Wigmore Revisited (Again!)

by Chris Smart

From:- Belfry Bulletin No. 406/407, February/March 1982

After a brief (!) interval of 15 months the Wigmore dig was revisited by Tony Jarratt, Ron Bridger (Luton Ron) and Chris Smart on Sat. 30th January. We were suprised to find almost all the cave open and digging was only required for a total of ten minutes in 'Christmas Crawl' and 'Pinks & Posies'. The dig out of the 'Smoke Room' was attacked and the loose mud and pebble infill was easily removed, along with a few boulders to be stacked back in the 'Smoke Room'. The dig was draughting well and looked promising, if a little worrying when one pondered on the stabi1ity of the roof.

On returning to the digging face later in the afternoon I noticed a small slot under the wall immediately before the 'Smoke Room' that appeared to have taken the stream at some time in the recent past. This was enlarged to allow one to get one's head under the lip to see open passage for 3 m (10ft.).

The decision was made to dig this new passage (Blitz Passage) and Sunday morning saw the attack remounted by J-Rat and Trev Hughes. They managed to excavate sufficient of the passage to be able to see into a l½m. (5ft.) diameter chamber. The original Smoke Room dig was also revisited and both were reported as draughting strongly.

The following Saturday (6.2.82) saw J-Rat and Chris Smart return to the dig to discover approximately 2 ton of collapsed mud, spoil, boulders and conglomerate in the Smoke Room. This was blocking the old way on and took J-Rat about an hour to clear sufficient of the debris to re-open the entrance to the dig. During this time I managed to enlarge Blitz Passage and squeeze in to see the way on continuing down dip. However a point of interest was noted in that the stream water could be heard dropping some distance through the boulders forming the floor of the small chamber. Some more gardening was completed in the 'Smoke Room' but further collapses will occur here and it was decided to concentrate solely on the Blitz Passage' dig. Combined work in the small chamber has now exposed an upstream section running parallel to 'Pinks & Posies' and the partly mud-infilled downstream section that is easily dug. The way on is open and digging must continue. Stacking of spoil is probably best in the 'Smoke Room' (with care!) or by a determined effort in the chamber at the start of 'Pinks and Posies'!.

Some additional, random thoughts:

1) I should like to thank the Club for the purchase of some plasticated cloth bags that have proved excellent for the Wigmore mud - the water oozes out and the bags set like concrete;

2) The new manager of the farm area (Rob?) is an ex-caver and ex-Axbridge, ex-Wessex and ex-U.B.S.S. member. He is more than interested in the dig and its results, but is concerned that the entrance grill is not locked;

3) In Trev's last Wigmore article he states "it is credible to suggest that the conglomerate passage bifurcates at this point (the terminal choke), but this is not my belief." I think that Blitz Passage shows that bifurcation is present and may be an example of differential solubility of the Triassic conglomerate. Frequent roof falls in the past and a subsequent build up of mud and gravel, etc., would exploit such weaknesses;

4) A digging team of two is feasible, but with three or even four, well, who knows? The Cheddar Master Cave can only be a few metres away!

Wigmore Swallet + survey, A. Jarratt. B.B. No. 371 (March 1979)

Wigmore Revisited, T. Hughes B.B. Nos. 391/392 (Nov/Dec 1980).

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