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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 includes Rob 'Tav' Taviner, Graham 'Jake' Johnson, Nick Hawkes, Matt Tuck, Jonathon Riley, Paul 'Brockers' Brock, Roz Simmonds, Duncan Price and Mike Moxon. There has been occasional help from others including Mike Willett, John 'Tangent' Williams, Pete Bolt, Bob Smith, Callum and Hazel Simmonds, with regular appearances by that well-known antipodean, Ray Deasy.

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.

19th October 2019

digging 2019 Posted on Mon, October 21, 2019 06:27:08

Vince was attending the BCRA 30th Cave Science Symposium being at the British Geological Survey, Keyworth followed on the 20th October by a field trip to Creswell Crags. This account of the activities at Hallowe’en Rift on Saturday was provided by Jon:

“The sagest of the elders took a leave of absence and a small turnout was expected. Jon, Duncan, Jake and Nick were preparing to depart when a storm arrived in the form of the hut warden, Paul, back from his sabbatical. At the farm, Mike was a late arrival, turning up after his preferred digging session was cancelled.

The team divided in two, based on the members’ dress sense.  Jake was dressed in his pub clothes and Mike was dressed for a dig elsewhere. Nick brought a wetsuit in preparation for his expected position within his lake. The others were suitably dressed for underground activities. I won’t comment on frocks.

Initially, Paul and Nick went to the dig face and between them managed to stack bags and rocks back at the corner. The remainder of the team cleared the spoil from the previous digging session, which had been stacked at the junction. Mike and Jake then moved on to surface wall-building activities, while the others re-organised themselves underground.

Paul now took the lead, supported by Jon, and Duncan cleared the spoil at the corner. As the tide was high, wet-suited Nick gallantly stacked in the lake. Paul concentrated his digging efforts on the left-hand side, up towards the calcite feature. At close of play, this was clearly visible. Loose rocks and gravel were removed. The floor now needs to be lowered. A small entrenching tool or spade may be useful next time, but nothing more technical is needed at present.

Pub time approached and the team moved out to clear the lake of spoil. The water remains! At the dig face there are now a dozen or so bags stacked and ready for removal, along with half as much of rock.

57 bags and 25 loads of rock were removed to the surface before the team retired to a local hostelry for light refreshments.”

17th October 2019

digging 2019 Posted on Fri, October 18, 2019 07:29:37

With Duncan, Tav, Jake, Jon, Nick and Mike.

A big turn-out this evening, all eager to enjoy the benefits of a good digging session…

The last application of IRS has the desired effect and there was plenty of rock and gravel to be removed. Tav was digging, filling bags and rolling rocks behind him, where I was immediately behind loading and guiding the skip around the bend. Jon was at the next bend hauling and guiding the skip along it’s way to Mike at the corner north of the lake. The load was transferred to the next skip. Duncan has prepared for his session in the lake and had donned a wetsuit and was adamant that the water did not require bailing. The effects of the sloshing water were apparent later when the wooden ramps at either end of the lake began to float. Nick was out of harms way at the intermediate corner where he was surrounded by solid rock and had no tools. There was a steady flow of bags and rocks to keep him occupied too. Jake was at the Junction, this evening’s final destination for the spoil. All the spoil remained underground awaiting removal to the surface on the next session, Saturday.

Back at the dig, when most of the loose stuff had been cleared away along with some large slabs of fractured rock and calcite a better view of the prospects ahead was possible. It looks interesting and there are tantalising glimpses, but this is Hallowe’en and more digging is required yet. There are options to the left- and the right-sides and air movement can be detected. Another application of IRS is not immediately needed as there is plenty of loose stuff and fractured/shattered rock to be prised free. We have gained a couple of metres or so extra length to the cave this session and it won’t be too long before we’ll have to think about the next staging position, either north of the lake or in it. The problem with stacking in the lake is the water will deepen and we might not be able to find all the spoil.

Wasps nest in the beech tree near to the cave entrance. The wasps have hanging around outside for a couple of weeks now.

15th Ocrober 2019

digging 2019 Posted on Wed, October 16, 2019 06:35:35

With Roz.

A return to the Cold Gnarly North, beyond the lake to continue the quest for the northerly passage, yet to be discovered. There are high hopes. A total of five holes (3no. 550mm length, 2no. 400mm length, all 12mm diameter) drilled and filled, well tamped and fired from the middle of the lake.

A restricted glimpse into whatever lies beyond.

It was a challenge to keep the kit out of the water, especially the drill and lithium ion batteries. Should be stuff to clear on Thursday evening (Wookey Hole dig is flooded at present and I’m at the BCRA Cave Science Symposium at BGS, Keyworth on Saturday).

A quick stop at the Hunter’s Lodge Inn for some refreshments and then home.

12th October 2019

digging 2019 Posted on Sun, October 13, 2019 06:34:55

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

After the recent heavy rain, it wasn’t too surprising the ‘lake’ was no longer dry, it had filled with water to a substantial depth. Jon had drawn the short straw, it was his turn in the ‘lake chamber’ and much of his time was to be occupied with pumping/bailing the water, in between emptying and loading skips. Jake, on the other hand, was most comfortable in the dry, dusty dig. Unfortunately, Jake had worn his pub clothes underneath his caving oversuit and had to cross the lake to get to the dig. Caving kit next session! Tav was next in-line, wallowing in a recurring puddle of my creation as I emptied skip loads of water into an inclined dip in the bedding, where Tav had chosen to lie. Duncan hadn’t needed to venture beyond the lake and was comfortable (his words!) at the intermediate corner. Nick had been left to his own devices at the Junction, which turned out to result in a rather disappointing outcome. On our return from beyond the lake thoroughly soaked through we had then to wallow in the complete mess that Nick had created! And there is a large boulder right in the way of operations.

At the dig, Jake had cleared the debris, frustratingly still can’t quite see ahead, but the area is clear enough for the next application of IRS. There’s a block of conglomerate exposed so something solid to drill into, the quantity of calcite here is problematic. It will be a challenge to get the drill and equipment bags across the lake and keep them dry.

55 loads were removed from the cave to the surface, a few of those were completely un-necessary.

8th October 2019

digging 2019 Posted on Wed, October 09, 2019 07:01:45

Vince and Roz.

Back again! Another look into the space beyond, it becomes more enticing every time I look at it.

Striving for the space beyond!

