24th December 2015


The day started with a trip over to the supplier in some very heavy rain. Of course there was the usual chat, a coffee, a mince pie and time slipped by.

Back at home I was a little peeved to find that one of the drill batteries appears to have died so a rethink was necessary regarding hole depth and numbers.

By the time I got to the farm the rain had ceased and it was a pleasant stroll up the hill to the cave. There were a few puddles along the passage and it was a bit damp at the dig but generally it was ok. Drilled the required holes in the rocks, charged, retreated to a safe position and fired. I retrieved the wire as that will be needed Tuesday when we begin another little project in a cave nearby.

19th December 2015

With Jake, Alex and Nick.

Nlck and Jake at the business end, Alex hauling the bags and for a short while I helped out with the shuttling. When a dozen or so bags had been filled and stacked in the entrance it was my turn on the surface to haul out and empty the bags.

A total of 40 bags plus rocks shifted from the dig, we did think it would be a little slower this session as there was some rock barring forward progress. At least one of the rocks was removed and reduced to moveable pieces but the remaining rock(s) will require some chemical persuasion, this will be sorted out as soon as the supplier returns from sunning himself in the Caribbean.

To the Hunter’s for the usual refreshment and chinwag.

12th December 2015

Alex’s annual festive offering! This image was taken during the week when the team were visiting Wookey Hole with Tom Chapman.

L to R: Nick, Tom, that’s me, Alex (kneeling), Jake, Tav.

Digging this weekend with Jake, Tav and Alex.

My turn to do the digging, Tav clearing from the pot, Jake hauling with Alex helping with the shuttling for a while before heading up to the surface to haul out and empty the bags.

There had been a slump of material from the ‘ceiling’ that took about 20 bags to clear. Fortunately nothing more came down during the session, this was especially good news for Tav as the ‘ceiling’ is also the floor he was standing on in the pot. We cleared a total of 50 bags plus a few rocks out to the surface. At the dig end a couple of boulders are barring progress, these will need better exposure before a decision is made on the best method of removal is decided. There does seem to be a downward trend but more work will be required before this is clear.

Then to the Hunter’s for the usual refreshments.

5th December 2015

With Nick and Jake, later we were joined by Tom Chapman.

40 bags filled was the initial target but the later arrival of Tom upped the ante to 50 bags. Jake did the excavation, I was in the pot while Nick was on the hauling and shuttling until TC turned up to help out with the shuttle. Bags filled TC went to look at the rest of the cave while the rest of us started to get the bags and assorted rocks out to the surface where the bags were emptied. A jolly good session followed by some fine refreshments at the Hunter’s Lodge Inn – the Bath Ales Special Pale Ale was far too moreish!

28th November 2015

With Nick and Tav.

In the future we will be adopting a facilitated group work method called Open Space Technology to generate, categorise and prioritise our digging effort to really influence how the cave evolves. This fresh and innovative approach will involve regular group brain-storming and networking sessions mostly conducted in the bar at the Hunter’s Lodge Inn conference facility.

That said we shifted another 40 filled bags and assorted rocks from the dig to the surface. Nick at the sharp end, Tav as intermediate in the pot and me on the haul and shuttle to the entrance. With a little moisture present the spoil was a bit on the sloppy side and required some effort to remove from the bags.

14th November 2015

With a full team today; Jake, Tav, Nick and great to see Alex re-join the underground section.

My turn to dig, Nick doing the clearing and breaking rocks, Alex hauling, Tav shuttling to and fro to the entrance. Jake was on the surface hauling and emptying the bags. There was a lot of banter going on, not that I could hear what was being said, but the sound of much mirth and merriment probably meant that some peoples characters were being assassinated. 60 bags of sediment and about 10 loads of rock were removed to the surface. In amongst the sediment was quite a bit of fragmented calcite flowstone, etc. There is still plenty of stuff to shift, should keep us occupied for a while yet.

7th November 2015

With Jake and Tav.

A wet morning. Jake at the digging end assisted by Tav in the pot and me on the shuttle again. 40 bags filled plus a few rocks all shifted out to the surface, bags emptied ready for use on the next session. At the dig it doesn’t appear to be opening out much, might have to reassess our options.

