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Hypogenic Cavern Development on The Quantocks, Somerset ?

The Old Ruminator

Well-known member
Work at Holwell 1969 by myself and Peter Glanvill. T'was here that we first met. Note the complex fault and dip aligned passages. The stream is a misfit vadose intrusion. Rumour had it that a very small schoolboy passed the 1969 dig to enter a chamber with a pool. Peter went off to university and our dig was never completed. That area is now covered by landfill. It was thought that the stream sinking in the 1969 dig in very wet weather re emerged in the west limit of the known Holwell system as shown here.


The Old Ruminator

Well-known member
Aley Cave geology. Quantock limestone dip is usually steeply to the east. Note that one section has been faulted and displaced. In many areas the limestone has been overlain by Triassic rocks notably the Sandstone which has in parts been extensively quarried.


The Old Ruminator

Well-known member
Qauntock Caves Accessability.

Please note that all sites are on private land. Please do not attempt to visit any without updated information as we continue to work on access agreements.

Cothelstone Hill Cave and the Rock Shelter

Close to the footpath. The landowner allows visits and digging at present. This is a bat roost in winter months.

Anything associated with mining.

Very little now remains as the fields have been heavily farmed over the last 200 years obscuring all evidence of mining. You will see the Glebe Engine House from the main road and the adit outflow portal in Sandy Lane. ( The adit has collapsed and is blocked ). Nearly everything around here is part of the 6,000 acre Fairfield Estate and worked by tenant farmers. Fairfield do not encourage visitors roaming off the public footpaths.

Holwell Cavern.

Currently access by the farmer is denied. We do not lose hope that access might be regained. Tipping in the quarry blocked the Tradesmans Entrance and the 1968 dig but has not resumed in recent years. As far as I know the cavern has been delisted as an SSSI and has no legal protection so best avoided for the moment.

Aley Cave.

Now in a quarry that lies beyond the swimming pool of a large bungalow. We blocked the entrance c 1970.

Tuppeny Tubes.

Small tubes in a cliff face in an overgrown quarry. Access unknown. (See Somerset Underground Vol. 1 p 207 by Rob Taviner for this and other Quantock Sites ).

Holwell Combe Quarry Cave.

The quarry now forms part of the garden behind a bungalow. Access unknown.

The 1968 Dig. That part of Holwell Cavern noted previously.


After our visits the quarry was sold and now forms a private nature reserve with some rare plants. The owner lives in the village so is often there. Please do not visit here and get us locals a bad name as we continue to persue access arrangements.

The Old Ruminator

Well-known member
The huge Jackdaw Cavern at Cannington.

From my log 1968.

The cavern. Possibly relating in formation to Pen Park Hole at Bristol. Looking towards the boulder pile noted in the plan.


The Old Ruminator

Well-known member
Hypogenic caverns can be totally isolated from the surface and from further cave developments. All in the Quantocks and at Cannington have been revealed by quarrying. They can also form maze caves like Holwell. It might not be enough to call the Quantocks a caving area but what we have seen here so far surely proves that we have further potential.


The Holwell helectites that 1 found in 1964 and never got around to photographing. Maybe one day if I can still get there but note again that there is no current access. Photo by Peter Glanvill.

Holwell Caverns was was always one of my favorite caves, the passage shapes were perfect, the chimneys formed in beautiful solutional tubes, we had a dig in the chambers above Andrew Crosses Chamber, I felt it was promising... I was saddened when the landowner died because he was a great guy, always helpful and and put no limits on our visits... It is a really shame the access changed because I felt and still do, it is a quality cave..... and with it's unique geology and amazing place in the history of British Literature


Active member
Holwell was one of my favourite caves as a teenager - it was a lovely cave and the standard bits were like a slightly more challenging Goatchurch. Some of the bits round the edges were much more technical but always seemed 'safe'. Rather like bouldering as opposed to highball climbing - you could try really difficult narrow rifts without a feeling of total commitment. At the time, its historical significance escaped me... Which is more a comment on me as a teenage Philistine than anything.


Well-known member
It was the second cave we ever did. I seem to recall visiting on the way home from our first underground trip in Goatchurch Cavern and we visited it regularly, as a consequence meeting up with OR for the first time then digging there, discovering Cerberus Chamber in the late 60's. I am sure there is more to be found. Sadly it was delisted as a SSSI and lost the protection it had.