Craig a Ffynnon

Posted by Pauline on 13th January 2013

Cavers, Team 1: Adam, Duncan, Mark, Phil, Darren, Rueben, Pete, Pauline, Team 2: Barry, Rae.  Walkers: Jan, Kingsley, Ann
It was a bit crowded on the grass verge above the lime kilns by the time we got cars for all these people parked up even though people had been very good and shared where possible.  We all got changed and because of the large turn out we had to split into two teams.  Somehow Barry managed to persuade Rae to go up North West Inlet, a decision she later regretted and not because she got wet. However they first joined the other team as far as the pitch because Barry wanted to see how the new footholds altered the climb.  On the way in we noted that NW inlet was accessible.   In fact there was quite a bit of air space. Barry climbed the pitch first to set up a lifeline although Darren followed him up before it was ready.  Before long Barry was back down and he disappeared with Rae.  Darren belayed the rest of us up. Duncan and Mark had resorted to their climbing harnesses for this bit and took them off again at the top. Once Phil was up, he continued into the boulder choke so that he could go at his own speed.  Pauline waited for Duncan and Mark before continuing in.  Rueben and Pete brought up the rear with Darren.  It worked perfectly.  Pauline only caught site of Phil’s boots as he was psyching himself up for the final squeeze before popping out into a large chamber.  Each caver breathed a sigh of relief as they emerged and we had a short rest before continuing. At this point we were at the top of a boulder slope which had to be descended before climbing up a calcited slope on the other side.  As we looked back the leaders were struck by how dramatic it looked with the pools of light from the others illuminating the slope.  It would have made a good photo!  We passed stalactites, stalagmites and huge gour pools which we took time to admire. 
Eventually the passage started turning.  There was a passage to the right which we ignored for now.  We continued as the path turned to the left and opened out into a huge chamber, the Hall of the Mountain King.    Again we stopped to admire the calcite that cascades from the roof to the floor.  It is really hard to appreciate it all as caving lights only illuminate small parts of it. 


Darren and Rueben decided t have a firtle in the 3rd boulder choke while the rest of us went to explore the right hand passage.  That had a sandy floor and several water worn tubes disappearing off in different directions.  Pauline and Phil went straight on, Pete went left, Duncan and Mark vanished round a corner to the right.  Eventually we all regrouped and started our journey back.  Darren and Rueben caught up with us at the pitch.  Pauline and Darren swapped over at the pitch head which resulted in confusion over the ropes and the wrong one was brought out.  Hey-ho! When we got to the book, we could see that Barry and Rae were out.  As we emerged into the cold sunlight it became apparent that all was not well.  Pauline asked if they had been waiting long.  Barry replied ‘no only 15 minutes’ but Rae added ‘and the other hour!’ She explained to me on the way back to the car that Barry had started repeating phrases, asking where the rest of us were and had not remembered things they had passed on the way in as they were coming out.  He was caving fine and knew where they were and where they had to go, just nothing about that particular trip.  Talking to Barry outside, it became apparent that he didn’t remember any of the trip.  It didn’t make me too happy when we realised that we had to go back in to swap the ropes and Barry insisted that he would go.  Luckily it didn’t take us long. His state of confusions became even more apparent in the car on the way back (Jan was driving) as he kept asking the same questions over and over again.  In the end we didn’t stop home long enough at home for a cup of tea or a shower before I decided that perhaps we should go to A&E.  6 hours later I was heading home with a probable diagnosis of Transient Global Amnesia brought on by sudden change in temperature!  Barry was kept in over night to have a scan the next day just to make sure.  It was all clear. So this is why there is not a write up of the North-west inlet trip.  Barry can’t remember it and it wasn’t fair to ask Rae.  Barry still can’t remember the pitch even though he went up it twice so he will have to go again!  We’ll just have to keep him out of the water in future.      

Ogof Draenen

Posted by Jan on 2nd February 2013

 10 very enthusiastic cavers met up by the Lamb and Fox. As usual on a caving day the sky was clear and the sun shone radiantly. We split up into 2 groups, one group was heading off to Galeria Garimpeiros, while team 'Hartwright' was destined for Illtydians Chamber at the end of Gilwern Passage.