31st October 2015 .

With Jake, Tav and Nick. Alex came over later.

A fine session. Sixty bags filled plus five loads of rocks out to the surface. Nick digging, me in the pot, Jake on the shuttle and Tav on the surface in the sunshine. Remarkably dry underground after some recent rain.

24th October 2015

With Jake and Tav.

Tav on digging duties, Jake in the pot, “moi, sur le shuttle”. 41 bags filled plus assorted rocks all shifted out to the surface where it was raining. A fine digging session followed by a fine time in the Hunter’s with Sid and Sylv Hobbs joined by Edric and family.

17th October 2015

With Tav and Jake. Alex came along to help haul and empty bags later.

Jake carried the pump up the hill while Tav and me followed with a container filled with water for flushing the pump after use. 25 litres of water gets heavy after a while and it was a slog up the hill. It has been a dry week so the pump wasn’t actually needed but everything is in place for the future. My turn to dig, Jake in the pot, Tav hauling and shuttling to the entrance where the bags were stacked for later. I mixed the remaining slop with drier sediment and eventually the floor was quite tidy and drying out. At the moment we are following what appears to be phreatic development, sort of parallel to but lower than Toil and Trouble, the floor seems to be going in a slightly downward direction, which is good. The digging is comfortable [at the moment] and 40 bags and assorted rocks were shifted out to the surface – another pleasing session. Hunter’s for refreshment.

11th October 2015

With Tav, Jake and Nick.

Time to try out Tav’s recently purchased pump. We spent a little while fiddling about with that, flattening out a number of kinks in the pipe, and it worked rather well. There was a bit of slurry left in the bottom of the dig but Jake mixed it in with the drier sediment as he filled the bags. I took up position in the pot transferring the filled bags up to Tav who was on the shuttle to the entrance. Nick was on the surface hauling and emptying the bags, no doubt appreciating the liberal coating of slurry on the majority of bags and the added ingredient inside. 40 bags filled at the end and emptied on the surface, a good Sunday morning session it would be churlish not to appreciate a fine ale at the Hunter’s to end it.

4th October 2015

With Nick, Jake and Tav.

Nick filling the bags, Tav in the pot, Jake along the haul/shuttle route me on the surface hauling and emptying the bags and hanging them out to dry. Packed away the already dry bags and had a little tidy up around the entrance. Trevor and Kate Hughes made an appearance on their way up to the pub after staying at Wookey Hole on Saturday night. 40 bags were filled and emptied and a unanimous decision to go to the Hunter’s.

26th September 2015

A dilemma; Hidden Earth at Churchill, looking at other peoples holiday snaps, or digging at Hallowe’en Rift – digging wins every time!

Just me and Jake today although Alex came over at the end of the session to help empty bags. My turn to dig, Jake did the clearing for a while then hauling and shuttling the bags to the entrance. The puddle in the dig is slowly getting deeper so Tav’s pump will be put into action soon. Kept digging at a higher level and extended the dig face to the eastern side. Still no sign of any airspace. There is a distinct boundary visible in the sediment the upper fill is stiff yellow-brown sandy silt and the lower fill very stiff pale red-brown sandy silt becoming more granular, it is compact in places and cemented. There are a few boulders/rock beginning to show. 30 bags were filled and removed to the surface to be emptied and hung up to dry.

Refreshments at a quiet Hunter’s.

13th September 2015

With Jake and Tav.

Sunday digging this weekend after my trip to Ogof Draenen yesterday.

Jake did the digging, I took up position in the pot, while Tav did the shuttling to the entrance and started to gouge a channel to divert water. Tav has purchased a pump with the intention of draining the dig should it fill with water through the autumn and winter. We filled and emptied 40 bags and then called it a day.

Refreshments at the Hunter’s for a while before the annual cricket match on the green between the Cavers and Priddy Village CC. I arrived late and the game was already underway but was allowed to replace Butch who didn’t want to play. I managed to take a couple of wickets and hit a four but was caught while going for another boundary. The Cavers lost as usual but were much closer this year. It was time for home.