6no. holes (5no. to 400mm and 1no. 550mm length, 12mm diameter) were drilled and filled, spaced to shake-up the calcited rocks and blocks of conglomerate. Fired from the ‘lake’ chamber, no wetter than it was yesterday evening. All sounded good, flying rock was heard. Should be stuff to clear on the weekend.

5th October 2019

digging 2019 Posted on Sun, October 06, 2019 07:40:30

Vince, Jake, Jon, Nick, Tav and Pete Bolt.

The main task of the morning was to clear up after another application of IRS. With a team of six we could get the spoil back to the Junction. I went ahead to reel in the wire and to check that all had gone according to plan. It had and there was plenty of debris. I moved back to the dry ‘lake’ and Nick set about filling bags and shifting fractured rocks. The initial line-up was; Nick clearing, Jake and Tav moving the spoil away and transferring the spoil into the skip hauled by me in the lake chamber, the load dumped into the next skip, hauled away by Pete at the intermediate corner and then, to Jon at the Junction where the spoil was temporarily stashed.

Things were progressing smoothly, then I needed a comfort break and returned to the surface, Pete and Jon moved one position forward. I returned, relieved, and took up position at the Junction for a short while. Then Jake passed by needing a comfort break, so we all moved forward one position. Meanwhile, the spoil was still being cleared away despite the positional changes.

A rumour had been spread from the ‘north’ that things had gone from “looking good” to looking “very good”. Hammering could be heard in the distance and spoil removal had stalled. Some of the team headed back to start clearing the stash of filled bags and rocks out to the surface. I wanted to get a look at the end to plan for another mid-week application of some chemical persuasion and Pete also wanted to see the current end, so we moved forward to join Nick.

Nick was trying to coax a couple of obstinate boulders out of their position where they were impeding the view of the space ahead. They were loose but there was not quite enough gap for their removal. Eventually, with a combined effort the offending rocks were removed and a good look at the prospects ahead was possible. It looked good, straight ahead was open space, about 2m length x c.2m width x c.0.2m height, there appears to be a continuation to the left (?north) but this cannot be confirmed yet. There is air movement. The initial progress forward is constricted by calcited boulders that will require some loosening; the mid-week task is clear. If all goes to plan, we’ll get an even better look at it next weekend.

Satisfied with the prospects we headed out to help clear the cave of spoil, 54 loads in total – 34 bags and 20 skip-loads of rock. Pub time.

Both digs (Wookey Hole and Hallowe’en Rift) have positive outcomes this week. How good is that!

1st October 2019

digging 2019 Posted on Tue, October 01, 2019 22:10:00

Vince and Roz.

We got caught in a heavy rain shower as we walked up across the field into the wood. Underground it was relatively dry including the “lake”.

At the aven, the effort was concentrated around the ‘wobbly’ rock to the right-side of the aven. There seems to be some air movement emanating from the currently restricted space beyond. It looks interesting enough, let’s see how it develops. 5no. holes, 550mm length x 12mm diameter, drilled and filled. The evenings task was brought to a satisfactory conclusion from the “lake” chamber. All good!

Drilling holes with the new Bosch hammer drill.

Back on the surface, the heavy rain had ceased, just drizzly rain. Should be plenty to shift on Saturday.

28th September 2019

digging 2019 Posted on Mon, September 30, 2019 06:24:37

The following report was written by Jon: 

“With some members away at conference, some away on courses and others convalescing overseas, the Saturday meeting was barely quorate.  Tav, Nick, Jake and Jon attended; just enough to clear spoil back to the Lake.

The team made a prompt start, arriving early at the hut and finding it in a remarkably clean and tidy state.  Knowing that the Hut Warden was overseas, the team quickly concluded that Ladies Day had been a huge success.  A motion was proposed and passed uncontested; henceforth, women will be allowed to enter the changing hut.

In an extraordinary departure from previous practice, the team immediately identified the correct key and took it with them to the entrance rift.

The aim of the day was to remove the bang debris from Vince’s midweek visit.  Jon took the lead position and was presented with a veritable scree-slope.  Once cleared, the access into the Aven was somewhat wider than previously.  On the right-hand side, below the Aven, small fractured pieces of rock were removed from around the calcited blocks, one of which is now loose but still in place.  It is now possible to see beyond the blocks.  The view is similar to rest of the cave, appearing to be a shallow bedding with airspace above. 

Given the recent rainfall, it was expected that the ‘lake’ would be full.  None of the team had brought a wetsuit, but Tav volunteered to take that position.  Surprisingly, the ‘lake’ was completely dry.  32 bags of spoil and 18 skips of rock were initially stacked there, and then removed to the surface.  The team then retired to a local hostelry for light refreshment.”

24th September 2019

digging 2019 Posted on Wed, September 25, 2019 06:16:30

Vince and Roz.

Continued the expansion of the passage into the aven in the Cold Gnarly North. It’s still nice and dry despite the recent heavy rain.

4no. holes to c.500mm length x 12mm diameter drilled and filled. Fired from the Junction, sounded okay. There should be some work for the Saturday team. Me, I’m off to Hidden Earth, the national caving conference being held this year at Glyndwr University, Wrexham where I’ve booked a stand for the BCRA Cave Archaeology Special Interest Group (SIG).

21st September 2019

digging 2019 Posted on Sun, September 22, 2019 06:24:50

Vince, Jake, Jon, Brockers, Nick and Tav.

A good strong team today meant that the spoil could be transported back to the bottom of the entrance rather than being temporarily stashed in the lake chamber.

I went ahead to reel in the wire and to check that all was good with the IRS, and it was.

There was plenty of gravel, cobbles and boulders of fractured rock to be shifted (I offered to swap places with Jon and Nick but they both declined). As the spoil was removed the then the passage became more spacious and was rather comfortable, digging was eventually possible from a hands and knees position and the skip run was fine. When the loose stuff had been cleared away there was some hammer and barring to be done to remove most of the fractured rock leaving a clean ‘face’ for the next application of IRS on Tuesday. It’s a bit easier to get into the aven but still on the snug side, that can be remedied. Jon came forward to have a look at the future digging prospects before going back to the cave entrance to assist in clearing the spoil out of the cave. A total of 71 loads were hauled out of the cave, 47 bags and 24 loads of rock. Another fine effort!

17th September 2019

digging 2019 Posted on Wed, September 18, 2019 06:04:26

Vince, Jake, Jon and Tav.

