by J. Strickland

Cerberus Spelaeological Society

Occasional Bulletion No. 1

January 1964


Occasional Bulletin No 1.                 January, 1964.                         Submitted by J. Stickland.


The paper is intended as a general guide to caves and areas for research in the district. The area covered deals with most caves in the number six research area of the Mendip Cave Registry. Over forty items are mentioned in an area from Croscombe in the west to ASHAM in the east with Emborough and Doulting on the north and south flanks. The caves are described clockwise, grid references and heights are given with lengths where known. References are only to six figures as the Cave Registry system of references to one decimal place or eight figures can only be usefully used with larger scale maps than those normally used by cavers. About twenty of the caves are described in Barrington's "Caves of Mendip," second edition, which is easily obtainable . Some caves are also mentioned in Balch's works and "British Caving". Where information is thus available details are omitted.

The area is about ten miles from west to east and the principal geological feature is the most southern of the four Mendip periclines, known as Beacon Hill Pericline. This comprises a ridge of Old Red Sandstone, an excellent aquifer which feeds many springs on lower beds of limestone. The ridge is over 900 ft. high with a volcanic intrusion at Moons Hill which is also present spasmodically from the Beacon to Downhead Basalt Quarry. Of especial interest to Speleologists is the band of Carboniferous Limestone on the north slope about 4500 ft. wide starting at 700 - 800 ft., and dropping northwards to about 500 ft. where it joins the Millstone Grit. This band has three major tear faults at Oakhill, Withybrook, and near Leigh on Mendip. The numerous springs on the sandstone give rise to many slockers, and subsequent resurgences.

The Geology is dealt with in detail in a paper by Dr. F.B.A. Welch in Vol LXXXIX (pt.1.) of the Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society of London 1933. A new Geological survey map of the area is to be published this year or next.

Access arrangements are not given. All items mentioned are on private property and permission must be obtained in every case from owners, or caving organisations responsible to owners.

600448 Ht. 500 HAM WOOD SHELTER Dig Length about 50 ft.
A small rock shelter below a low cliff to the north west of Ham Western farm, Shepton Mallet, and above Ham Wood Ravine. The site is mentioned by Balch and the whole valley probably repay investigation for archaeological sites.

602441 Ht. 450 ft. NANCEY CAMEL'S HOLE Dig Length about 30 ft.
Small rock shelter, hard to find in dense copse above Shepton Mallet Sewage works. It is further east than stated in Barrington.
Ref: Caves of Mendip.

614452 Ht. 650 ft. WINDSOR HILL QUARRY Closed.
A cave was found by quarrying in 1935 and later filled in. The cave was surveyed and stalactite specimens were sent to the British Museum. The disused quarries are extensive, with a large stream sinking on the east. Research might produce a cave.

610455 Ht. 600 ft WINDSOR HILL VIADUCT

613459 Ht. 700 ft BURNT HOUSE FARM.
These are features in the semi dry valley stove Ham wood ravine. Research and digging might be fruitful.

603457 Ht. 640 ft. THRUPE SWALLET Dig Length 50 ft. Depth 35 ft.
Swallet excavated in 1936 but closed due to dangerous rock. Interesting swallet area worthy of investigation.
Ref: Caves of Mendips.

616498 Ht. 700 ft. EMBOROUGH POND AREA.
An area of dry valleys and largo quarries worth investigation.

603472 Ht. 710 ft. HANSDOWN  SWALLET Dig. Length 60 ft. Depth 20 ft.
Ref: Caves of Mendips..

635498 Ht. 575ft. FAIRY SLATTS
Rock fissures and chimneys up the side of a hill into ancient earthworks on top. Filled in, but it is said that if fire is lit at the base, smoke rises at the top.

626473 Ht.750 ft. LITTLE LONDON SWALLET DC. Length 30 ft.
Ref: Caves of Mendips

635470 Ht. 725 ft. OAKHILL SLOCKER
Mud filled slocker in area of old slockers. Formerly used to bury horses from the Oakhill Brewery so it must once have been larger. Oakhill village is in the centre of a catchment area of about one and half square miles. It has hardly any surface water. Somewhere there could well be a cave system of vast dimensions.

643472 Ht. 660 ft. FOSSE SLOCKER
A stream sinks in mud. The ordnance survey shows a sink further to the north indicating recent creep.

648478 Ht. 675ft. CLARES ROCK SHELTER.
Rock shelter on north side of Ashwick Grove.

649477 Ht.660 ft. ASHWICK GROVE RISING
Intermittent resurgence near stream.

Capped by Bristol Waterworks.

Cappad by Bristol Waterworks

656469 Ht. 700 ft. BLAKES FARM WOOD Length 5O ft. Depth 45 ft. (U.H)
A wood adjoining Blakes farm contains several active and old slockers, the deepest being known as U.H. after its explorers Max Unwin and Jack Hill. Investigation has been slowed by dangerous rock, however water has been traced to Ashwick Grove implying a potentially long system.

