Orchard Wood Tunnel

A tunnel into the cliff face north of Oakwood Farm and west of The Rocks

Possibly also known as Rocks Rift

The Rocks comprises a community of a few houses with their own private drive, some 3 km
south south-east of Marshfield and about 700 m west of the Fosse Way (Roman road). Colerne
Airfield lies just to the north-east on the other side of the Fosse Way. The houses stand above a
small quarried cliff overlooking woodland, which descends steeply into a tributary’ valley of the
St Catherine’s Brook. Access to the cave is from a rough track through the woods (which are
privately owned), striking up from the track as soon as houses are seen through the trees on the
hillside above. At the foot of the cliff is an ornamental pond with a cave entrance clearly visible
behind. The cave entrance has a decorative iron gate which is padlocked. Access is controlled
by The Rocks East Woodland Garden project.
The cave is a single straight passage of 36 m length (orientation 130°) ending in an
unstable fill of boulders. The extraordinary feature of The Rocks Rift is that it has been entirely
excavated, the original gull having once been filled with a heterogeneous mixture of sediments
including flowstone fragments and many boulders. The fill has been removed to reveal most of
the rock walls, which are about I m apart and coated in places with a thick calcite flowstone.
The passage height varies, but is generally around 2 m. with the cave roof being unexcavated
fill. Voids within the fill contain small stalactites or popcorn corallites, still actively growing,
and in once place there are corlactites (a hybrid between stalactites and corallites (Maltsev,
1997). An efflorescent mineral deposit growing from one sediment-lined wall is probably

gypsum. Much of the cave has a black oily/sooty coating, suggesting that earlier visitors used
burning torches for illumination.
Fifteen metres to the south of The Rocks Rift, there is a gull which appears to have
been widened by the removal of the joint-bounded rock from one wall. Trickling water flows
from above (artificially supplied) into two artificial pools lined with cement. An iron fence
spans the ‘grotto’ entrance. This extraordinary collection of follies is currently being restored
by The Rocks East Woodland Garden project. A local householder spoke of other gull
caves beneath and beside the private drive leading to the houses.