We thrutched, wriggled, squirmed and slid down the entrance shaft revelling in the delights of the short but chilling fall of water. At the pitch we met up with the other team,  our timing was impeccable and the pitch was rigged ready for our decent. At Cairn Chamber we signed the book and boulder hopped via Wonderbra to Gilwern Passage. I was the only one who had been in this part of the cave before, so we cruised along looking at the crystal and calcite formations, and the very symmetrical shape of the passage.
Just short of the end of Gilwern a loud crash was heard, a large rock had become displaced. Thankfully no serious injury was incurred to the caver in the group following us.
There is an awkward climb up into Illtydians chamber, however 2 Hartwrights shot up and explored the cavern. I waited at the bottom remembering how, many years ago a very large boulder had dropped from the roof as Barry and I explored the same chamber.
Returning down Gilwern we were reunited with some of the other group, after establishing all was well we pressed on back to Cairn junction, back up the entrance shaft, revelled in the icy cold water again and back to daylight and sunshine. A good trip.      

Ogof Draenen

Posted by Barry on 2nd February 2013

Meeting up for our trip into Ogof Draenen, it soon become apparent that we would be having two separate trips, so after a bit of a discussion, this was then organized. The first group got started and made our way quickly down to the first pitch where Darren and Reuben soon had it all rigged and were then able to life line us all down the ladder. Once at Carn Chamber the book was filled in and the first group disappeared on there trip. We held back a while and then got going, heading up towards Wonderbra and working our way forward towards the stream. We then got to the start of Gilwern, taking a steady wander looking at the many formations on route and taking a few photos.

At one of the obstacles on route, a rather large boulder decided that it was time to move, brushing the leg on one of our group, but everything was fine, the dislodged boulder is now secure and our member is still walking. Anyway once we got as far as Old Llltydians Chamber, we dropped down to the water level and climbed through the choke to gain access to Galeria Garimpeiros which is quite damp in places but has some lovely hanging straws with a waymarked route through, we then continued as far as the duck which would had taken us through to Breadfruit Boulievard, but this would wait for another day. From here we decided to turn around and start our return trip out, back to the choke and then back down Gilwern Passage. Once we had got tot Carn Chamber, the book told us that the other group had already exited the cave, so when we got to the pitch we knew that we could then un-rig the pitch and bring all the kit back out. As soon as we got back to the gate and outside, the temperature was still very cold and after just crawling through the entrance water, the walk back up the cars was getting very chilly. Then after getting changed and some food inside us we were able to chat with the other group and compare notes.
This made for yet another well turned out club trip, which we all enjoyed.        

Bixslade Mine

Posted by Jan on 3rd March 2013

Bixlade stone mine is situated at the head of a valley running North West from the Bixlade stone works by the Cannop Ponds.
We met up in the lay-by and wandered up along the old tramway that was constructed in 1812. Local wild boar had done a good job of revealing the stone sleepers. Stone was carried by a horse drawn tram until 1946, although Pennant Sandstone has been worked here for at least 500 years.


The first quarry we came to was a working quarry; we still managed to squeeze under the gate to take a closer look at some magnificent red cliffs. Kingsley spied an enticing hole about a third of the way up. We had a quick look deciding to bid a hasty exit after Barry and I realised we were standing on a thin false floor!!!!
After passing a few shafts surrounded by netting we found the Stone Mine. Following the path to the base of a huge cliff, we found ourselves at the bottom of an old quarry. Squeezing through the entrance we emerged in an enormous cavern. Barry hot-footed it to the lakes eager to set up his camera equipment, Pauline and I followed at a more leisurely pace. There followed a very pleasant hour or two wandering around large chambers, taking photos, Pauline posed and Barry flashed. A couple of times we had to climb up into other caverns, Barry always ready to give a leg up when needed. (So I won’t mention anything about forgetting to take his lens cap off).
After crawling back out into the cold light of day, and pretty cold it was too, we had our lunch, before going for a lovely walk through ancient woodlands in the Nagshead Plantation area.         

