Posted by Barry on 2nd December 2012

Meeting up at Penwyllt on this chilly sunny morning, it appears that we were all very keen to go caving as everyone was nice and early. So after a bit of a discussion, we decided upon a trip into OFD1 as we had two new prospective members with us, who had both done plenty of caving before, so they would be happy with the streamway and traverses. Meanwhile Kingsley and Adrian decided that they would go and have a walk over towards Pant Mawr Pot as the weather was looking fine. I then went and organized our OFD1 key and filled in the form for the five of us. As we were walking down to the entrance, we meet up with Julia who had just parked by the old railway station, anyway we continued downwards making the most of this sunshine. Once at the entrance and with the gate open, we had a good draught as we descended down into the cave itself. From here we followed the normal route towards the Step where we were to enter the streamway, levels were quite normal as we had not really had a significant amount of rain for a few days now and only light rain was forecasted for later on today.

Even though the stream was normal, I did not bother trying to keep my feet dry as this takes so much effort and once I have water filled wellies, my feet soon warm up. I managed to capture a few photographs on route as the group moved up the stream, without slowing them down. We seemed to move quite quickly and was soon at Lowes Chain (but without the chain), this is where our steppy thing works well, enabling me to quickly climb up and then make up the complete steps for everyone else to ascend with ease. Once all up with continued along Lowe’s Passage before climbing up over the boulders up towards Roundabout Chamber, the Rawl Series and Pi Chamber,  from here we then dropped back down through the little hole into Bolt Passage and onto the Traverse. We continued onwards until we popped back out at one of the junctions where we came in earlier. After the Toast Rack, we explored the other side of Pluto’s Bath, back down to the stream, then on our return we all managed to traverse Pluto’s Bath, I think having the camera ready, made them more determined not to take the plunge (I will get someone one day). As we had made good time, we decided to go and explore Skeleton Chamber, and once again made good use of our steppy thing, as we lowered ourselves down through the hole, this also made getting back out a lot easier. From here we then made our way back to the entrance and back out into daylight, where we were greeted by dull skys and light rain (which made us feel better, as we thought the day looked so much better for walking this morning). On route back up the Penwyllt, we met Kingsley and Ben who was on his way down to meet us. Another enjoyable trip was had by all.                                 

Crochan Sion Hopkin

Posted by Pauline on 4th November 2012

Only Barry, Kingsley and I were available for this month’s club trip so we arranged to meet at Crickhowel car park before deciding what to do.  It was quite a nice day so we decided on a shorter trip than the scheduled Agen Allwedd so we could get back into our gardens.  We had also heard from Paul that he, Phil and company had extended their dig in Crochan Sion Hopkin.  While Barry and Kingsley had already visited they were keen to see the extension and I hadn’t been in at all.
            We drove up on to Mynydd Llangatwg and parked in the lay-by nearest the track to the big sink hole where Crochan Sion Hopkin is situated.  After getting changed we wandered over to a new sign on the Blaen Onneu Quarry side of the road.  It was notification that Mynydd Llangatwg was now designated Site of Special Scientific Interest, but not the Crickhowel side of the road.
            After walking down the track, we unhooked the gate to the shelter and removed the security rocks from the gate to the shaft.  Barry entered first and disappeared down the first ladder.  I followed then Kingsley.  We descended down various ladders, all different widths, lengths and rung spacing, and set at slightly different angles.  Around the shaft there was a substantial amount of scafolding securing the sides of loose boulders.  However once you reach the main shaft, the loose rock disappears and the sides are water worn rock.  Here is the longest ladder which requires a few thoughts on safety.  As we hadn’t come prepared with descenders and ascenders, Barry life-lined Kingsley and I down before he abseiled down. 
            From the bottom of the ladder the passage went horizontally off to the left.  It became narrower and lower so that you were crawling on hands and knees.  In one place there was a plank to make progress easier over a small rift.  This was followed by a section of carpet in a particularly muddy bit. After a couple more twists and turns the end of the passage, so far, seemed to be full of options as there were many gaps to investigate.
            Once we had all investigated the tunnel we started to make our way up the ladders.  Barry went up first while I belayed him from the bottom then he life-lined us up.  On the way up I noticed several quartz nodules which had washed out of the millstone grit above.  I was able to show Kinglsey how to make them glow in the dark by striking them together as you would light a match. 
            Once we had all got out and all the security measures had been put back we headed to the cars and got changed.  Just as we drove away I spotted a hen harrier being mobbed by some crows.