Jake, Jon and Tav cleared the rocks that were still in the cave and did some walling on the surface. The large rocks that had accumulated around the cave entrance were used too.

Me, I made my way to the Cold Gnarly North to drill holes, 5no. (split 2no. and 3no.) pilot holes, 250mm x 14mm, then extended to 400mm x 12mm (first battery ran-out on the 5th extension). The group of 3no. holes placed on the right side of the approach to the aven were extended further to 550mm x 12mm. these were a bit problematic, the bit kept jamming, not good rock, a lot of calcite vughs, slowed the process somewhat. Eventually though all the holes were filled, tamped and wired ready to go. Both bags packed, drill bits in the tube, these were pushed ahead while I reeled out the wire. The evening’s task brought to a satisfactory conclusion at the Junction. Hopefully, there will be plenty to clear on Saturday.

The cave entrance has another replacement lock to secure it.

14th September 2019

digging 2019 Posted on Sun, September 15, 2019 08:30:33

Vince, Tav, Duncan, Jon and Jake.

Met up with Tav and Duncan at the Hunter’s Lodge Inn at the usual time, 10:00. Jon cycled to the farm as he’s carless – something about pheasants and windscreens. Jake later joined us underground.

The bang did good! We were greeted by a considerable pile of fractured rock and gravel. The larger lumps of rock were reduced to more manageable pieces, the gravel was put into bags and the spoil made its way to be temporarily stashed in the ‘lake’ chamber. The loose material had been removed, some hammer and chisel work cleared the fractured material from the roof. It had taken quite a while to clear the debris so only the bags of gravel made it out to the surface, the rocks remain. We plan to return on Tuesday evening for a rock removal session, also another application of IRS. It’s all starting to come together. Happy days!

11th September 2019

digging 2019 Posted on Thu, September 12, 2019 05:57:12

The pre-drilled holes have been filled, wires joined and button pressed. The application of IRS complete, there should be a pile of debris to shift on Saturday morning.

9th September 2019

digging 2019 Posted on Tue, September 10, 2019 06:48:08


I have purchased a replacement drill, this time I’ve opted for a Bosch 36v heavy duty professional model. The drill has two 2ah batteries and I was unsure how many holes I would be able to drill so decided to go and find out before purchasing any supplies. I also wanted to photograph an interesting exposure of calcite flowstone before it gets covered in mud.

Underground, I took the photographs first. Seems like more evidence for the effects of Pleistocene frost/ice on speleothems in Hallowe’en Rift. An interesting point, recently I have read several archaeological excavation reports for site such as Paviland Cave and Pontnewydd Cave (both in Wales) that record fragments/clasts of speleothem within a matrix of other sediment, some of this has been dated. The dates have some correlation with glacial/interglacial cycles during the Quaternary.

Calcite flowstone exposure in the Cold Gnarly North

Onto the drilling, the first thing I noticed is that the Bosch drill is lighter and smaller, easier to use in constricted space. 1st battery: 4no. pilot holes 250mm x 14mm, these were then extended using 400mm x 12mm drill bit. The 1st battery just started to fade on the 4th extension, so hardly used the 2nd battery. Very pleased with the tool. Packed everything away and left the cave. I’ll be back tomorrow to finish the job!

7th September 2019

digging 2019 Posted on Sun, September 08, 2019 06:13:08

Vince, Tav, Jake and Jon.

Me first reeling in the wire, followed by Tav, Jake and then Jon who, nursing a tennis elbow, opted for the more spacious and now dry “lake” chamber.

There was a bang to clear and a very good job it had done too. Some of the loose gravel and cobble-sized fragments were bagged up before getting to work on the large slab of rock that had been detached from the roof. A few hefty blows with a lump hammer and then used a bar to prise apart the fractured slab the resultant lumps of rock were rolled back to Tav. A few of the lumps were further reduced before being dispatched by Jake to Jon in the “lake” chamber where the debris was temporarily being stored. Then we returned to removing the remaining gravel and cobble-sized fragments.

All the debris cleared, a brief visit to the aven with Tav and a short discussion about prospects and the next step – another application of IRS to ease access into the aven and improve the route for the removal of spoil in the future. There is a low, possibly phreatic, arch just to the right-side of the squeeze into the aven that might be an option for some further attention.

Then all back to clear out the “lake” chamber and get the spoil to the surface. Thirty bags were hauled out but, as time was getting on, about twenty skip loads of rock were left at the bottom of the entrance for another day. Good session!

3rd September 2019

digging 2019 Posted on Wed, September 04, 2019 06:40:16

Vince and Roz.

Continuing the expansion of the passage north. 3no. holes in the floor and 1no. in the roof, hole dimensions: 550mm length x 12mm dia., 250mm x 14mm pilot holes were drilled first. It’s a bit awkward with the long bit in the low passage. Alas, it might have been the final journey for my drill, there was a lot of acrid smoke and I struggled to retrieve the 550mm drill bit from the last hole – I bet the warranty has ended too! Never mind. The evenings task was concluded at the junction, all sounded good.

We didn’t stop at the Hunter’s as it was later than expected and had an early’ish start in the morning.

31st August 2019

digging 2019 Posted on Sat, August 31, 2019 21:01:00

Vince, Jake, Nick and Jon.

A smaller team today, numbers depleted by a journey to the ‘real’ Cold Gnarly North, a wedding and the pull of a disco beat. Never mind, four was still an okay number.

Nick forged ahead followed by Jake, Jon next in line directing skip movements, I was in the relatively dry ‘lake’ chamber where the spoil, in the form of filled bags and loose rocks, was temporarily stored.

Digging continued at a steady pace until 12:15 when we decided that it was time to clear out the spoil from the cave, a task that was to require a couple of stages, the spoil temporarily re-located to the bottom of the entrance before its final destination was attained. A total of 33 bags and 6 very full skip loads of rocks out to the surface.

At the end of this morning’s session some discussion about the re-construction of the fallen wall included an ambitious expansion plan, we do have plenty of stones and there will be more.

24th August 2019

digging 2019 Posted on Sun, August 25, 2019 05:56:43

Vince, Nick, Jon, Brockers and Tav.

When we arrived at the cave entrance it was apparent that there had been an isolated collapse of the retaining wall. The most likely explanation is a slump of the material behind the wall as it became saturated in a recent deluge. However, anthropogenic interference cannot be ruled out either.