Ogof Ffynnon Ddu

Posted by Reuben on 7th April 2013

It was the morning after my birthday, my partner Katie was down and keen to go caving. Darren had got me a new head torch which I was keen to try out. Attending on the day were Barry, Pauline, Darren, Reuben and Kate. We checked the group in at the hut and got ready for the trip ahead.
After finally getting Darren up the hill (with help from his walking poles and bribes of Jaffa cakes) we entered the series through the top entrance and preceded into the cave, past Wedding Cake, Gnome Passage, down through Corkscrew and into Salubrious Passage. After stopping to admire Trident and Judge we made a quick detour to look at the formations at Swamp Creek.
After this we made our way to the abseil pitches with everyone mucking in and helping out on the SRT making a slick and safe descent. On the second pitch we re-adjusted the ropes to prevent Katie plummeting to her doom, despite Barry’s best efforts to finish her off (Goonies never say die!). After securing a decent anchor point, the next abseil was much slicker and we all safely made it to the bottom.
After much debate we decide to walk upstream for a shower in the top waterfall, the water was chilly but not too bad. We admired the waterfall then waded back downstream using the smooth rock to slide down. ‘Hey you guys!’ could be heard as we slid our way back to the abseil. Pauline said it was time to head back up, but I said ‘It’s our time down here....our time’. 

We started heading towards the climb to exit the stream. It took us a while to find the in-situ pegs and reflective points to start guiding us upwards, after the shorter members of the group finally made the moves between the pegs we finally made it up to the passage above, the Frattellis hot on our tail. After a series of ladders, we made our way through a narrow passage (very narrow in Darren’s opinion) then looked for a safe climb up, after a couple of mis-attempts by Barry and myself, the group climbed up the first level, the next level Darren and Kate found an easy route up whereas Barry, Pauline and I found a more emotional trickier route which required use of a belay from the top. With everyone at the top level it was a simple walk back to the entrance, all in all a good day, with plenty of ground covered and good use of SRT.

Cwmorthin

Posted by Paul on 4th May 2013

The May trip was to North Wales where we camped at Cae Adda on the edge of Llyn Trawsfynydd.  Several of us arrived on a windy Friday evening and tried to find a spot where the tents would not get blown away.   I was glad I had decided to sleep in the Land Rover because it does not need tent pegs!  We had a view over the lake but it was rather sombre due to reflecting a grey sky. 
I soon discovered a problem with my cooking kit.  I had packed a small gas cylinder and the gas burner would not connect to it due to a different thread.  Oh dear, thought I - cold food this weekend.  But the campsite has a kitchen with a microwave, a toaster and a kettle and as you know, you can cook anything in a microwave!  Beef stew, eggs and bacon, salad, bread and tinned fruit.  What a feast!  However, the others may have noticed that I had to make rather a lot of journeys from vehicle to kitchen and back.

 
 


 The next day we were due to meet our guide, at a small parking area just North of Blaenau Ffestiniog.  Our aim was to visit Cwmorthin mine in the valley above us.  By now, Jan, Barry, Pauline, Allen, Linda, Paul and our guide Tony Wilson had arrived although it took a few minutes for us to realise that this Adonis was our guide.  We soon set off up the hill and arrived at the gated entrance with its combination lock.  Our guide and Allen were very knowledgeable and were able to tell us the purpose of many mining features in the valley. 
The entrance to the mine is wide and high enough to walk in.  We were soon looking round a large chamber accompanied by much flashing from all angles.  There is a workshop area with many iron tools and artefacts scattered around.  We soon began to descend through large cavities where the walls were hidden in darkness.  The rock strata descends at 70 degrees so some of the chambers are very steep.  However, none of this was difficult so we all made good progress down to the lower levels.  Here, we were surprised to find two ‘old timers’ sitting having their lunch in a large chamber with an electric light hanging from the gloom above!  However, we soon found that they were visiting as we were.
 In the lower levels we encountered water – but not deep.  We could wade through it and it was mostly no more than knee depth except of course on Pauline (Dipstick) where it was waist deep! There were old tram cars that appeared to be floating on the water which caused much amusement when several people sat in them as though they were rowing across a lake.  
Near the remains of a crane, we started to climb out.  This was most spectacular as we gained height through an immense chamber.  We crossed the remains of a wooden bridge high up above the crane and were all pleased that we could clip onto a modern steel cable.  The final part was to ascend many steps up the steep side of large chamber.  After a spectacular climb of many ‘fathoms’, this brought us out near the entrance and back to daylight. 
Denise joined us on the camp site and then the next day we all returned to the valley and further explored other areas of mining activity.  Kingsley joined us for this scramble and Allen and Linda went off to join up with another group.  As we climbed the sides of the valley we entered the mist and much colder weather.  In amongst the old slate buildings and grey rocks it would easily be possible to lose orientation – or fall into the abyss at the edge of a path.  But after walking some distance along a misty tramway built into the side of the mountain we found the old incline that swooped downwards and would have carried slate to be worked in the buildings far below. This was a spectacular area to visit and we returned home having learned a lot about mining in those days and the conditions that the men would have endured. 

