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Christmas At Wigmore

by J. Rat

To continue from the last report in B.B. No.357 (Jan '78, the Company undertook a considerable amount of Christmas overtime, resulting in the discovery of around 40ft. of new passage.

The gravel choke some 15ft. long the bedding crawl was cleared for 6ft to a blockage of fallen roof slabs with open passage visible beyond.   Alan Thomas granulated these on

18th December and on 24th December the way on was cleared into 6ft of low passage and a further boulder blockage.  Ross White spent a hectic session hurling himself at this until he squeezed through into a further 20ft of low, wide bedding plane crawl developed in what appears to be a band of mudstone.  There is a squeeze midway and a further roof slab collapse terminated this section, though an impressive draught whistled on into the unknown.  In honour of the date the passage was provisionally dubbed "Christmas Crawl" - not original but only to be thus named if we entered a Santa's Grotto beyond - very unlikely in such a restricted system of conglomerate/mudstone passages.

The festive grub, booze and television (!) at the Belfry destroy all enthusiasm for two days, but on the 27th we returned to apply size 9 boots to the offending blockage which yielded after a few strenuous minutes.  Tony Jarrett squeezed into the opening and removed the boulders from the far side to allow Chris Batstone and his last two days of gluttony into the new section.  They were relieved to find themselves a 15ft. square breakdown chamber with loose boulders walls, floor and ceiling.  This cavity was presumably caused by collapse into the original bedding plane below. No obvious way on was discernable but there was evidence of at least one sizable stream having sunk in the floor. The draught dispersed here as far as we could tell.

What pleased us most was the discovery of a well decorated anti-chamber containing several short but attractive straws, a pair of 9” stalactites, various small mud formations and two crystal floors formed over washed away mud deposits.  We now had our 'Santa's Grotto'.  The pretties have been photographed by the Surrey Heath contingent but would be welcome as any work in the chamber may affect them.  Anyone visiting please take great care not to touch them.

Digging has now been temporarily halted to allow stabilisation of the entrance shaft to be completed.  Some 30ft of ginging has been constructed on the far side of the shaft and work has also started the near side.  Stu Lindsey will be delighted to see anyone who wishes to help with this project or can supply sand, cement or gravel.  We hope to bring the stonework up to the level of the shaft lip and cover the opening with some form of iron grid and trapdoor.  The site has to be tidied up and made safe at the wishes of Lord Waldegrave. We hope to leave the cave unlocked, though a couple of nuts and bolts may be installed as children are known to play in the area.  A further report will follow when necessary.

Ed. Note: - An elevation of the cave appears on the following page.

Sketch survey of WIGMORE SWALLET

BB359-Wigmore.jpg 

Elevation – BCRA Grade 1. Length about 150ft.  Depth about 75ft.