646486 Ht. 650 ft. NEIGHBOURNE CLIFF

645496 Ht. 675 ft. OLD ROCK CLIFF
Dolomitic Conglomerate cliffs to the south and north of the Benter-Nettlebridge Valley. Some small rock shelters may be worthy of archaeological exploration. Uninvestigated reports of 'big and long" cave on south side.

650470 Ht. 680 ft. LARKS HALL SLOCKER
Stream sinks under hedge. Not explored or dug.

651469 Ht. 680 ft. STOKE FARM SLOCKER
Large slockerhole near farm. Unexplored.

652469 Ht. 680 ft. MIDWAY SLOCKER
Small slocker in garden. Also manhole in road leading to natural fissures.
Refs Caves of Mendip.

655472 Ht.644 ft WITHYBROOK SLOCKER D.C. Length 200ft.Depth 50 ft.
Active slocker into rock on or close to fault line to St. Dunstans Well.
Ref: Caves of Mendips.

Sleeker in outhouse of old Inn most water now sinks outside. No record of exploration.

657477 Ht. 630 ft. FAIRY CAVE 1 or COXS CAVE E.C
Length 500 ft. Depth 70 ft.
Cave known from many years. Possible to talk to Fernhill cavo through boulders near end.
Ref: Caves of Mendips

656477 Ht. 595 ft. FAIRY CAVE 2 or HILLIERS CAVE D.C.
Length 2,500 ft. Depth 40 ft.
Discovered by Quarrying in 1954.
Ref: Caves of Mendips.

657477 Ht. 625 ft. FAIRY CAVE 3 DUCKS HOLE Closed.
Length 275 ft. Dpth 65 ft.
Founded by excavator driver Mr Duck during quarrying in July, 1959. Vertical descent leading to chamber with several offshots. Muddy tubes lead to lower series with sump and an aven which was not forced, even with a maypole. Aural connection to Fernhill. Now Cloded.

657477. Ht. 615 ft. FAIRY CAVE 4 FERNHILL EC.
Length 30 yds Depth 40 ft.
Found 1960 about 30 yards from Ducks Hole on north side of quarry. Aural connection with caves 1 and 3.
Ref: Caves of Mendips

657477 Ht. 625 ft. . FAIRY CAVE 5 GARLICKS RIFT Closed Depth 50 ft.
Found. by quarrying July 1961 and named after quarry manager. It was about 25 yards south of Ducks Hole, again on a first level of the quarry. A steeply descending rift with chamber at base full of boulders which prevented further progress. Contained fine straws and helictites. Now filled in.

657476 Ht. 650ft. . FA IRY CAVE 6 BALCH CAVE D.C.
Length 1500 ft. Depth 150 ft.
Discovered by blasting 3.11.61 by Hobbs Quarries Ltd. Entered and explored 5.11.61. as far as stream series and third chamber. In Feb. 1962 a new series was entered by a maypole. Several attempts have boon made on the stream by the Diving Group and two sumps have been passed. Exploration of the stream and other series continues. The cave is noted for a great concentration of varied formations and phenomona in its modest total length o, 1,800 ft.

Entrance 10 ft. belayed to quarry fence post. (a 60 ft. ladder is an asset to assist climbing out in wet conditions.)
Second Pitch. 30ft. hand line useful but not essential.
Maypole Pitch. Fixed ladder, chain and nobbly dog. Lifeline desirable for novices.

Entrance in Quarry face about 20 ft. down, followed by muddy 55 degree entrance pitch of 50ft. Roof Loose. At the base of the entrance pitch is the first or GREAT CHAMBER with 3 small passages leading off. Cashens Hole below the entrance, which probably connects with Christmas Pole (Fairy Cave VII). Toby Jug Grotto, with Hills Hole extension is in the north east and Pointings Rift under the west wall, approached by a crawl.

The way on is via the large ROCK CANYON, with a tall flowstone south wall, and ERRATIC PASSAGE with many straws and helictites.

A 20 ft. cascade (rope useful) leads to the second or CASCADE CHAMBER decorated, and with the mud floored PEARL WAY leading off to the north west (several Pearl Nests.)

South West the way on is up a Flowstone bank, over a 15 ft. pit, and past the tunnel on the left (this connects with Bullrush Way and should NOT BE USED). Slide down a short cascade to the Bullrush Way (left) and Pool Passage (right).

BULLRUSH WAY is an intermittently flooded pool with slowly moving water about 180 ft. long a It is well decorated with flowstone gours, and helicites in some avens. After the second corner a pool is partly iced with gour, giving the impression of an ice shelf, Variations in water level from almost dry to 2ft. 11/2 ins. have been recorded near the entrance cascade and the imperceptibly slowly moving water is heavily charged with calcite and mud resulting in two phenomena. The sides of the pool have a tide mark of mud tinted calcite, and secondly, below the level of the high water mark straws take the form of giant Bullrushres up to 2ins in diameter, suggesting very fast growth during the periods of high water levels.