5th September 2015

With Nick. Alex came over later to help with hauling spoil out to the surface.

There were a few puddles along the way to the pot and there was water in the dig. We started off by clearing the rocks stashed in the rift on the south side of the pot. When Nick had a suitable pile and needed to shuttle the rocks to the entrance I filled bags. I managed to dig spoil from higher up and this kept the spoil drier. Couldn’t get the water to drain away. When we had filled 20 bags and shifted all the rocks from the pot we decided it was time to haul out the spoil to the surface – there was a lot of it! A good job completed.

23rd August 2015

With Tav, we were joined later by Nick.

Another Sunday session after our jaunt over to Winford Redding Pits (see also mendipmines blog)yesterday.

Tav and I were all set to fill 40 bags and Tav’s turn to dig, we were already underway when Nick made a late arrival. Nick went into the pot to help Tav while I continued to haul and shuttle the bags to the entrance. Made a trip out to the surface to collect another 20 bags for the digger. We got 60 bags filled and emptied before pub time. The rain didn’t let up all morning and at times the drip down the entrance was a continuous stream, needless to say I was rather damp in my cotton overalls.

16th August 2015

With Tav and Tangent.

A Sunday morning session this weekend. Tangent was dispatched to the end to dig, Tav clearing the pot and I took up the hauling and shuttling duties. A frantic 60 minutes or so while Tav and I got through the backlog of bags, while this was going on Tangent was filling more and adding them to the pile. Any rocks were added to the pile in the pot to be removed at a later date when we have a bigger team. When 40 bags had been filled it was time to move back and clear the stack in the entrance up to the surface where the bags were emptied, 55 bags in total. The empty bags were packed ready for going underground next session, it was time for the pub. Another fine digging effort.

8th August 2015


At the entrance I grabbed 20 empty bags off the drying line and headed into the cave. there were still 5 empty bags at the end left over from the last session so I bagged up some loose sediment and gravel and then set about barring out some of the blasted rock. Any oversized lumps were reduced to a more manageable size with the sledge hammer and all the rock was stacked in the pot. My only problem was an earworm – Abba tunes! must have been the other day when I caught a bit of ‘Mamma Mia’ on the TV. Anyway rock stashed and fifteen bags filled with gravel and sediment, most of the blasted rock has been cleared out of the way so digging should be easier next session. Although access to Toil and Trouble is now blocked by bags. Time to head out for refreshments at the Hunter’s.

Oh! Just remembered that I also put the short iron ladder down to aid access down into the dig.

1st August 2015

With Tav. Alex came over later to help with hauling the bags out.

My turn to dig, Tav came down into the pot so that we could clear the larger rock debris from Wednesday’s effort. These were stacked in the pot to be shifted at a later date when there is a bigger team. I then set about bagging up the gravel and smaller rocks, any large rocks were added to the pile. At the end I filled 3 bags at a time then moved up into the pot loaded the skip for Tav to haul the bags out of the pot and shuttle them along to the entrance. This process was repeated until 40 bags had been filled and stacked in the entrance. It was then time to move back and clear the bags to the surface to be emptied. There is still plenty of spoil to be shifted from the dig. There appears to be some less compacted sediment at the base of the dig, a small bar was pushed in easily and waggled around. The also seems to be some phreatic development to the east at a lower level to Toil and Trouble, but it’s ‘early days’ and we will have to see how this progresses. Anyway it was getting late and we were missing pub time!

29th July 2015


Got all I needed to get done and was at the entrance by 18:15 and made my way along to Witches Cauldron sorting the wire out as I went. After some recent heavy rain I noticed there were a few puddles along the way and down in the pot a few drips – well, quite a lot of drips really. I reckon Jake got the best of the digging conditions last Saturday and the next clearing/digging session may be sticky – even squalid if more ran comes. Anyway, I digress, back to the job in hand, drilled 6no. holes into various large boulders and fractured rock. Made sure I used some of the ample supply of tamp material and made my way back out. Job completed by 19:15 and was home in time to watch the highlights of the first days play of the Ashes Edgbaston test match.