 Many thanks to those who organised the weekend. Paul Hartwright  

Little Neath River Cave

Posted by Pauline on 1st June 2013

With the fine weather that we have had over the past week the river levels were not a problem for access into Little Neath.  We all arrived in good time on this fine sunny morning.  Once we knew just how many of us were caving, we popped around to the farm to pay our access fees.  We got kitted up and walked over to the cave entrance. Paul and Kingsley had decided to go for an exploratory walk on the surface so we said our goodbyes and they watched us disappear into the gloom.

 
 


Even though river levels were low there was still a good flow of water coming into the cave with us, making the final manoeuvre into the cave rather damp i.e. requiring submersion up to chest level. Once we were all in, we then started our trip heading towards the sump between Bridge and Little Neath.  We followed the water through and came across some rather nice crystallized pools.  Once at the sump, we tried to convince Pauline to take a closer look, but she was not that enthusiastic. From here we retraced our route to the food dump before heading into the Canal. This seemed to be a lot longer than I remembered. Next we continued with the flow of the water heading downwards over many obstacles until we again reached another sump.  Again we retraced our route, stopping off briefly to look at the entrance to the crawls that would have taken us into Genesis Gallery and the Old World Series.  A group decision was taken to leave this for another trip so we continued back up to the end of the Canal. We’d had just warmed up so we stayed out of the water and turned right to do the Canal By-pass.  We did a bit of exploring around the North East Inlet Series (not all of it intentional but we did find some lovely gour pools) before returning back to the by-pass. Once we had regained the main passage we turned right again to work our way back up towards the wet inlet series and eventually back out into lovely warm sunshine. It was quite a bizarre feeling the water get warmer and warmer as we made out way out of the entrance passage.  Just as we got back to the vehicles Paul and Kingsley turned. Excellent timing as Paul had the keys for our van. I took Simon for quick trip into Bridge Cave to see the sump from the other side whilst the others were getting changed.      

Llygad Llwchwr

Posted by Allen on 7th July 2013

Paul, Barry, Pauline, Kingsley Pete and Allen met at the usual place, kitted up and set off to the entrance over the field, it was decided to take a look at a dig in one of the shake holes on the way , Kingsley hadn't intended on going  underground  so took the walk anyway, once at the shake hole everyone except Kingsley and I descended,  this was only meant to go a very short way so I didn't go underground,  well, ten minutes turned into twenty, then forty, the longer I left it the more I regretted not going!

 
 


Eventually after about an hour, out popped  the sensible people who regaled us with stories of wonderful cave passage and fantastic formations, Kingsley returned to his car, got changed  and we went underground  led by Pauline who kindly offered to show us the way  so we could benefit by her experience, thanks Pauline, this is only a short cave however the formations are fantastic, it has the feel of Llygad Llwchwr ( which it would do ) and was a  very worthwhile trip.
On gaining the surface Kingsley  joined the others who had waited for us  for the trip into Llygad Llwchwr, I opted out  and went back to my car, changed , had a cup of tea and enjoyed the beautiful sunshine before returning home.
All in all a great day, I recommend a trip into the cave in the shake hole, the name escapes me.     