Ogof Draenen

Posted by Barry on 7th October 2012

We met up opposite the Lamb and Fox Inn at about 12.30pm as this time worked better for some members. Anyway for once it was not raining and actually felt quite warm for October, so off we went down to the entrance, and as soon as we had that gate open Darren was in setting the pace. I thought the water levels might had been higher in the entrance series, but they seemed to be normal, although I did believe that more water was now flowing down the scaffold descent than what use to flow.

Once at the head of the first pitch, we set up the ladder and lifeline, and were soon all down and into Cairn Junction where we filled in the log book with our destination as Gilwern Passage. So we entered Wonderbra and then turn right and eventually popped back out into larger passage, where we would pick up Gilwern Passage, but as we entered Gilwern Passage for some reason I was not convinced we were in the right place, so a bit of back tracking and exploring was done before returning back to where we were and yes it was still Gilwern Passage. This passage soon opened up and it was as I remembered, stopping at the various formations on route, we then reached Old Illtydian’s Chamber, where we climbed up and explored. Returning back down to Gilwern Passage, we then dropped down and worked our way through the boulder choke into Forever Changed (We had to make sure that Darren did not eat a Mars Bar whilst this side of the boulder choke otherwise he would not be making it back out again). This passage is a total contrast to Gilwern Passage, with it’s sandy floor and small stream which we were mostly walking in, plus it has some nice clean formations on route. At the next junction called Y Gwter Fawr, we turned left following the stream which we followed as far as the duck that would take us into Breadfruit Boulevard, but this would have to be another trip as time was getting on. So it was at this point that we made our return journey, back at Cairn Junction, I filled in the book to say that we were all out, whilst Darren and Reuben continued to the pitch, where Darren took charge of life lining us all up the ladder. It was then just a matter of packing up the ladder, rope etc. and then just continue up through the entrance series and back out into daylight where the weather was still dry and warm. The trip was finished off with tea and biscuits at Dave’s house in front of a roaring log burner, making for a very enjoyable trip and end.      


Posted by Barry on August 5th 2012

As no-one else wanted to play underground, Kingsley and I went on our own. We decided on a firtle around an area we normally walk past and not pay any attention to, the Big Chamber by the Entrance and the maze of tunnels connecting that to Arête Chamber and the Wedding Cake. It was nice and dry when we got to Penwyllt but there were black clouds looming in the distance. We got ourselves changed and constructed a belt out of Kingsley’s sling and krab (I hadn’t been able to locate mine that morning) before setting off on the walk up the hill to top entrance. It was even sunny when we got there so we sat for a while before we struggled with the key in the padlock to open the gate. We struggled again to get the key out of the padlock so that we could secure the gate on entering. We knew we would struggle seeing in the dark of the cave but it was worth it and we just sat for a while in the dark, just inside the entrance, to let our eyes adjust before moving on. We wandered down the entrance passage, past the first turning to the Big Camber and a row of stalagmites looking like a set of teeth to the second turning. Hopping over and around the big boulders (slowly) we noted that they seemed quite dry and less slippery than sometimes. We continued on to the end of the chamber and down the passage on the right-hand side of a pillar of rock. However the Hereford Caving Club sat-nav had malfunctioned and we found ourselves looking down a deep hole with no easy descent. Not what Kingsley had expected in the passage we were aiming for. We checked on the other side of the pillar before back-tracking to a passage we had passed on our right on the way through Big Chamber. He had ruled it out saying that it went to the Wedding Cake but once we entered it he recognised the way on and was back on track.

We did pass a couple of low passages that possibly went to the Wedding Cake but we continued on to turn right into a walking sized rift passage. Taking another right we were in larger passage. I was walking ahead and had to be called back to a left turn. This descended slightly until we were in a chamber with several ways on in all directions. Firstly we turned right, continuing to descend until we came to a large hole in the floor. This was the opening above Arête Chamber. There was a very inviting extension of the passage on the other side of the hole and it did look like it was possible to traverse around but as there were only two of us, perhaps it was better to play safe. We returned to the chamber and explored various small passages, some of which were very muddy, but they all closed down. Eventually we returned to our way into the chamber, turning left at the top of the slope. We followed this for a while and took another left at a T-junction. Suddenly we started to recognise features and realised that we were at the Wedding Cake. There was a very short debate about whether to go back into the maze and explore further or head out from there. We decided on the latter and made our way out. The sun wasn’t shining anymore and it was beginning to spot with rain. By the time we got back to the car it was quite steady. Luckily Kingsley’s car has a fitted umbrella so we were able to stay relatively dry as we changed. We then headed into Penwyllt to look at the survey and have our lunch.