I was at the digging end of the Cold Gnarly North aided by Nick who was also, there was loose material remaining from the last session that needed bagging up. Jon was in the ‘lake chamber’, it didn’t appear to be any wetter than it was at the end of the last visit. Jon was digging too. The Lake Chamber Dewatering Project was underway, a low, small phreatic arch that Nick had noticed was exploited and there is a sandy silt layer that with a bit of work might allow the water to drain through. Brockers took up position at the intermediate corner and I suspect he found something to poke at in between loads. Tav was at the ‘junction’, at the end of the line, hauled the loaded skip and emptied the contents, the spoil was stacked in the entrance, so time was saved at the end of the session. Everyone was busy.

On arrival at the end of the Cold Gnarly North, Nick commented that there had been a change since his last trip up to the dig. The bedding has been expanded considerably and after this session is even roomier. The route up to the aven is relatively comfortable but there is scope for more improvement here. There is plenty of loose gravel and compacted fine sediment to be removed on the route to the aven. Access into the aven will need some attention but it appears ‘diggable’. Air movement is felt at the current end of the Cold Gnarly North but pinpointing its origins is not so easy. Nick and I discussed the origins of the fills and the potential ways forward, there are several options, all require the removal of a considerable quantity of sediments. There is a low arch to the east side of the aven that might be a possibility.

Time had passed quickly, and we left the Cold Gnarly North to move todays stack of filled bags and rocks out to the surface. 45 bags and 16 loads of rock were added to the spoil heap. A fine effort.

17th August 2019

digging 2019 Posted on Sun, August 25, 2019 05:54:59

I was away digging on Gower with Jon, others had their own commitments, consequently there was no activity at Hallowe’en Rift.

10th August 2019

digging 2019 Posted on Sun, August 11, 2019 07:07:10

With Tav, Jon, Nick and Brockers.

We continued the work to expand the passage in the Cold Gnarly North. Tav digging, his efforts concentrated on trying to remove one of the ‘calcited ribs’ in the floor that make progress forward a tiny bit awkward. Tav worked with hammer, chisel, bar and, due to the slightly constricted passage size, pushed the resultant debris behind him. I then bagged the gravel, the filled bags and larger rocks were loaded into the skip which I dragged back to the small rift, the load transferred into the next skip to be hauled by Nick to the ‘lake’ chamber, the next transfer station. Jon was lying in the intermediate corner, on the ‘bed’ I had prepared for him earlier hauled the next skip back before it continued it’s journey down to Brockers at the junction near the entrance. The skip arrived at its final destination and was unloaded and returned to from where whence it came. The filled bags and loose rocks were stored ready to be removed later.

Nick, in between skips, tried to dig a drainage hole in the ‘lake’, the water had been scooped into a temporary trough (supplied by Tav), so several bags of slurry were added to the spoil heap. Brockers probably did some ‘tidying’ too.

All too soon it was time to move back and clear the spoil from the cave. Todays tally: 59 bags and 12 skip loads of rock. Some of the rock was added to the wall.

Tuesday’s survey of the west-side of HR revealed some interesting results and there is renewed vigour to the cause. Basically, there are several options at the end that might be productive. Enough to keep us occupied for quite some time!

6th August 2019

digging 2019 Posted on Wed, August 07, 2019 09:07:30

With Duncan and Tav

There was a plan: Duncan and Tav were surveying the western passages, the recent foci of attention, while I wanted to take some more sediment samples.

My first sample location was at the top of Merlin’s, just before the Slippery Slope. The roots are getting longer. After taking the sample, I climbed down into Tuck Shop, just for a look around really, then back up the slope into Another Emotional Journey. Took the passage on the right towards the T-Junction and Trick or Treat beyond. The duck into Trick or Treat was dry and didn’t look like it had any water in it for some time. A thorough re-acquaintance with Trick or Treat before returning to T-Junction and crawling into Toil and Trouble.

Looking down through Toil and Trouble

The next sample was taken from the end of the passage leading off ‘T and T’ where I had recovered the Bison bone. The roots are really long here. Then back down ‘T and T’, up Witches Cauldron and to the western passages to rejoin the others. I had forgotten just how much passage there is in the ‘lower’ series of the cave.

I still had enough time to visit the south-western passage before the surveyors returned from the Cold Gnarly North, their mission completed. Air movement had been noted at the end of both passages, especially the north.

3rd August 2019

digging 2019 Posted on Sat, August 03, 2019 17:57:59

With Brockers, Duncan, Tav and Jon.

No IRS to clear this weekend but there’s plenty of scope for digging, Brockers at the vanguard. Duncan was next in line, clearing back from the dig and loading the skip to Tav in the ‘lake chamber’. Tav spent a short time re-constructing the ramp to ease the passage of the skip. A dozen or so bags were emptied here to consolidate the running boards. When Tav was satisfied with the ramp the were then hauled along the passage to the junction near the entrance. I was in the intermediate spot, Jon at the junction where the loaded skips were decanted, and the spoil stacked awaiting removal to the surface later in the session.

Things settled to a good steady pace as a succession of skips were filled, hauled and emptied. It didn’t seem long until it was time to think about clearing out the spoil stacked at the junction. Digging ceased and we moved back to haul out the backlog of bags and rocks. About 50 loads were removed to the surface and distributed on the spoil heap. Satisfied with the morning’s effort, the cave was secured, and we made our way down to the farm. Refreshments were taken at the Hunter’s Lodge Inn as usual.

27th July 2019

digging 2019 Posted on Sat, July 27, 2019 16:41:14

With Jake, Jon, Brockers, Duncan and Mike Moxon.

Good to see Mike turn-up to help-out, extra hands always welcome. Got last weeks IRS to clear in the Cold Gnarly North today, no lounging about in the comfort of the Soft South. I went ahead to reel in the wire followed by Brockers with a new skip and hauling ropes. Jon was in the, still wet, ‘lake’ chamber, Duncan settled into the corner, Mike and Jake were at the junction/bend and the bottom of the entrance where the spoil was stashed ready to be removed later at the end of the session.

