digging, both filling bags and I shuttled the filled bags along the passage to the bottom of the pot. The filled bags were hauled up to the ledge where Jon had now positioned himself, having abandoned the surface for the time being. Duncan remained at the entrance and hauled the skip back, stashing the bags in the entrance and along the surrounding passage.

Looking along the north-east passage

The large boulder noted last session had been eased out by Jake and now requires some reduction in size, it wouldn’t succumb to hammer blows. I will return in the coming week with plugs and feathers. Good progress at the dig-face and the way forward in now easily accessible. Stacking space was diminishing rapidly and we decided to move out and clear the cave. About 70 bags were emptied plus a few rocks added to the stockpile. It had been another good session. Refreshments at the Hunter’s and it was great to see that the Perspex guards had been removed, back to some sort of normality at last.

Jake (foreground) waits for Tav to fill a bag and pass it back



27th August

digging 2022 Posted on Sat, August 27, 2022 15:24:46

I’ve been away for the last few weeks cycling from John o’Groats to Land’s End with Roz. Leaving John o’Groats on 1st August (after cycling there from Wick) and arriving at Land’s End 20 day’s later on 20th August, about 08:45 on a Saturday morning. We were disappointed when arriving at Penzance Rail Station to find industrial action had resulted in all trains being cancelled. Booked into the nearby Premier Inn and caught a very busy train home on Sunday morning. Distance cycled c.2045km (c.1270 miles) with c.20,340m climbed over 20 days.

John o’Groats

While we were pedalling digging continued at Hallowe’en Rift, but no reports of the activities have been forthcoming…yet.

With Brockers, Jon, Tav, and Jake

I started to get changed ready to go digging when I realised that I had left my caving helmet and light at home and had no spare light in the van. Thankfully, Brockers saved me a trip back home and lent me his spare light and a helmet he had in his van.

Me and Jon down in the deep Soft South along the NE passage digging, Brockers on the ledge, Tav at the entrance, Jake on the surface. Progress had been good during my absence, always easier to follow along some open space, and so it continued today. Initially we could peer over the top of the sediment for a couple, maybe three, metres ahead. By the end of the session, we had reached this point and were looking around the corner at a continuing partially sediment-filled phreatic tube, and could over the sediment, perhaps another three metres or so. So, plenty more digging to be done yet. There is a large boulder part way along the dig, and I’ve been contemplating reducing it in size with plugs and feathers.

About 80 bags filled and emptied (by Jake) plus quite a few skip-loads of rocks. Good to be back digging.

Report by Tav:

20.08.2022Jake, Mike, Jon, Brockers, Duncan, Tav and five million flies

115 bags removed. Duncan updated the survey.”



23rd July

digging 2022 Posted on Sat, July 23, 2022 14:41:48

With Jon, Jake, Nick, and Duncan

Good to see Jon back again. Four of us (Jon, Jake, Nick, and me) set-off from the farm, arrived at the cave, decided on an 80-bag total (20 bags per person) for the session and headed underground. Nick and Jake digging along the NE passage, me on the ledge, Jon at the entrance. A couple of bags had been filled and moved along the line when Duncan arrived (we didn’t make a readjustment in bags to filled quota for one reason or another). Duncan swapped places with Jon in the entrance (Jon went up to the surface) and soon the status quo was restored.

Things were progressing steadily when word came from the dig-face that a “hole” had opened – “rabbit-sized” with a draught. Work continued. Nick and Jake swapping places after each filling 20-bags. The filled bags were flowing along at a steady rate and no skip capsizes around the awkward bend. After 60-bags had been filled, Nick came up to the ledge so that I could do some digging. The “hole” at the top of a steep, awkward slope had been enlarged a bit and was looking very enticing. Work continued to expand the access upslope towards the “hole” and eventually it was large enough to wriggle through. This was made easier by Jake who had the foresight to get the short ladder stashed at the top of the pot to stand on. The “hole” led to a small space with abundant root growth and a partially sediment-filled phreatic tube, c.1m dia., trending c.NE. It’s not ‘Trick or Treat’ as expected (although it might lead quickly to it) but appears to be something in between. It might be worth trying to establish an aural connection between the top of the NE passage and the end of ‘Trick or Treat’ at sometime in the near future. It is clear that there is still plenty of digging to be done to open better access into the space and so gain more understanding of where things are going.