The right hand, or POOL PASSAGE turns sharp right with a squeeze over, or a wet crawl under some curtains and after 70 ft. the third or MAYPOLE CHAMBER 80ft. long is reached. A very well decorated chamber with attractive gouring, decorated avens and a beautiful intermittently flooded POOL GROTTO in its west corner.

Opposite the entrance a steeply descending tunnel leads to the stream series 150 ft. below the surface. 2 sumps have been passed by divers and work is continuing. Chert nodules are prominent near the stream. At the south end of the Maypole Chamber a fixed rope ladder of 15 ft. followed by a steep rock slope leads to the top of the corkscrew) which drops 12 ft. and leads to the fourth CRYSTAL CHAMBER, a beautifully decorated chamber with the four ways in.

A hole in the floor reveals a small cellar below. The south exit leads to the CORAL GROTTO (dry gour pools) and decorated FIFTH CHAMBER (the roof of this chamber is estimated to be within 25ft. of the surface). The south west way rises through a grotto and connects with the sixth chamber bat this route must NOT BE USED. The east way goes through a grotto containing St.Michaels Mount a large fractured stalactite, to the undecorated SIXTH & SEVENTH CHAMBERS, which are connected by the Gallery of the Witches Stick.

657476 Ht. 635 ft. FAIRY CAVE 7 CHRISTMAS HOLE Closed.
Depth 5O ft. Length 25O ft.
Found by quarrying before Christmas 1961, on the first level just below Balch Cave, Right soils was believed to be connected with Balch. Left series ended up in dry mud passages end chambers, very few formations. Almost immediately closed owing to unstable roof conditions.

657476 Ht. 590 ft. FAIRY CAVE 3 PLUMBERS HOLE S.S.C.
Depth 90 ft.
Found in spring of 1963 and named after quarry foreman. Short passage led to difficult and steep pitch shout 9O feet. At present closed by quarrying but will be re-opened.

659479 Ht. 485 ft. ST. DUNSTANS WELL Resurgence.
Capped by Bristol Waterworks water comes from two sources (proved by dust pollution at one source). The left hand water is from Stoke Lane Slocker, that on the west is different and probably comes from the Withybrook area.

659479 Ht. 505 ft. ST. DUNSTANS CAVE Dig Length 60 ft. Rise 10 ft.
Dug since 1956, many clay pipes found at entrance and medieval pottery suggesting a black death burial pit, ???????

669474 Ht, 570 ft. STOKE LANE SLOCKER S.C.
Length 3,700 ft. Depth 60 ft.
One of the most difficult and beautiful caves on Mendip. For details to second sump refer to Caves of Mendipsb In September 1962 the cave diving group passed the second sump of 30ft., to find extensions of about 1,200 feet. A third sump was bypassed and a fourth sump of 40 feet has boon found but no exploration has boon carried on beyond this point.

670475 Ht. 57O ft. BROWNES HOLE D.C. Length 700 ft. Depth 20 ft
The first fifty feet if this cave at least was dug by Mr. Browne who even installed a railway, to help. Fully described in Caves of Mendips.

672473 Ht. 650 ft. HUNTING LODGE SLOCKER Depth 60 ft.
Old rubbish filled slocker surrounded by wall. Dry valley leads to Bector Wood resurgence.
Refs Caves of Mendip.

Shown on Map. O.S. now dry.

690459 Ht. 600 ft. DOWNHEAD SWALLET S .C. Length 200 ft. Depth 20 ft.

689453 Ht. 650 ft. SHUTE FARM DOWNHEAD
Area for Research.

705445 Ht. 500ft. TOM TIVEYS HOLE E.C.
Rock shelter, neolithic remain date occupation to about 7000
Ref: Caves of Mendips.

708451 Ht. 480 ft. SEVEN SPRINGS
Ref: Caves of Mendips.

676450 Ht. 925 ft. CRANMORE TOWER Height about 125 ft.
Victorian tower which can be climbed despite notices, barbed wire and poor stairs. Top platform is at a height of about 1050 feet and the view is stupendous. The nearby radio mast is for the County Police.

660447 Ht. 750 ft. WATERLIP QUARRIES
Several small caves in vast disused quarry with very deep lake. One cave was used to take pumped water from workings. Area for possible research.
Ref: Caves of Mendips.

651454 Ht. 836 ft. ORAM'S SLOCKER
Rubbish filled old slocker on rock shown as Mesozoic, but probably overlying the limestone below.

651441 Ht.725ft CHELYNCH SLOCKER
Large mud filled but active slocker hole just to the east of cottages.

647439 Ht. 700 ft. HURLING POT. . .

640441 Ht. 725 ft. BODDEN
There is a large pond with a dry valley to the south at Hurlingpot. Ancient reports of people going underground between the two. Map shown mesozoic, but there is a limestone outcrop at Bodden.

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