25th July 2015

With Nick, Jake and Tangent, who made a late appearance.

Jake took 40 bags to the end and started digging, I was in the pot clearing the last of the rocks and filled bags as they arrived at my feet. Nick did the hauling up the pot and shuttling back and forth to the entrance. With two of us working in the pot there is not much respite for the digger and as the bags were rapidly filled, then more empties were requested – 70 bags filled, the rocks cleared from the pot plus a few more rocks and in excess of 80 loads were shifted out to the surface. Tangent looked rather warm after hauling most of the bags up the entrance and he had emptied most of them – his penance for late arrival (and he then had to pedal up to the Hunter’s). At least the flies didn’t seem to be such a nuisance today. An excellent session.

18th July 2015

With Jake and Tav. Alex came over later to help with the hauling of bags and rocks.

Tav was at the business end, I initially hauled spoil up and out of the pot whilst Jake had opted to do the shuttling back and forth to the entrance. After we had cleared the bags filled by me last session I moved down into the pot to shift the rock piled there while Tav carried on with digging along and down the rift. Tav filled 40 bags and succeeded in lowering the floor in the rift by nearly one metre. By that time there were only a few small rocks remaining in the pot (which were left there) but a considerable pile of 50 bags and numerous rocks in the entrance ready to be hauled out to the surface. It was warm and the swarming flies on the surface were really annoying, when we had cleared the entrance time was moving on and thirst needed quenching, off to the Hunter’s!

11th July 2015

Due to work commitments, school holidays and air shows it’s another solo trip for me.

Wednesday’s effort had done the job and there was a considerable pile of debris to shift. Spent the next two hours stacking rock in the pot, breaking up the larger lumps with the sledge hammer, bagging the gravel. When I had finished the access to the former alcove is now c.4 metres long, 1 metre wide and nearly 2 metres high in places, and there is still more to come out of the floor and plenty of sediment to shift. Unfortunately I had done a “J’Rat” and run out of stacking space, the pot is now full of rock and the way into Toil and Trouble blocked with bags. Then, I heard a voice, I even answered it but on arrival at the surface there was no-one – am I going mad? I needed a drink so made my way off the hill and up to the Hunter’s Lodge Inn for some refreshment.

In the pub it later transpired that Alex had come over to the entrance of Hallowe’en Rift but had returned to his project to collect his kit.

8th July 2015

On my tod.

Continued the expansion to the north at the bottom of Witches Cauldron. 7no. holes drilled – 2no. in the wall to open up access to the alcove and 5no. in the obstruction in the floor – cut material underground, ran out wire and completed the job from the entrance. Should be something to clear next session and hopefully we will see what is obstructing downwards progress – boulder or solid rock?

4th July 2015

With Jake and Nick.

Another warm day. Jake did the clearing and digging, Nick hauling and shuttling back to the entrance, while I was on the surface hauling out the rocks and bags. In between loads I packed away the empty bags and generally tidied around the entrance. I wasn’t alone being surrounded by a halo of buzzing flies which became rather annoying, particularly when their bigger biting cousins came along – I really dislike CLEGS! When the clearing was done Nick and I went along to the end to have a look. Wednesday’s little effort had worked really well and the obstruction is no more. Still need to take a little more off the wall and there is an obstruction in the floor that will need some attention, will try and arrange something for mid-week.

1st July 2015


A very warm and humid walk up to the entrance, apparently it’s the warmest July day on record. Spent some time putting the wire onto another, more suitable reel – my mistake was to drop the old reel and wire down the entrance shaft, then I had to untangle the resulting bird’s nest! On to the main task for the evening, from the base of the pot continuing north – the plan to remove the bridge of flowstone and dolomitic conglomerate that is obstructing forward progress. Drilled holes using new 400mm x 12mm bit until batteries were fully discharged (7 and a bit holes). Only used 6no. preparation of material was done, as required per hole, underground. Returned to the surface to complete a satisfactory evenings work, hopefully there will be some debris to shift on Saturday.