Unfortunately, the digging team will be a bit depleted during August as Jake, Duncan, and me, have other commitments to fulfil. Although I am sure that the rest of the team will be perfectly happy beavering away in the deep Soft South. Happy days!



16th July

digging 2022 Posted on Sun, July 17, 2022 09:27:24

With Jake, Brockers, Duncan, and Nick

Me and Jake down in the deep Soft South forging ahead along the NE passage, Brockers on the ledge, Duncan at the bottom of the entrance, Nick on the surface. Following the set quota of 20 bags per number of participants, a total of 100 bags were filled, hauled, and emptied. At the dig face the mornings progress was noticeable, some very tiny spaces at roof level were noted, these probably the result of sediment settlement over time but, interesting all the same.

Exited the cave to some very warm sunshine. It was not really a great surprise to find that Nick had not only hauled out the filled bags but had emptied them too. He did say the biting flies were not too much of an issue – probably too dry and hot for them.



9th July

digging 2022 Posted on Sun, July 17, 2022 09:26:34

No digging due to a number of factors including ailments, Priddy Folk Festival, and the need to dig a big hole to bury a goat.



2nd July

digging 2022 Posted on Sat, July 02, 2022 14:50:47

With Brockers, Nick, Jake, and Duncan

Brockers and Nick digging so a regular supply of well-filled bags was to be expected. I was on the ledge catching the hauling bucket and transferring its load to the next skip to be hauled away by Duncan positioned at the bottom of the entrance. Jake was on the surface. 10 packs (c.100 bags) were dispatched to the bottom of the pot in the deep Soft South ready to be filled, rocks were left awaiting removal at a later date.

Later in the session a request was relayed to the diggers from Jake asking that the bags were not overfilled as it was raining and the haul rope becoming increasingly slippery.

When all the bags had been filled it was time to exit the cave and return to the surface to empty them. The stream of water flowing down the entrance was clear evidence of just how wet it had become. It was rather squalid as we emptied the bags.

Last job of the session, emptying the bags!


25th June

digging 2022 Posted on Sat, June 25, 2022 16:07:17

With Brockers and Jake

The last men standing apparently. Anyway, stock to the 20-bag/person quota and got on with it. Me, Jake, and Brockers, respectively, filled bags, cleared them away hauled them up to the ledge and dragged them along towards the entrance. Jake managed to eventually entice a large lump of calcite out of the dig-face and proceeded to roll it along the passage until he decided to reduce it to more manageable pieces with the sledge hammer. All bag quotas filled, rocks were left for another day, we moved the filled bags along to the entrance, hauled them out of the cave to empty the contents onto the spoil heap. A good session.

Disappointingly, the Hunter’s Lodge Inn was not open today due to people attending the Pilton pop show! Cycled up to the crossroads and kept going onwards to home.



18th June

digging 2022 Posted on Sat, June 18, 2022 18:10:36

With Jon, Brockers, Tav, Jake, and Nick

Following the NE passage.

Jon and Brockers digging down in the deep Soft South following the NE passage. I was on the ledge unloading the hauling bucket transferring the contents to the next skip to be hauled away by Tav at the bottom of the entrance. Jake and Nick were on the surface hauling out and emptying the filled bags. A busy session, plenty of banter, 100+ bags filled, hauled, and emptied plus several skip loads of stones. The skips going up and down the entrance now looking increasingly worse for wear and really need to be replaced.

A satisfying session. Refreshments were taken at the Hunter’s Lodge Inn.



11th June

digging 2022 Posted on Sat, June 11, 2022 16:44:14

No digging took place last weekend (4th June) I was in the Yorkshire Dales (BCRA CA SIG Field Meeting at Lower Winskill, Settle) and the team took advantage of the longer [Jubilee] bank holiday.

With Brockers, Jon, Jake, and Nick

Nick and Jake were today’s digging team down in the deep Soft South heading NE, back to two due to the lower numbers. Brockers on the ledge, Jon at the bottom of the entrance, leaving me on the surface. The skip was being loaded at a relentless rate – filled bags interspersed with the occasional load of rocks. There was no time to empty the bags. It was warm and humid, thankfully there was a breeze every now and then, but the flies were becoming increasingly annoying! About 100 filled bags plus several skip loads of rocks were removed and dispersed.

Filled bags are lined up waiting to be emptied!

A c.3-hour session at Hallowe’en Rift is a better overall workout than any gym…then there’s the cycle to and from the farm.

Refreshments (and a rest) at the Hunter’s Lodge Inn was very welcome.