Last weeks application of IRS had the desired effect and there was a considerable pile of fragmented rock and gravel waiting to be cleared. While Brockers sorted the skip, I started to bag up some of the gravel and move some of the rock. Some of the larger slabs of rock were shifted back to Brockers who reduced them to skip size. By the end of the session the passage was wider and higher, access to the further reaches is considerably improved, although a bit more digging will make it even better, of course. Another bedding development with arched roof to the left and right sides is visible and air movement is noticeable. A bit more digging is needed to see if this is significant, or not. The debris cleared, time to move back and haul out the bags and rocks from the entrance. Meeting Jon in the ‘lake’ chamber it was pointed out that the new skip is worn-out already and needs replacing. There was also, a brief discussion about the “left-handedness” of the skips, causing them to snag, the decision to make some “right-handed” skips was agreed on, Duncan said he will follow this up in time for next week’s session.

A final count of 51 loads were removed from the cave to the surface comprised of 33 bags of gravel and 18 skip loads of fragmented rock. The rock was added to the evermore impressive wall and the gravel used to consolidate behind the rock.

Good session. Pub!

23rd July 2019

digging 2019 Posted on Wed, July 24, 2019 06:25:30

With Jake

Due to circumstances, some beyond his control, Jake hasn’t been to An Unexpected Development, 28th July 2018 was the date of his last digging trip along the approach passage. Then went on holiday, injured knee, surgery followed, almost a year to get back into it.

Managed to pack the requisite kit into one bag – hand/lifeline, ladder, tapes and steel karabiners. It was a very warm and humid walk up to the cave entrance. Once in the cave it was much cooler and we had a very pleasant evening spent appreciating a fine bit of cave passage and talking a few things over.

20th July 2019

digging 2019 Posted on Sun, July 21, 2019 06:55:32

With Jake, Jon, Brockers and Tav

We assembled at the usual time, 10:00, in the Hunter’s car park. Waited around a while for Nick, although Nick did say on Thursday evening, he might not be available, so headed down towards Wookey Hole, to the farm. Got changed and walked across the fields to the cave entrance in the woods. Then, another key moment, when I came to unlock the gate the key that had been in my caving helmet was no longer there. So, I had to retrace my steps to search for the missing key, Jon came along to help. Luckily the key wasn’t too far down the path and we returned to Hallowe’en Rift and the gate unlocked.

Brockers led the way to the Cold Gnarly North, he’s been absent for a couple of weeks and keen to get back into the swing of things. There were plenty of bags and loose rocks to be cleared from the “lake” chamber, there’s still standing water here. I went ahead to continue the expansion work beyond, Brockers helped with the bags, keeping them out of the water.

In the small rift chamber, I unpacked the kit and set about drilling the required holes. There was a rather disconcerting moment when a large, quite heavy flake of rock detached from the roof and landed, painfully, on my left knee. 4no. holes, 550mm (length) x 12mm (dia.) were drilled, some short, 260mm, 14mm (dia.) pilot holes were drilled first, makes things a bit easier in the restricted space. Then the holes were filled, I turned around, “Goodness, Gracious, Great Balls of Tamp”, six balls of silt/clay, all in a row thoughtfully prepared by the team last week. Good tamp too. All done, I wired up and made my way south to join the others, shoving my bags and drill tube ahead while unravelling the wire.

After clearing last week’s debris, the rest of the team had returned to the Soft South to continue digging. There was a stack of bags in the entrance to be hauled out to the surface before my morning’s task was brought to a satisfying conclusion with a resounding boom.

All out, the cave secured, we made our way back down across the fields to the farm. Another productive morning, 73 bags and 12 loads of loose rock, Jake had managed some walling too!

13th July 2019

digging 2019 Posted on Mon, July 15, 2019 20:52:41

I was away this weekend, digging on Gower, the following report was submitted by Jon:

“Only three of the digging team (Jon, Tav and Duncan) were available for duty. All arrived in good time and made a prompt start at the farm. Ignoring recent tradition, the team picked up the key before walking up the hill.

The task for the day was the removal of bang debris from the Gnarly North. There were too few diggers to haul around the corner at the top of the slope in one go, so the team were forced to stack rocks and bags of gravel along the side of the lake.

Duncan took the lead position and Tav volunteered for the deeper lake, leaving Jon to stack along the side of the shallow lake. All the bang debris was removed to this point. Then the team retired for some liquid refreshment.

Only one bag was successfully removed to the surface. It contained the bang
wire. This is now to be found in the shed.”

6th July 2019

digging 2019 Posted on Sat, July 06, 2019 16:22:00

With Jon, Nick and Tav.

The Cold Gnarly North was my destination today, the others decided to dig in the Soft South, which is the easier, more comfortable option.

Drag line attached, bags attached, drill tube and wire reel in hand I set off along the passage north. I was a bit surprised to find that there were two puddles of standing water, 50mm – 75mm depth, in the ‘lake’ but it wasn’t an issue. My plan was to widen the next constriction just beyond the small
rift to improve access and make digging and spoil removal easier. Drilled 4no. holes, 550mm, length x 12mm, diameter and charged. I looked around for “Trevor’s ball of tamp” that I had put to one side for safe keeping, but it had gone, added to the spoil heap I assume. Unfortunately, this is probably the only part of the cave where there is not any mud suitable for tamp. I had to make do with arisings and the little bit of mud that I could scrape up.

All done, I made my way south, dragging/shoving by bags and kit along the passage while reeling out the wire. At the junction, the ‘Soft Southerners’ were about finished digging, just the hauling out and emptying of bags to be
done, so I gave them a helping hand. About 70 bags were hauled to the surface and emptied. When the bags were all empty, I returned underground to bring my morning’s task to a satisfactory conclusion.

Then down the hill to the farm in the warm sunshine, changed and up the hill to the Hunter’s for refreshments.

29th June 2019

digging 2019 Posted on Sat, July 06, 2019 16:21:25

I was at a BCRA Field Meeting – Hypogenic Caves of the North Pennines, UNESCO Global Geopark at Nenthead. The rest of the team had other commitments, no digging took place.

22nd June 2019

digging 2019 Posted on Sat, June 22, 2019 15:37:04

With Jon and Brockers

A small team assembled for today’s activities and it was soon
decided that the best and most effective use of manpower was to dig in the Soft

While Jon packed bags, Brockers went ahead to start digging and I headed
up to the Cold Gnarly North. I wanted to look and make an assessment for the
next phase of IRS and expand the low grovel that is the continuation north. On the
way back to join the others I scraped up the loose material lying in the low

Back in the “comfort” of the Soft South I took my position
stacking bags in the entrance ready to be removed later. Jon was at the
junction/bend and Brockers was busily digging away.