27th June 2015

Just me and Tav this week the other team members are either away surfing or at Glastonbury partying!

Continued to dig the rift to the north of Witches Cauldron. Pretty easy digging at the moment dry sandy silt with very few inclusions. The layering visible within the sediment exposure might suggest a low energy environment at the time of deposition. I did the first stint filling 15 bags then changed places with Tav who then filled another 15 bags. Alex turned up to help out with the hauling and the bags were quickly up and out. The bags were relatively easy to empty and by the time the last bag was out the others were already emptied and hanging up to dry. Off to the jolly old Hunter’s Lodge for some refreshment!

20th June 2015

I was over at Hutton again but the digging at HR continued.

The team comprised Tav, Jake, Nick and Tangent.

The debris resulting from Thursday evening’s trip was cleared along with much sediment. The team seem happy to continue pursuing this lead for a while.

18th June 2015


Pleasant evening stroll up to the entrance and quickly got underground. Slightly perturbed to that there was not a reel of wire in the entrance shaft, must be at the top of the pot I thought – wrong! and not at the bottom either. Nothing for it but to leave the kit and return to the surface and search for the missing reel there – luckily I found it secreted under a skip. Back to the job in hand. Some hard rock to drill on the right hand side but soon had the job done and dusted, packed my kit away and returned to the surface to successfully complete the night’s work. Didn’t bother to stop in the Hunter’s on the way home.

13th June 2015

I was over at Hutton today but the rest of the team continued the good works!

Tav sent the following report of the day’s activities:

“Tav, Nick, Tangent & Jake – joined later by Alex.

The bang had worked well and the team quickly removed the debris,
which was in handily sized chunks. Several more bag loads of mud were
then removed from the bedding beneath the dwindling bridge. One large
lump of spar was beaten repeatedly but stubbornly refused to break and
will need some chemical persuasion to reduce it to manageable lumps.
Once this – and the remains of the bridge – have gone, then the
descending bedding should be wide open for a full scale attack. Tav
crawled up Toil and Trouble to retrieve some tools that were more man
enough for the job. Another good session and by mutual consent a better
looking prospect all round. Then to pub for a mellow session and to have
a laugh about the Belfry Spycam incident.”

10th June 2015


Steady trip up the hill on a fine evening stopping to admire the view. Into the cave with two bags, glad I wasn’t going too far. Got comfortable in the pot (Witches Cauldron) and set up the drill, I kept drilling holes until both batteries were fully discharged but only used five of them. Holes charged and kit packed away it was time to head out, laying the wire as I went. At the surface a successful conclusion to the evening and returned to the farm, and it was still light.

6th June 2015

With Tav and Tangent, Alex came along later to assist with the haul out.

Cleared the debris from Wednesday evenings little passage widening exercise and managed to fill quite a few bags of sediment as well. Nice and tidy ready for a little more attention on Wednesday next.

3rd June 2015

Solo underground but Tangent was on the surface exploring the surrounding landscape, it was a rather fine evening!

Underground I dragged the kit along to the rift north at the bottom of the pot where the new drill (Erbauer 36v)was unpacked ready to be used for the first time. Kept drilling until batteries were fully discharged but only charged 5no. As usual there was high variability in the conglomerate and the calcite. Job done it was time to return to the surface and a satisfying pop was heard, cave locked, and off we went.

30th May 2015

With Tav, Jake and Tangent. Alex arrived later to help hauling and emptying of the bags.

Note: Due to G’rumblings regarding deformation of character and his wife’s hysterical laughter everytime he enters the room, there will be no further ‘intentional’ references to A. G’ruffalo, by order!

Talking of the Gruffalo you just have to listen to ‘Cave Baby’ It made me laugh anyway!

Tangent started the session well as he carefully attached his fully charged lamp to his helmet only to find he was illuminating all who followed after him.