28th May

digging 2022 Posted on Sun, May 29, 2022 06:45:28

With Brockers and Jon

A small team assembled at the cave today. At the entrance a brief discussion regarding digging strategy. It was decided that 60 bags were to be filled (20 each) then hauled out and emptied. So, we headed underground. At the bottom of the entrance, I collected 6 packs of bags (10 bags/pack) and headed down to the deep Soft South followed by Brockers and Jon, both, not wanting to be empty-handed, arrived with more bags. The digging continued at the end of the c.9m long NE passage. It all started according to plan, I filled my 20-bag quota, Brockers cleared away to Jon stashing the bags at the bottom of the pot. Brockers, of course. having to find something to occupy himself filled a few bonus bags while awaiting his turn. I swapped places with Brockers and following a chat with Jon went up onto the ledge to start getting some of the bags out of the pot and stashed ready to be moved further along the passage later.

Brockers filled his quota of 20 bags plus a ‘bonus’ pack and swapped places with Jon who proceeded to fill his 20 bags. Brockers came up to the ledge and I returned to the pot to haul filled bags up to him. Eventually, all quotas filled, the bags were moved out of the cave and emptied onto the spoil heap. The final count, 83 bags plus one rock. Below ground there is an increasing stockpile of rock awaiting removal and there were quite a few rocks added to that pile today.

A warm pedal up the Old Bristol Road in the sunshine and welcome refreshments in the Hunter’s Lodge Inn with the team. It had been a good and productive session.



21st May

digging 2022 Posted on Sun, May 22, 2022 06:54:35

With Nick, Duncan, Jake, Jon, Brockers, and Tav

Full strength team turn-out again this weekend. Jake, Jon, and Tav digging down in the deep Soft South going northeast, Brockers on the not so slippery ledge, Duncan hauling from the bottom of the entrance, leaving me and Nick on the surface.

A fine productive session, 142 bags were filled, hauled and emptied, plus a selection of rocks for the wall building stockpile.

Some of us went to the Hunter’s Lodge Inn for refreshments. Warm work pedalling up the Old Bristol Road (and Tyning’s Lane, of course).



14th May

digging 2022 Posted on Sun, May 15, 2022 06:46:23
The shed

With Nick, Duncan, Tav, Jake, Brockers, and Jon

The full team assembled today enabling three to go digging in the deep Soft South. Me, Duncan, and Nick took it in turns, on a 20-bag turnaround, to loosen sediment and fill bags, carry the filled bags along the NE passage, and haul the bags up to the ledge. Tav had taken a position on the higher ground to catch the bucket and transfer its load to the next skip to be hauled away by Jake, at the bottom of the entrance. The drying conditions underground meant that the skip did not slide along the passage freely and required a regular sprinkling of water, also, the skip needs replacing. Brockers and Jon were on the surface in the pleasantly warm sunshine, although probably being pestered by flies.

Today’s total, 120 bags filled, hauled, and emptied onto the spoil heap.

Refreshments were taken at the Hunter’s Lodge Inn where some rather random conversations took place.



7th May

digging 2022 Posted on Sun, May 08, 2022 06:49:35

With Brockers, Jon, Jake, Tav and Duncan.

Brockers and Jon digging in the deep Soft South following the northeast trending passage. I was on the not so slippery ledge, it’s drying up nicely now, emptying one skip and loading another to be hauled away by Duncan, who was in position at the bottom of the entrance. Jake and Tav were on the surface.

A good, steady, and productive session, 145 bags filled, hauled and emptied onto the spoil heap.

Refreshments at the Hunter’s Lodge Inn were welcomed. It was a warm pedal up the Old Bristol Road from the farm.



30th April

digging 2022 Posted on Sun, May 01, 2022 07:57:18

With Jon, Brockers, Phil, Jake and Tav.

Jake and Tav digging in the deep Soft South, Brockers on the ledge, Phil at the bottom of the entrance, leaving me and Jon on the surface. Jon and I alternated the tasks of hauling and emptying bags, adding any rocks to the various terrace walls, and generally enjoying the fine, sunny morning. It’s a lovely time of the year in the woods, fresh leaf growth, birds singing, butterflies but no flies…yet!

Over 100 bags filled and emptied, a few skip-loads of rocks. A good team effort.

Some of us went to the Hunter’s Lodge Inn for refreshments.