Ogof Ffynnon Ddu

Posted by Barry on 3rd August 2013

Todays trip was split into two groups, as both groups had different abilities. The first group had a good bimble around the top entrance series visting the Mini Columns etc and taking in some Spanish lessons on route. The other group took a extended version of the regular trip to Trident and Judge, also visting the pitch where we recently did the pull through trip down the Nave and into the Main Streamway. Anyway back to Salubrious where we turned left and headed towards the Crossroads, Selenite Tunnel and Shatter Pillar. From here re entered Cross Rift where we could quite easily hear the thunder of the Main Streamway below, again we turned left and continued until we got to the top of the climb down into Maypole Inlet, from here we decended with the aid of a rope which we had dropped down, as this makes it easier to locate the climb back up on our return. We then followed the Inlet all the way down to the Main Streamway which was flowing well. We then retraced our steps and climbed back up, next stop was The Crossrads again completing our bit of a round trip, from here we just retraced our steps back up Salubrious and eventually back out to daylight, and met up with the other group back at the vehicles, another very enjoyable trip by both groups.

Ogof Ffynnon Ddu

Posted by ******** on 1st September 2013

A small group just had a trip around the top entrance of Ogof Ffynnon Ddu today.

Ogof Ffynnon Ddu

Posted by Barry on 5th October 2013

          Today’s trip was a nice bimble around OFD2 to show a couple of new people the joys of caving. So with the trip ticket filled in, we headed up the hillside to the OFD2 entrance in lovely sunshine. Once inside, we needed to turn our lights off and sit in the dark for a while to let our eyes adjust to the darkness. With our eyes now adjusted it was now possible to see where we were going, so we started moving. At the first main junction we turned left and headed into the Brickyard where we managed to catch up with another group, so instead of waiting we took the lower oxbow and managed to get in front of them. At the start of Gnome Passage we then turned left again and passed the Wedding Cake and worked our way down into Salubrius Passage which we followed downstream. Our next stop was The Trident and Judge, before moving on again towards Swamp Creek where we visted the top of the pitch which would had taken us down The Nave. From here we retraced our steps until we got back into Salubrius Passage where we then continued downstream, once at The Crossroads, we took the right had fork leading us towards Selenite Passage and onto Shatter Pillar, quite a bit of time was spent here looking at the various formations. From here we then got Alistair and Bethanie to lead us all back out (which they done very well between them) with only a bit of confusion at a couple of junctions, but they did manage to work it out between them. On the way out we met quite a few groups on the way in, doing different trips.
This proved to be a very enjoyable trip, for us, Alistair and Bethanie. We were underground for about four hours which was probably about right for a first trip into a real cave. Plus it was nice to be greeted by sunshine upon exiting the cave.

Ogof Draenen

Posted by barry on 3rd November 2013

Todays trip had been planned to be a longest trip to somewhere like Big Country or the Snowball Series, but with a few people dropping out at short notice we were only left with Rai and Barry. So a more realistic safer trip was rearranged considering there were only the two of us, after consulting the survey we came up with a trip up Gilwern Passage. It was then time to get kitted up and rearrange some of our kit with our new destination (losing the cows tails), although a bit chilly, at least it was not raining as well. Anyway we then headed down towards the entrance, once at the gate, Barry had a few problems getting the key inserted into the lock, but then Rai had a go and managed to get the lock open, so the trip was on.


The stream was running well in the entrance series, making for a quick descent down the slot so stop getting too wet, the water was also running well, down through the scaffold pitches and at Spare Rib. We were then soon at the first pitch where we set up a ladder and life line for our return trip, as we abseiled down. At Carn Junction, we filled in the log book and then headed up to Beer Challenge and then into the streamway before starting our trip down Gilwern Passage. Gilwern is a nice big open passage with plenty of pretty sections plus the odd obstacle to overcome, we continued all the way up to St Illtydians Chamber, from here we climbed up through the choke into Galeria Garimpeiros and Forever Changed where you are able to walk through the strawed area following the marked route, at the next junction we turned left following the stream until we got as far as the duck which would had led us into Breadfruit Boulevard, (but we would save this for another day). From here we turned around and made our way back, back at Cairn Chamber we marked ourselves as out in the book and then started our return trip back up through the entrance series, getting quite damp on route. Once back out into daylight, there was a good chill in the air, which really made itself present considering we had just climbed and crawled through lots of water. Anyway a good trip was had by both of us, but it was good to have that heater on in the car on the way home.