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Heale Farm Cave

Heale Farm Cave was discovered by the Beechen Cliff School Caving Club over two years ago yet remains largely unknown and as far as I know is the first account of the cave to be published.  It is a significant cave in a so far unproductive area and its depth of 195 feet and length of around 500 feet make it the largest development found East of Stoke Lane Slocker.  The cave location is described in "The Caves of Mendip" under the name Heale Farm dig but the entrance is not obvious, being protected by lengths of timber which should be replaced on leaving the cave.

The cave entrance is a free climbable shaft which is 30 feet deep and must be treated with some care due to its instability.  Beneath the shaft, a series of steeply descending squeezes lead down between boulders to a short climb down into a roomier passage.  At this point, the stream becomes audible as a dull roar from below.  Passing through a small hole and climbing down past the hanging death (a suspended boulder) the stream is met emerging from under a boulder pile.  The streamway begins as a low wet crawl before the roof rises at the head of a 23 ft pitch into the Main Chamber.  This can be free climbed but a ladder is advised as the rock is rotten.  The pitch can be one of the wettest on Mendip and is certainly a highlight of any trip down the cave.

From the base of the pitch the large Main Chamber floor descends steeply to where the stream disappears through a hole in the floor.  Passing this point and continuing to the end of the chamber, another hole is reached and this is found to be the way on.  From this point the passages are covered in a thick deposit of glutinous mud and squeezing down be¬tween boulders leads back into the streamway for a short distance to where the stream vanishes into a muddy choke.  From this point the way on is upwards by climbing a 20 ft chimney (one wall is like a vertical manure heap) to a short section of level passage.  This passage ends over a choked pot above which is a difficult traverse and 20 ft climb up into the final 30 ft of passage which eventually becomes too tight to follow.

The Cave appears to be a one stage development formed along a fault.  The possibility of further passage is debateable but the terminal rift is 3 ft wide and over 30 ft high and shows no sign of narrowing before its total mud choke.  The cave still has 100 ft to drop before reaching a resurgence level (Seven Springs, Asham Wood).

One point which should be mentioned is that on the day the cave was dis¬covered the Main Chamber was sumped half way down.  The massive mud deposits in the cave begin at this point and there is the possibility of a seasonal sump (likely but not confirmed).  Access to the cave is controlled by the farmer who is very pleasant and obliging; let us hope that no-one spoils this situation.

The Survey: A copy of the Survey is shown opposite and is based on a BCRA Grade 4.  Several high level passages above the Main Chamber and Terminal Rift are omitted or drawn from memory.

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