Cheddar cavers discover underground chamber

Inside the chamber known as 'The Frozen Deep'. Photo: Longleat and Cheddar Gorge & Caves

A team of six cavers have discovered a giant underground chamber in Cheddar Gorge.

The massive chamber, which has been named ‘The Frozen Deep’ by the team, is thought to be the largest find in the South West for over 60 years and estimated to measure around 60 metres in diameter and up to 30 metres in height.

It contains some of the most stunning calcite formations ever found under the Mendips, including two five-metre-tall pure white columns of calcite surrounded by pure white flowstone covering the walls and floor.

The epic discovery was made by the ‘Tuesday Diggers’, a group of local experienced cavers which includes a retired teacher, two retired GPs and Nick Chipchase who recently celebrated his 65th birthday.

This is a truly significant discovery by the diggers which opens up a fascinating new chapter in the history of Mendip cave exploration.

The question already emerging is whether the diggers can now find a connection from The Frozen Deep to the River Cave.

For the moment, however, cavers across Mendip will celebrate the courage, endurance and spectacular achievements of the diggers.

They will now consolidate their ‘find’ by taping out walkways to protect the calcite formations from damage and carry out laser surveys of all the chambers, before allowing a limited number of cavers under their supervision to visit The Frozen Deep.

– Hugh Cornwell, Cheddar Gorge & Caves Director
The chamber features two five-metre-tall pure white columns of calcite. Credit: Longleat and Cheddar Gorge & Caves

The ‘Diggers’ were given exclusive access by Longleat, who own Cheddar Gorge, for the past four years to dig in ‘Reservoir Hole’ which is 150 metres east of the famous Pinnacles in Cheddar Gorge.

They concentrated on a side passage of the main cave and eventually broke through to a 20m long rift, then removing a large slab enabled them to crawl a further 15m into another chamber, 25m high and 20m long, which they named ‘Resurrection Chamber’.

This led them to a loose boulder slope, which ended in a 12m vertical pitch. Returning on Tuesday (September 4th), with rope and tackle, they descended the pitch into the largest chamber yet discovered under the Mendip Hills, containing the most stunning calcite formations to be found in recent times in any Mendip cave.