Pant Mawr Pot

Posted by Pauline on 1st July 2012

Barry, Jan, Pete Sprules and Pauline arrived at Penwyllt in good time and Kingsley arrived shortly after to accompany us on our walk over. Barry went to organise the ticket while everyone else got ready. It seems that most times we visit this cave it is raosting hot or there is snow on the ground. This wasn’t the case this time but at least it was relatively dry. We set off for the walk over the top, past Top Entrance and the limestone pavement. It always seems longer that you remember from there to the descent down to the wall. Barry kept telling us ‘This is the last uphill, downhill all the way from the top.’ then there would be another uphill section and another. As we got to the top of the rise before the final descent, we could see Paul and Jo waiting by the Entrance. They had walked up from the Neath Valley side. When we got down to the Entrance we had a chat with Paul and Jo before Barry and I disappeared down to set up the ropes. Consequently I was first down and narrowly missed a dead sheep directly below the rope. At least it wasn’t smelling too strongly! Once everyone was down we set off down the stream.

The water levels were about normal but there were patches of foam in places suggesting that it had been a little higher not that long ago. We followed the main passage, working our way through the boulder chokes as we met them, only pausing once to admire the stals in an oxbow above the stream. A muddy bank had Jan and myself slithering about for a while, trying to find the best way up. Once we had gained the Great Hall, we decided to visit the Chapel as we often marched past it on the way back. Pete hadn’t been there for many years and it is always interesting getting up and down the calcite slope. The mass of pure white straws and helectites smothering the walls is amazing. From the Chapel we descended to the main passage and the stream. Continuing along here we passed the Fire Hydrant which seemed to have plenty of water pumping out. We decided not to venture up it. It wasn’t far now to get to the rifts which signify the beginning of the end. We recalled that Barry had found it difficult to fight against current last time we were here because the water levels had been so high. This time however, it was easy going to walk along the rifts to the sump. The journey back was journey back was straight forward and we were soon at the foot of the ladder. Barry went up first to lifeline the rest of us and haul the bags up. As we reached the top and made our way up the slope, we found Kinglsey waiting patiently with Ben III. They had been for a walk around the moor and returned to escort us back to the cars.

Agen Allwedd

Posted by Barry on 29th May 2012

This trip was organised in response to two Americans, Quentin and Heather, contacting the club to see if we could take them underground during their visit to Hereford. Apparently they used to live there but had not gone caving. Emails flew back and forth and eventually we settled on a date and a time. As most of those that were able to come were working we arranged to meet at 6pm at Crickhowell car park. Jan was there when I got there and Kingsley arrived shortly afterwards. While I dashed off to get some chips for supper Barry arrived on his motorbike. As we were nattering a young man wandered over. This turned out to be Quentin. Once he had confirmed that we were the tour guides he fetched Heather over and we made our introductions before loading up two cars for the short drive up to the farm. Once there we quickly got changed and started the walk up to the cave. It was a pleasant evening, dry and not too warm, although we did decid to carry our over suits. Before long we were at the gate. We sat a while as we finished putting on kit but we didn’t hang around too long as the midges were beginning to find us. Then, as Barry opened the gate, a swarm of gnats flew out. Once we were inside they all settled down. Barry filled in the book and we all set off through the entrance series. We pointed out the original entrance and continued on through the rifts as we discussed bats and the White Nose Disease prevalent in the USA. Heather and Quentin explained that they didn’t use oversuits because they were harder to clean than ordinary clothes thereby preventing the disease being spread from cave to cave. We continued on through the crawls and into larger passage. By this time, Heather and Quentin were enthusing about the character of Aggy. Quite different to caves they had been in before. As we negotiated the climbs and crawls through boulder chokes this increased.

Eventually we emerged into from the last crawl into Main Passage. We sat for a short rest as we took in
the size of the passage. Heather also shared out some dark chocolate, which was much appreciated. We wandered down Main Passage, admiring the cracked mud then Barry too Quentin and Heather down to look at the steam-way. The rest of us waited and chatted in the dark. When they returned, we continued down Main Passage taking in many things we often whizz past. We found the bat skeleton in a corneras well as selenite crystals pushing up through the mud in several locations. Unfortunately there also seemed to be new graffiti – someone had cut letters into the smooth cracked mud behind the tape in a couple of places. Barry took photos so that we could let Elsie know. Finally we got to the Music Stand and following tradition we asked Heather and Quentin to give us a song. We knew that they were musicians but we had not expected Quentin to produce a pipe which he proceeded to play a tune on. This was followed by a song accompanied by drumming on their chests. We then made our way out to emerge to a fantastic sunset. We only stopped long enough at the gate to take off helmets and oversuits before the walk back to the farm due to the midges. Once there we got changed quickly and returned Heather and Quentin to Crickhowel where their friend was waiting.