It was a pleasant way to spend the morning, chattering away to Jon,
stopping occasionally to stack another bag in the entrance. It’s surprising how
big the pile gets as the session progresses.

Then the time came to clear-out the spoil, Jon and I went up to
the surface and took it in turns to haul up the skip. Brockers remained below
ground to load the skip. When all the bags were out of the cave, they were then
emptied onto the spoil heap and the bags hung-up to dry. Today’s tally; 49
filled and emptied bags, and a stone that didn’t qualify as a load or even half
a load really.

15th June 2019

digging 2019 Posted on Fri, June 21, 2019 07:26:55

Another flint knapping
workshop at Butser Ancient Farm for me. I didn’t dig but the rest of the team
did. The following report was written by Jon:



1. A state of confusion, bad organization, or untidiness, or something
that is in this state.

2. A butcher’s slaughterhouse
(archaic except in place names).

3. Five diggers at Halloween
Rift on Saturday 15th June 2019.

The usual call to action is via a text-based messaging system
(e-mail). This week, attempts were made to circumvent this and use
instead a text-based messaging system (SMS). Four members of the team
(Tav, Nick, Duncan and Jon) assembled at the appointed hour. A fifth
member (Paul) sent a message to indicate he was running late.

The team patiently waited and, after further reference to the
messaging system, waited some more. Finally giving up on the latecomer,
the team moved on to the farm, to be met by the latecomer. For his sins,
he was appointed hut warden.

With echoes of past failures, the team set out without a
key. A Sage Elder saved the day; a runner was despatched to get
one. Fortunately, a second team member also went back and got the correct

Effort was directed at the Cold Gnarly North, with Paul in the
lead. Nick took the wet spot, in his lake. Tav hauled at the
corner, a position gaining a reputation for being cold and miserable.
Duncan and Jon hauled and stacked at the entrance. 44 bags of spoil and
11 loads of rock were removed. Paul reports that this was largely loose
spoil that had previously been stacked along the sides of the passage.

The team learnt from their earlier mistakes and made sure that
they finished on time. They then retired to a local hostelry for liquid

…or rather, three team members did. Those who had manned the
wetter, colder positions went straight home.”

8th June 2019

digging 2019 Posted on Sat, June 08, 2019 22:15:40

With Jon, Brockers and Nick

We made a return to the Cold Gnarly North to finish off the job we
had started last weekend. Jon was the first to cross the “sea of slurry” and go
up to the nice dry bit to fill bags. Somehow, Brockers had talked himself into
the cold mucky job in the slurry, I was positioned at the bend in the north
passage just beyond the first “pinch-point”, Nick was at the junction where he
stashed the filled bags and rocks, although some went to the bottom of the
entrance too.

Although my position had started off dry it was soon rather wet
and squalid with a good deal of splashback coming from the haul-rope, at least
the skip route was well lubricated.

Jon cleared the loose debris left-over from the IRS and quite a
bit more stuff too, Brockers busied himself improving the access to the passage
north from the “lake”, Nick, meanwhile was quietly digging something, anything,
it’s like a ‘nervous-twitch’. The stash of spoil was accumulating.

Eventually, it was decided that we shift back and clear-out the accumulated
spoil from the cave. Some quite large boulders had appeared, and they hadn’t
come from the north. They were to stay below ground ready to be hauled-out
another day. There were 64 loads hauled to the surface today, 48 filled bags
and 16 skip-loads of rocks.

The warmth of the June sunshine was very welcome after spending a
couple of hours or so in the Cold Gnarly North.

1st June 2019

digging 2019 Posted on Sun, June 02, 2019 06:38:08

With Jon, Nick and Tav

The only plan for today was to clear the debris from last
weekend’s application of IRS up in the Cold Gnarly North. While the others were
packaging the dry bags ready for use later, I went ahead to reel in the wire.

On arrival at the “pinch-point” it was evident that the IRS had
been effective, further progress prevented by a “wall” of shattered rock and
gravel. Initially, spoil removal wasn’t easy, the skip was a bit too big for
the passage and difficult to load, the larger lumps of rock were moved behind
me then, I reversed along the passage, kicking the rocks ahead to a place where
Jon could reach them.

Eventually, I was able to squeeze over the top of the rock and
gravel pile and get into the small “chamber” beyond, from there it was easier
to load the skip and the spoil removal was more rapid. The larger cobbles and
boulders placed directly into the skip, Jon sent up some empty bags for the
smaller cobbles and gravel. Interestingly, as the “wall” of debris was
breached, a feint movement of air could be detected.

We hadn’t finished the rubble clearance, when word come to us that
there was a large accumulation of spoil that needed to be taken up to the
surface. Jon came up to have a brief look at the progress so far, while I set
about with a hammer and chisel to remove some fractured rock flakes from the
roof. We then left to join the others and clear out the cave.

It was noticed that Jon appeared to have a liberal coating of mud,
whether he was particularly happy about this was difficult to gauge, his face
masked in a veil of mud. Apparently, the shallow puddles that had remained in
the “lake” chamber had quickly turned to slurry with the passage of skips, this
creating splashback from the haul-rope and the skips made quite a splash on
arrival. We were, of course, unsympathetic.

It was positively tropical on the surface, and the flies are
starting to make a comeback. It had been noted, that below ground, bluebottles
were annoyingly present. Anyway, today’s final count: 31 bags, filled and
emptied, and 28 skip-loads of rock, more wall building material. There is still
plenty of loose spoil to be removed from the area of the, now former,

25th May 2019

digging 2019 Posted on Sat, May 25, 2019 21:03:46

With Duncan, Brockers, Jon, Nick and Tav

I had to collect some supplies at 09:00 and then met the team at
the Hunter’s 10:00. From there we drove down to the farm. I stayed behind for a
while at the farm to prep things, the others got changed and made their way up
to the cave to get digging underway, they carried some of my stuff up to the
cave with them. When I had thing sorted I made my way up to Hallowe’en Rift to
join the others.

The digging team had decided to dig in the Soft South, I picked up
my bags and other gear and headed to the Cold Gnarly North. My plan was to
apply some induced rapid speleogenesis and enlarge the next pinch-point and so
ease progress towards our objective. The puddle wasn’t quite as dry as had been
predicted and there was still some slurry in places, nothing to worry about too
much. Dragged the kit through the constriction and drilled 4no. holes, 12mm
dia. x 550mm length. There wasn’t any sediment around suitable for tamp so
decided to make my way up to the terminal [at
least for now
] aven. Looking around I found a ‘ball’ of mud, Trevor’s ‘ball
of tamp’. I returned to the focus of today and completed the next phase, and
then, pushing all my kit ahead, made my way south, unravelling the wire as I went.