23rd April

digging 2022 Posted on Sun, April 24, 2022 09:55:28
Saint George’s Day

With Brockers, Jon, Jake, Tav and Duncan (briefly) he only came for the beer! Later joined by Samuel and Rosie Mills (Wookey Ale) for the Hallowe’en Rift beer launch.

Got to the farm a little early and spent some time chatting to Mark (the farmer) until the team started to arrive in dribs and drabs.

At HR we decided to get on with some digging until the beer launch, me and Jon tidied up the loose spoil left by last weekend’s diggers, about 20 bags were filled. Jake was on the ledge, Tav at the bottom of the entrance, Brockers on the surface with Duncan. When Samuel and Rosie turned up, we all made our way to the surface, an executive directive issued by Brockers. Very generously, they had arrived with bacon sarnies and beer!

Left to right: Rosie, Samuel, Jon, Brockers, Tav, Jake, Duncan, I’m behind the camera!

Refreshments over it was time to introduce Samuel to the deep Soft South! As Brockers was on the surface today he lent some kit to Sam. Once down at the bottom of the pot in the deep Soft South, a can of beer was placed on a suitable rock and ceremoniously opened with a single, mighty blow from the sledgehammer – the beer had been launched! Photos and videos taken, a brief explanation of the dig and geomorphological processes evident it was time to return to the surface. A farewell to Samuel and Rosie, then returned to digging.

Samuel holds a can of Hallowe’en Rift down in the deep Soft South!

A further 50 or so bags were filled, several trip hazards left over from the week before were broken up and hauled out to the surface too. All in all, it had been an okay morning.

Further refreshment, for some, was partaken at the Hunter’s Lodge Inn.

Promotional video clip put together by Samuel Mills of Wookey Ale.



16th April

digging 2022 Posted on Sun, April 17, 2022 08:11:36

With Brockers, Jon, Phil, and Nick

Brockers and Phil digging down in the deep Soft South, Jon on the ledge (the skip from the pot has been rejuvenated), I was hauling from the bottom of the entrance and transferring the load to be pulled out of the cave by Nick. On the surface filled bags were emptied onto the spoil heap and other landscaping was carried out whenever there was a spare moment. Looking up from my seat I could see that the weather was pleasant. About 90 bags were added to the spoil heap and quite a lot of rocks too.

Refreshment was taken later at the Hunter’s Lodge Inn.



9th April

digging 2022 Posted on Mon, April 11, 2022 11:51:04

With Brockers, Jake, Jon, Tav and Nick.

Tav and Jon digging in the deep Soft South, Brockers on the ledge keeping an eye on proceedings, me hauling the skip from the bottom of the entrance, the filled bags being hauled to the surface by Jake and Nick. Also, on the surface, wall construction and landscaping activities were occurring. The weather was good for it too!

No-one kept a tally of bags shifted but it must have been in excess of 100.

Refreshments at the Hunter’s Lodge Inn.



2nd April

digging 2022 Posted on Sun, April 03, 2022 06:47:54

With Brockers, Jake, Jon, Nick, Duncan, and Phil Coles

Brockers bought Phil along today, normally, guests would get digging duties, but Phil declined the honour. However, Nick eagerly snapped up the opportunity as he had missed out on a couple of digging sessions due to work commitments. Nick was joined by Jake in the deep Soft South. Duncan was on the ledge, Phil occupied the corner spot, Jon at the bottom of the entrance leaving me and Brockers on the surface. After an early frost the weather was superb, it’s a sheltered spot at HR and warm in the spring sunshine. Brockers did all the hauling while I built another terrace wall and emptied the bags behind it. No-one kept a tally of bags, but it must have been in excess of 100 plus quite a lot of rocks.

Brockers hauls another skip load out of the cave.


26th March

digging 2022 Posted on Sun, March 27, 2022 13:15:28

With Brockers, Jake, Jon, Duncan, and Mike turned up later in the morning.

Me and Brocker digging, alternating the loosening sediment/filling bags, and hauling the spoil up to the ledge. Jake was on the ledge, catching the bucket and transferring its contents to the skip to be hauled away by Duncan, at the bottom of the entrance, Jon was on the surface, joined later in the morning, by Mike.

About 100 bags were filled, hauled, and emptied along with several loads of rock being added to the wall building stockpile. The weather was glorious, but it was still surprisingly damp and soggy underground. The dimensions of the sediment choked passage being followed have not diminished.