Jake and Tangent at the end, Tav at the T Junction, while I settled in the pot. Digging was not easy, this was possibly due to certain team members spending too much time on the beach surfing, and more compacted sediment. As previously stated an obvious way on in this particular spot is not apparent and we might resort to having a go at digging back over the top and opening out to the left (going north) of Witches Cauldron. There is also the short passage and open rift on the left (north) just before T Junction. There are plenty of options to go for. Bags emptied it was time for reflection and discussion at the Hunter’s Lodge Inn.

23rd May 2015

With Nick and Tav, Tangent was a little late on parade. Nick and Tav were doing the work at the end, I was at the T Junction transferring the filled bags from skip to skip and, when Tangent
arrived he took up position in the pot, where the bags were stashed ready to be cleared out later in the session. 30’odd bags were filled and an
assortment of rocks including some degraded flowstone. The way ahead is
anywhere you feel like digging at the moment, it is, as always, just
wait and see how things develop. All the spoil was then hauled out to the surface
and bags emptied ready for when they are needed next session. Down in the deep dark wood the Hallowe’en Rift diggers had a series of encounters until…


But who is this creature with terrible claws
And terrible teeth in his terrible jaws?
He has knobbly knees and turned-out toes
And a poisonous wart at the end of his nose.
His eyes are orange, his tongue is black;
He has purple prickles all over his back.

“Oh help! Oh no!

It’s A. G’ruffalo!” He’s come to join us at midday to help haul out and empty the bags.

If you want to see more of the gruffalo follow the link to www.gruffalo.com

16th May 2015

With Jake, Nick and Tangent. Alex came along later to help with the hauling and emptying of bags. Got a message from Tav later to say that he was stuck behind an ambulance and, unfortunately couldn’t make digging.

I did the digging, Nick the clearing, Jake at the T Junction and Tangent in the pot. Felt a bit jaded to start with probably as a result of imbibing too many apple juices at a certain hostelry last evening but got into it soon enough. Not sure about the crack in the floor seems quite narrow, a little more disconcerting is that there appears to be a rift above that has some looser fill and I removed some degraded flowstone from it. This will make forward progress a little more awkward as the rift will need to be cleared as well, maybe it will peter out, we’ll have to see. It was soon time to shift around and haul the bags out to the surface, I thought it was wise to avoid the pot, at least for this week and Nick did that job while I hauled and Tangent shuttled the bags, Jake on the surface with Alex. Bags emptied, cave secured off to the Hunter’s!

9th May 2015

Well I’m back underground but not at Hallowe’en Rift this weekend. I went over to Hutton area to widen a constriction for the digging team over there at the upper end of the recently discovered and impressive Glebe Passage.

At Hallowe’en the team comprised Tav, Nick, Jake and, the second week in succession, Tangent. They shifted c.40 bags of spoil from the dig to the surface, another sterling effort and they were late to the pub. At the end a small rift has appeared although this will need some further investigation. I’m very much looking forward to returning to the fray next weekend.

2nd May 2015

Still no digging for me but there was a job to do on the surface, I had bought a padlock and chain to replace the the faulty one on the entrance to Hallowe’en Rift. By the time I had sorted out tools and things I was running a little late as I headed over to the farm, as I was passing the Hunter’s I was surprised to see that Jake’s motorcycle was there – I didn’t think anyone was going to dig this weekend. I was even more surprised when I arrived at the farm to see Tangent changed to go underground along with Jake and Nick. Alex had gone walkabout on the hillside with Desmond Donovan. Walked up to the entrance with the team and when they had gone underground I set about removing the old lock and fitting the new one. That done walked over the hill to find Alex, mooched around with them for a while before returning to Hallowe’en Rift where I packed up the dry bags and tidied up around the entrance. I could hear the underground team hauling the day’s spoil out to the entrance and Alex turned up to assist in hauling and emptying the bags, about three dozen and a few rocks. The empty bags hung up to dry. it was time to lock up and head off to the Hunter’s for the usual refreshments.

25th April 2015

Still no digging for me, the rest of the team – Jake, Tav and Nick with Alex turning up later to help haul and empty bags – kept up the good work. Jake reports from the end that a long bar can be pushed its entire length into less compact sediment and the passage appears to be trending upwards.