Halecombe Quarry

Halecombe Quarry

Halecombe quarry is a fully working quarry, its first load way back in 1854.  Currently operated by La Farge Tarmac, owned by Hobbs, the quarry has expanded dramatically and has excavated down several benches below the water table, with strict regimes of pumping and water disposal. Standing above on the peripheral public pathway, the views down into the quarry and across the fields beyond are extraordinary. You get a sense of man’s industry at work from afar – a bird’s eye view into dinky land, man’s toil and rubble, spewing out thousands of tonnes of rock for our roads and airports – particularly Gatwick – all over the South of England.

Nick Weaver, Christina White and I were taken on a special tour of the inside workings of Halecombe by Vaughan Gray recently. On a lower level, we saw the most incredible vertical seabed with very visible ripple patterns running through it – ripples made in the carboniferous period, so precious that Vaughan is guarding it to ensure it doesn’t get quarried.

Photo by Christina White

Photo above by Christina White, who will be revealing the inside of Halecombe on the outside, as part of the Trail

Grand tour of Halecombe - inside and out

Halecombe is proud of its good relationship with neighbours, especially with Leigh-on-Mendip primary school, who visit the peripheral area for forest school activities. They’ve even made some lovely posters reminding dog-walkers to be a little more caring of their environment…

Earlier on this year, Nick Weaver and I felt we wanted to enhance the experience of walking round the quarry.  On Easter bank holiday Monday, Nick and I enjoyed the warm spring sunshine while sowing wildflower seeds on molehills along the pathway.  Ideally seeds need a well cultivated bed of soil to germinate and grow well so, rather than choosing where to sow the seeds and then digging over a patch of grassland we decided to let the moles choose and do all the hard digging work for us.  All we had to do was scatter the seeds, pat them down and give them a little water. Time will tell if this is a success or a flop but it seems like a fun idea at the moment and if it works there will be an intriguing display of wildflowers in randomly distributed little patches during the summer.   ‘step in stone’  have teamed up with Somerset Wildlife Trust with a view to promoting their current ‘Save Our Magnificent Meadows’ project, and we wanted to say something about the interaction of quarrying with the environment and local people. Slightly eccentric, perhaps.

IMG_9990 IMG_9989 Sowing seeds on molehills

Save Our Magnificent Meadows is not only about saving existing wildflower meadows but also aims to restore and recreate flower rich habitats which support a huge range of wildlife as well as just looking beautiful. Our 4 guided walks in collaboration with them, will involve experiencing the wildlife close-up, with both an artist and wildflower expert.  For more information or to book a place on one of these walks visit: https://stepinstonesomerset.wordpress.com/workshops-walks-talks/

Fiona Campbell & Nick Weaver  19/5/15

work in progress

Finally got going on this malarky!!

New camera at last, just getting to grips with it….

Attached some on going ideas about the black limestone from the quarry.

What an industrial space, a space loaded with memories.

Scar print


Cath Bloomfield  18/5/15

Suzie’s trial pieces

'Finds' suspended on wool card

“Finds” Suspended on Wool Cords

Tying two heritages together from the Westdown /Ashdown Wood Quarry area.   The artefacts have all been found rusting away during walks in the area of the former quarry – relics of its past history. They are held on wool cords to depict a second element of the areas past and present history and heritage – sheep.

Alice and Jacob Sunbathing!

Alice and Jacob Sunbathing!

Two fleeces washed and drying out in the sun before carding. More to go!

Fairy Cave – A fairy ring of stones at Fairy Cave Quarry

Fairy Cave – A fairy ring of stones at Fairy Cave Quarry

Trialing out the possibility of a large felt “ball” to be held within ring of stones which are already in situ at Fairy Cave. The finished piece will not be red or plastic!!

Large Stones Large Stones

Large Stones

Photographs of possible large stone in the Westdown Quarry area – which large stone might be the best to felt around?

blue tit

Blue Tit

Nature getting its own back – blue tit stealing the felted wool back off the rock!

Suzie's trial felt/rock piecesSuzie's trial felt/rock pieces

Trial felted rock pieces

Suzie Gutteridge  13/5/15

Westdown Figure of Eight

[Ralph Hoyte} Forgot to take map of figure-of-eight walk when last visited Westdown Quarry. Blue GPS track is my route, picture below is the actual figure-of-eight. I’ll probably use Appfurnace software to configure the GPS-triggered walkscape. Users will need to download Appfurnace onto their smartphone. You then scan a QR code in (which will be made available to you somehow, possibly people will have to register with me, then I can send it to them). When you encounter a virtual pool of content, you will be able to listen to it on your iPhone or Google Android smartphone. No, no network signal is required, just a GPS fix, which your phone will do automatically.

Westdown - figure of eight


Ralph Hoyte  5/5/15