25th March

digging 2022 Posted on Fri, March 25, 2022 09:49:59

Update on recent activities by Tav:

Hallowe’en Rift – 19.03.2022 

Tav and Jon digging, Duncan on the ledge, Brockers and later Nick on the haul and Jake and Brockers on the surface. 110+ bags plus rocks.  

Hallowe’en Rift – 12.03.2022 

Jake and Brockers digging, Nick on the ledge, Tav hauling and stacking at the entrance. 90 bags and a dozen rocks.” 



5th March

digging 2022 Posted on Sun, March 06, 2022 08:39:38

With Brockers, Jon, Jake, and Nick

The session started with Brockers fettling the hangers to which the pot pulley is attached, he then joined Jon to dig, fill bags and haul away the spoil. I was on the ledge, catching the bucket and transferring the load to the skip, Nick was at the entrance to haul the skip along. We had decided that with a smaller team to not have someone at the junction, with some care the skip could be pulled along, there were a few spills and the areas that required more attention noted. Jake was on the surface hauling the spoil away. 40 bags plus an assortment of rocks were moved out of the cave before activities were ceased and we all returned to the surface to meet our guests.

There’s a beer about to be marketed with the name “Halloween Rift” brewed by Wookey Ale. Trevor Hughes, who has shown no interest in HR for 35 years had the cheek to contact the brewers telling how he found the cave, etc. I also sent email to point out the current situation and who is actually active at the cave, adding a link to the blog. The upshot is the brewer’s came up to meet us at the cave, Trevor turned up too, with Kate (TH had been contacted by the brewer).

Socialising put a halt to the digging all that was left to do was empty the bags and secure the cave.

The new craft beer due to launch in April!


26th February

digging 2022 Posted on Sun, February 27, 2022 08:50:31

With Jon, Nick and Tav

A reduced team today due to whatever reasons, no matter.

The first task of the day was to replace the hauling rope on the pot pulley system in the deep Soft South. That done, me and Tav digging, rotating the filling of bags, and hauling up the bucket. Jon was on the ledge catching the bucket to un load the contents. Nick was at the junction and shuttling to and from the entrance where the spoil was temporarily stashed. In between loads Nick occupied himself breaking rocks with a hammer.

At the end of the session, 75 bags filled, hauled, and emptied onto the spoil heap plus about two dozen loads of rocks. A reasonably productive session.



19th February

digging 2022 Posted on Sat, February 19, 2022 18:08:26

With Tav, Duncan, Jake, Jon, Brockers, and Nick

Me and Tav on surface duties after digging last weekend, we alternated emptying bags, building a wall, and hauling. Duncan and Jake took up position at the bottom of the entrance and the junction, respectively. Brockers was in isolation on the ledge, leaving Jon and Nick to do the digging bit. This combination of digging team resulted in alternating batches of sensibly-filled bags and over enthusiastically-filled bags, the heavier bags were less welcomed at the hauling stage as the rope became increasingly claggy as the morning moved on. By the end of the session, 124 bags had been emptied onto the spoil heap, and about two dozen loads of rocks added to the terrace wall or the stockpile. The weather was more settled following Storm Eunice, although it was still breezy and there was the occasional squally shower.



12th February

digging 2022 Posted on Sat, February 12, 2022 16:07:45

With Tav, Jon, Jake, Duncan, Nick, Brockers, and Caroline

The first task of the session was completed by the Technical Manager, Brockers installed a swivel on the pulley attached to the pot hauling system. Me and Tav were digging, alternating the filling of bags, and hauling the bucket up to Jon on the slippery ledge. Some adjustments were made to the hauling system to make operations a bit easier. Jake was at the junction (suffering from plantar fasciitis), Duncan at the bottom of the entrance (nursing a dodgy knee), Brockers and Nick were on the surface, they were later joined by Caroline. Between them the surface team hauled out 110 filled bags, redistributing the contents onto the spoil heap, rocks were added to another fine terrace wall on the upper level that was under construction.

Tav fills bags at the current end of the north-east passage


5th February

digging 2022 Posted on Sat, February 05, 2022 16:38:22

With Jon, Jake, Tav, Brockers, and Nick

Brockers and Nick down in the deep Soft South, Tav on the ledge, Jake at the junction, me at the base of the entrance leaving Jon on the surface. New bags had been supplied to add to the c.100 we already had, it was going to be a busy session, especially so for the solo effort put in by the man at the top!

With regard the data logger…it’s probably better to read and fully understand the operating instruction before installing. Never mind, try again next week. Although I got a reading for today, 10.5OC, 98.5% RH.



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