Cwmorthin Mine

Posted by Jan on 6th May 2012

Good choice of camp site Allen, seclusion, lake side and wondrous bird song at dawn. We were camped on the Southern shore of Trawsfyndd reservoir with views of Moelwyn Mawr and Moelwyn Bach in the distance, and due west the Arenigs. The small, but exclusive Hereford Team met with the rest of the gang up at the planned car park, introductions all round, quick change and we were off. In through the locked gate Mr Cwmorthin himself, Tony Wilson SCMC, led the way. We went right and left and up and down and left and right and through and down and up, then more rights and lefts, passing vast chambers hewn out of the rock.  When mining slate there is a hell of a lot of waste, in fact around Cwmorthin and Ffestiniog it looks like the mountain has been turned inside out!
Many caverns we passed through were littered with artefacts of a bygone age, although not all that ‘bygone’ as the mine was still being worked up until 1972. 2 very large cylinders that I took to be tea urns turned out to be something to do with air compression. A mini water wheel powered by a poor flow of water (I think a hamster could have helped) managed to give a little light in one of the chambers. Eventually, after a couple of hours, we arrived at the farthest most point of the trip, and it was lunch time. We were all gathered round what looked like a sacrificial stone, when I was suddenly aware of (I kid you not) champagne corks a popping! Party Time! It just so happened to be Tony’s 50th Birthday. 2 birthday cakes were produced, flask of whiskey, birthday cards and several bottles of champagne. The candles were lit and we all launched into a joyous chorus of ‘Happy Birthday’. I must say our voices several hundred feet underground sounded surprisingly good. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better the pyrotechnics started. Had these guys really stuffed their tackle bags full of Roman Candles and the like???? (The mine was created by explosives after all, though it would have been a bit of a no no in a cave situation) All the bottles and birthday debris was meticulously cleared away before we started lefting and righting going up very dodgy looking steps, then up some even more dodgier looking steps. A bit of wading and an interesting traverse finally bought us back to where we had started. It had been a fantastic trip, made all the more enjoyable by the humour within the party, and their knowledge of the environment. Back out in the sunshine, I had a wild idea that I could just about climb Moelwyn Mawr and Moelwyn Bach before the sun went down. So I did.

April Club Trip

Posted by Barry on 1st April2012

Today trip should had been to Westbury Brook Mine in the Forest of Dean, but due to members able to cave being a bit thin on the ground, we decided to change our plans. So instead we visited a site near Llangynidr, our group being Kingsley, Wolf, Allen and Barry, obviously this site had not been visited for quite a while, as we had to dig ourselves in, and as we were not really tooled up for this, we had to make a few compromises with various bits of kit including our tackle bags to haul debris out. Anyway with it being a nice sunny day it was a pleasure to stop and actually have lunch outside in the sunshine, before we returned back into the darkness. It was not long before we were now able to crawl inside and continue with our caving trip. Once we had all got in, we started exploring the various passages, which all closed down eventually, even thou the final caving trip was rather short, we all had a great day digging our way in and having a bit of a explore underground and finally getting back out into the nice warm sunshine.  

Agen Allwedd

Posted by Linda on 4th March 2012

I had forgotten (probably due to my age) where the cave was and how far we had to walk to get to it, and it’s probably not very far. You have to walk over a marshy field and then climb, slide, fall flat on your face and somehow get up this ever so slight (ha, ha) escarpment. Which I did and in the process got extremely fed up. Any way we eventually reached the entrance and entered into the darkness (hooooooo). I’m not the slimmest gal in the world and found getting over a boulder in the entrance very difficult, on to the next bit and we had to traverse ( which I find absolutely petrifying) as I don’t have big feet and find putting my trust in my wellies and body is nearly impossible. So……. On wards and upwards we went, climbing boulders heaving and hoeing our selves about. We stopped for a bit of lunch and after about half an hour I had really, really had enough and so the census of opinion was we would depart. I personally was chuffed to bits as I had not had a good trip at all, and to cap it all I still had to walk down this chuffing escarpment. Needless to say I will not ever, ever be going  into Agen Allwedd again. My thanks must go to those other people on the trip who had to cajole, encourage, and put up with me; Pauline Hill, Jan Langmeed, Kingsley Hawkins and Allen Vowles.