The digging team were just finishing up, 100 bags and a rock, the
tally for this session. When all were out of the cave, the proceedings were
brought to a satisfactory end. The cave entrance secured, we made our way back
down to the farm in the warm sunshine, got changed and up to the Hunter’s for refreshments.

Some of the afternoon was spent cleaning kit.

18th May 2019

digging 2019 Posted on Sun, May 19, 2019 06:11:54

I attended a Flint Knapping Workshop at Butser Ancient Farm (Chalton,
Hampshire) today. The rest of the team were at Hallowe’en Rift, the following summary
of the morning’s activities penned by Tav:

“Tav, Duncan, Brockers, Jon, Jake and Alex

Tav installed the hose extension into the old dig (which in the
end wasn’t needed) and then headed up to the Cold Gnarly North armed with the
new pump and main hose, which Dunc straightened out to ease the flow of water.
While Tav pumped the pool, the rest of the team continued work in the
Soft South (Jon’s report to follow). The new pump worked very well and cleared
almost all the water until it finally became blocked with slurry when down to
the final dregs. Both pump and hose were later removed for cleaning. With the
water gone, Tav set about clearing the bang debris, which was strewn quite a
long way down the crawl in mostly handy plate-sized lumps. A few larger pieces
were levered off the roof and wall, but these were easily broken up with a lump
hammer. It proved a long drag back down the crawl and across the bed of the
ex-lake, to reach the skip which Dunc hauled up from his familiar position on
the corner. However, all proceeded smoothly and by close of play all the bang
debris had successfully been removed.”

Jon’ account of the morning’s activities:

Tav and Duncan addressed matters in the Cold Gnarly North, the rest of
the team (Jon, Paul, Jake and Alex) resumed work in the Soft South.

returned to underground duties, initially working at the junction.
Alex, who cycled to the morning’s activities, was lightly dressed and
only ventured to
the bottom of the entrance shaft. That left Paul and Jon once again
working at the dig face…

the music stopped. The first time this happened, Alex found himself at
the surface, with Duncan at the bottom of the entrance. The second
time, Duncan
had returned North, Jake was at the bottom of the entrance and Jon was
at the junction. At the third time of asking, Alex and Jake shared
surface duties Jon loaded at the entrance and Paul manned the junction…

…and so on.

Total tally for the day from both ends was 70 bags and 16 rocks.
Another useful session.”

11th May 2019

digging 2019 Posted on Sun, May 12, 2019 06:49:36

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

For me, the first stop of the day was to collect the necessary
supplies for the task ahead and then meet the team in the Hunter’s car park at
the allotted time.

In the cave, while the others were digging in the Soft South, I headed
to the Cold Gnarly North to apply the IRS. Keeping the kit out of the puddle
was my main concern; as I had found to my cost previously, lithium ion
batteries do not like getting wet! Luckily there is a shelf on one-side where
the kit could be laid-out. Then to the drilling, I spent some time trying to
work-out whether I could achieve the task in hand and stay reasonably dry, I quickly
came to the realisation that this wasn’t going to be the case. I drilled 4no.
14mm x 260mm pilot holes in the required locations, that was okay, it was the
full length, 12mm x 550mm holes that required me to lie flat-out in the puddle.
Once soaked, I began to feel a bit chilly. Anyway, with a bit of care, the task
was completed and the kit re-packed. I went back to retrieve the wire reel from
where I had left it, Duncan came up to take the drill and bit tube. I returned
through the puddle. All wired-up, I made my way back south to join the team.

Brockers and Jon were digging and filling the last few bags. Duncan,
at the bend/junction was hauling the loaded skip part-way then Nick, at the
bottom of the entrance, pulled the skip the rest of the way. The load was
transferred to the surface skip where Jake and Tav were rotating the hauling
and emptying, in the pleasantly warm morning sunshine. The count for today; 120
loads, 110 bags and 12 loads of rock (some of these were ‘extra’s’ provided by
Nick, who just can’t help himself).

When all were out of the cave, my task was brought to a
satisfactory conclusion. The gate was replaced, and the cave made secure. We left
to walk down to the farm. The usual refreshments at the Hunter’s followed,
although I didn’t tarry long, I was still cold so returned home to soak in a
hot bath.

Just the caving kit and other equipment to clean in the afternoon.

4th May 2019

digging 2019 Posted on Sun, May 05, 2019 05:50:40

Note: no activities took place last weekend (27th April). I was over on the Gower
peninsular digging with Jon and Alex at Harry Thomas’s Cave, Overton. Others
had their own commitments.

With Brockers, Duncan, Jon and Jake

The digging effort, once again, was concentrated in the Soft South
due to numbers, and there is still a puddle in the Cold Gnarly North. Brockers
and Duncan were digging and filling bags, Brockers worked on the east-side,
Duncan to the west. I was at the junction (more like a bend, really), Jon at
the bottom of the entrance, Jake on the surface.

While Jon was replacing the skip, I ventured up to the north to
collect some tools and can confirm, there is still a pool of water. As I was
there anyway I had a good look at the way ahead and gave some thought to an
easier solution to moving forward. I arrived at the decision that some ‘rapidly
induced speleogenesis’ might prove fruitful, if I had some help to keep the kit
dry. It’ll be a lot quicker than digging, I’ll ponder and see if I can make
some arrangements. I remembered to collect some tools although the big bar
could not be located.

Back at the dig, we settled into a steady rate of removal and the
banter flowed freely. Now that I was wet, the draught from the south-west
passage was increasingly noticeable, as the session progressed I became cooler.

Towards the end of the session, Duncan had wormed his way into a
small space, a possible cross-rift, that was interesting but requires some more
work to fully see what’s going on. This was the last action of the day and we
exited the cave. Jake had hauled and emptied 66 bags and 2 skip-loads of rock
onto the spoil heap.

Walking back across the fields to the farm, I had a feeling that I
was missing something, then it dawned on me – my camera. I returned to the cave
and to retrieve it – another senior moment!

