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Anyway Rocket Drop

The following account describes the exploration of a small cave that took nearly three years for the caving population on Mendip to hear about, let alone descend the place.  Accompanying this article is the survey and a group of photographs.  Having done a deal with the Wessex, your Editor managed through the good offices of 'Backbone', to get the survey decently printed and to supply the Wessex for their needs in exchange for the printed pages of the photograph.  One would expect Macmillan’s, David & Charles, Longmans etc. to get caving photos upside, down but NOT the Wessex.  However, they did succeed in doing so - says a lot for their organisation!  Memo to all BEC members 'Have to take the Wessex caving and show them the difference between stals!

by Claire Williams

Rocket Drop first opened in the spring of 1974 when a small, though deep hole opened in one of our fields. The earth continued to subside making a conical hole about 12 feet round and about 10 feet deep leading to a narrow rift.  The rift is about 10ft deep and leads down into a large chamber.

This was explored by Colin (Williams) who found a blind pit on one side of the decorated chamber. The way one proved to be a wriggle through boulders in the bottom of a steeply sloping boulder floor.  This led to a small chamber with flowstone covering the walls below which is a tricky climb of about 20ft (rope advisable). This has now been altered by throwing a boulder or two about to make an easier 15ft climb.  At the bottom the way on was choked with boulders and mud.

Little progress was made over the next few years although our dog, Rocket, was a somewhat surprised Speleodog when he fell down the entrance pitch - hence the name Rocket Drop. The Wessex kindly offered to help with the entrance shaft piping and gating during the autumn of 1977.  After six months or so, many words, much muscle and some brains, four pipes were placed in the cave entrance (they don't get much practise at this sort of thing!).  This made the entrance into a 30ft pitch.

Over the summer of 1977, Colin, Pete Moody and Alison Hooper dug the choke at the bottom of the second rift to enter a long narrow gallery.  This has fine straws end some mud formations.

Further digging and banging opened a low passage at the end of the Second Chamber leading to a tight 15ft vertical rift and the Third Chamber.  From this final chamber a low constricted tube, similar to Easy Street in nearby Pinetree Pot, leads off for a short distance where work is continuing.

The cave is in horizontally bedded limestone and is formed along a series of joints and is probably phreatic in origin.

Tackle required: -

Entrance pitch - 30ft. ladder and 100ft tether:

Blind Pit - 20ft. ladder attached to the entrance ladder.

2nd Pitch (rift) - 50ft hand line.

Access: The cave may be visited by arrangement with Colin either at home at Whitestown Farm, Cheddar Crossroads, Compton Martin, Bristol or at the Hunters (preferably with the offer of some beer!)

Acknowledgements:

Our thanks to the Wessex' A' team for gating (God only knows what the ‘B’ team is like!)

..to Fred Davies and Alan Mills for banging..

..Phil Hendy for the photos (they make it look much better than it really is even though they are upside down!)…

...the 'Wig' for the survey and everyone else who helped.

 

 

 

Brief survey notes: Instruments - Suunto compass and clinometer, 50ft fibron tape. Instruments were hand held and calibrated fulfilling the requirements of a Grade 5 survey.  Original drawing was inked on a stabil material and then photo reduced to suit the size of the BB.  Details of the side rift below the First Chamber were supplied by Phil Hendy.

D.J.I