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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.

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.



29th January

digging 2022 Posted on Sat, January 29, 2022 17:46:51

Me and Jon digging down in the deep Soft South following the NE “passage”. My first task was to position a data logger to record temperature and relative humidity, for no other reason than I am interested. At start of session: 11OC, 84.6% RH. Meanwhile, Jon was filling bags. We alternated filling bags and hauling for the rest of the session. Brockers was on the ledge, Nick at the junction, Duncan was at the base of the entrance resting his sore knee the consequence of dry slope skiing. Jake on the surface hauling up the spoil, a task not made easier by a damp and claggy rope.

Jon filling bags!

Just over 100 bags were filled and emptied onto the spoil heap along with several loads of rocks. At the end of the session: 11OC, 94.6% RH was recorded, it was noticeably ‘steamy’ when I tried to take some photos of the SW facing section of the dig-face.



22nd January

digging 2022 Posted on Sat, January 22, 2022 15:20:26

With Jake, Duncan, Jon, Brockers, and Nick

Jake and Duncan digging along the north-eastward trending tunnel at the bottom of the pot in the deep Soft South. Hauling the loaded skip was made easier with the liberal application of sand (from the layer at the base of the NW facing section). I was perched on the slippery ledge catching the loaded skip and transferring the load to Jon, sitting at the junction; Brockers was at the bottom of the entrance. Nick was on the surface hauling the spoil out of the cave, and he found time to empty the bags too. Top effort!

At the dig-face it was hard going, very compact and cemented fill requiring full use of the pickaxe to loosen the sediment. About 100 bags were filled (and emptied) plus quite a lot of rocks and fragmented calcite. A good, productive session. Refreshments taken at the Hunter’s Lodge Inn.

LiDAR image showing Wookey Hole (bottom left) and Hallowe’en Rift (circled).
Some nice medieval and post-medieval earthwork features too.


15th January

digging 2022 Posted on Sun, January 16, 2022 06:42:21

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

After digging last weekend, me and Jon were on the surface; Duncan was at the bottom of the entrance, resting his knee following a trip into Wookey 22 yesterday. Brockers and Nick were digging, this left Jake and Tav to occupy the ledge and the junction (I do not know who was where).

On the surface, Jon hauled up the steady procession of filled bags and, quite a lot of, rock. I emptied the bags and added the finishing touches to the final terrace wall on the south-side of the heap, generally tidying and levelling up the surface area. When I left at mid-day it was all looking neat and tidy.

An early finish for me to attend the BCRA Cave Science Symposium being held online (Zoom) this afternoon. These are the presentations that were due to be presented at Hulland Ward in Derbyshire last year (27th November 2021) but Storm Arwen put a stop to that event when it dumped a lot of snow resulting in power cuts and a lot of digging at the Orpheus CC hut! The presentations were varied, interesting and informative.



8th January

digging 2022 Posted on Sat, January 08, 2022 16:24:29
Survey updated by Duncan, annotated by Vince, 8th January 2022.

With Jon, Nick, Brockers, and Jake

Not the most inspiring of mornings, weatherwise that is, it was very wet. Thankfully, the worst of the rain had passed by!

Me and Jon were digging, at least we would be after clearing away a mound of spoil left from last weekend, apparently it must have been the result of a “collapse” or so someone (not that far away) tried to suggest. The left (north west) side of the passage has been cleaned back to expose rock, just need to do the same on the right (south east) side. The “dig-face” continues as a sediment filled tunnel, nearly 2m high x 1.5m wide. All very intriguing. The hauling rope has become impregnated with mud, and it was wet, very difficult to keep a grip and pill the loaded bucket up to the ledge. The bags were slightly reduced in weight to compensate.

Nick was catching the loaded bucket on the slippery ledge, Brockers was at the junction and Jake stashed the spoil at the entrance. When all the available bags were filled, we made our way out to the surface to empty the bags, there was one token stone. It was mucky on the surface and there were no votes for doing it all again.

Refreshments were well-earned and enjoyed at the Hunter’s Lodge Inn. One benefit from the inclement weather is that it keeps the grockles away!

South-west facing section of the “dig-face” prior to commencement of digging activity 8th January 2022. Filled channels and displaced, fractured calcite clearly visible



1st January

digging 2022 Posted on Sat, January 01, 2022 15:08:59

Duncan, Nick, Jon, Jake, and Brockers

First trip of the new year, many more will follow. Met Duncan at the farm, 09:30, plan was for Duncan to update the survey of the ‘pot’ in the deep Soft South. Quickly measured in a base line, then some dimensions for the pot and last night’s section line. All done just before the digging team arrived.

Duncan surveying the ‘pot’ in the deep Soft South

A brief discussion on the surface before heading underground. Jake and Brockers took on the digging duties, Duncan catching the bucket from the very slippery ledge, Jon at the junction, me at the entrance, Nick on the surface hauling out the spoil. Being on the surface was going to be the most difficult task of the day given the recent wet conditions. The hauling rope soon became caked in mud and not easy to grip firmly, the bags too were very claggy, making the rope even muddier. Suffice to say with Jake and Brockers digging bags and rock were moving through the cave at a good steady rate, no time to empty the bags. When all available bags were filled, all out to get them emptied.

Last night’s recorded section no longer exists, there are a lot of calcite fragments on the surface, much of it quite degraded.

Back at home, a lot of kit to wash and clean ready for the next trip!