20th April 2019

digging 2019 Posted on Sun, April 21, 2019 06:20:51

With Brockers, Nick, Jon and Tav
A view from the Junction. Jon to the north assists with the pipe from the pump. To the east Tav, at the bottom of the entrance, contemplates, it was sunny on the surface.
Today circumstances dictated that the digging effort was to be
concentrated beyond the former ‘pinch-point’ in the cold, Gnarly North. The perceived
‘dry and dusty’ conditions did not come to fruition and pumping was deemed to
be required. Unfortunately, this action was a failure, the pump sprang a leak and
did not work, so the pump and all its attachments were removed to be fettled,
back at Tav’s place. This left Nick and Brockers to wallow in a larger than
anticipated pool of slurry at the digging end. They said it was cold, how we
chuckled. Earlier in the session, another skip had been put together and this
was set-up from the dig to the ‘snug’ spot where Jon was lying. This too,
became ‘damp’ as the spoil was transferred between skips. I was at the Junction
and Tav at the bottom of the entrance, where the filled bags and rocks were to
be stashed awaiting removal at the end of the session.

The bags were filled partly with sediment, partly with slurry, it
was a good job that the sediment was granular. It was, rather forlornly, hoped
that the water would drain out and the bags become a bit lighter, it didn’t,
and they weren’t. The skip between myself and Jon soon wore out and became
difficult to haul, so that was replaced, and the hauling was much smoother. Most
things, by now, were liberally coated with slurry and splashbacks were a common

Soon the time came for digging to cease and for the entrance to be
cleared of spoil. The bags hauled out to the surface to be emptied, the rocks
piled ready for walling, a few were added to the wall as a token gesture. Those
of us on the surface rotated the hauling, leaving Brockers, who had been digging,
to load the skip to the surface. This he wasn’t so impressed with, he reckoned
he was cold after lying all morning in the slurry pool in the cold, Gnarl
North. We, however, were warm in the very pleasant spring sunshine – warmest day
of the year so far, I believe. 49 bags were hauled out and emptied plus 10
skip-loads of rock.

Satisfied with the morning’s endeavours and in high spirit, we
departed and made our way to the Hunter’s Lodge Inn for the usual refreshments.

13th April 2019

digging 2019 Posted on Sun, April 14, 2019 07:01:50

With Jake, Jon and

Due to other
commitments, a smaller team today so the digging effort continued in the Soft
South. Tav filled bags and moved the occasional rock to Jon, who was positioned
at the junction. I was at the bottom of the entrance hauling the skip away from
Jon and transferring the load to the surface skip, this was hauled out of the
cave by Jake.

It all seemed to
be at an easy-going pace this morning, but at the end of thesession 85 bags
and 16 loads of rock, a total of 101 loads, removed to the surface. A good,
productive effort.

Tav fills

Jon, at the
junction, hauls the skip away from the digger
Jake empty’s
the bags onto the ever-growing spoil heap

Jake remarked that it been very pleasant on the surface in the
warm spring sunshine with the bird’s singing and only very rarely could a car
be heard!

6th April 2019

digging 2019 Posted on Sat, April 06, 2019 16:51:00

With Jake, Jon,
Duncan and Tav

Although last
weekend it required three persons to secure the cave, only one was necessary to
re-open the cave for this session. Given that we were a team of five, when it
was suggested that we should dig in the ‘Soft South’, there wasn’t too much

I went ahead and
clambered down into the cave. I called up for some empty bags and, before I
could get out of the way, I received several packs thrown down the entrance by
those team members remaining on the surface above.

In the ‘Soft
South’ I spent the session lowering the floor of the ‘chamber’, also removing
sediment from the southern and eastern extents. Jon, in between loading the
skip to Duncan, at the bottom of the entrance, modified the skip haul route
into the ‘Soft South’. There had been a delay to the start of today’s
proceedings while Jon had to go across the border, beyond the former
pinch-point, to the ‘Cold Gnarly North’ to search for tools. The bar that had
been used last weekend (lastly, by Brockers, it seems), despite a determined
search, had disappeared. Jon reported back with tools from the north and
commented that there wasn’t as much water in the puddle as might be expected
following this week’s heavy rain. The missing bar was later rediscovered,
buried under a considerable pile of loose spoil that had been left un-bagged.

A couple of
substantial boulders were loosened, then dragged and cajoled to the base of the
entrance, where the surface team comprising Jake and Tav accepted the challenge
of getting them out in their entirety. This task called for the use of two
ropes. A successful challenge completed, and two more fine rocks were on the
surface ready to be used in the base of another stone wall, sometime in the

On the surface it
had turned into a fine and warm spring day. Today’s final tally was 83 loads
out to the surface; 68 bags and 15 loads of rock. Another productive session.

And, I remembered
to pick-up my camera – didn’t take any photos though!

30th March 2019

digging 2019 Posted on Mon, April 01, 2019 21:02:59

I attended the Somerset
Archaeological and Natural History Society (SANHS) Annual Archaeology Day at Wells
and Mendip Museum, and was unavailable for the Saturday morning digging session
at Hallowe’en Rift.

The following
report was provided by Jon:

“Five of the team
(Tav, Jon, Duncan, Jake and Paul) met at the appointed hour. Although one
later admitted that it was only because he had nothing better to do on a

With the
attendance a little lower than usual, it was proposed that we should dig in
what is now known as the ‘Soft South’. The motion was carried unanimously,
and the team set off up the hill on what proved to be a fine spring

The decision to
dig south was influenced by the need to keep all team members involved (a key
factor for a successful dig) and by the wish to ensure that all digging spoil
was removed to the surface (another key factor). Another key factor
is the key.

Digging started a
little later than usual.

There was much
debate about who should work where. Digging took place at two faces
during the previous week and involved three of the team. Under the normal
rules of rotation, Tav, Duncan and Paul could all claim a place on the surface
on a fine sunny morning. Paul and Duncan each tabled motion’s claiming
their own right. Tav, as the sagest of the elders on duty, ruled that any vote
on the matter could only be indicative and that the team had to abide by the
house rules. As a result, Jon was moved up the order from surface duties
the previous week, directly to the dig face, with Paul in support. Tav worked
at the bottom of the entrance. Jake and Duncan worked on their sun tans.

81 bags of spoil
were removed along with 25 loads of stone, mainly from the previous week.

At the end of the
session, three members of the team successfully locked the cave, and all
retired to a local hostelry for liquid refreshment.”

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