Llgad Llwchwr

Posted by Tim on 5th October 2014

 We all arrived on time at about 10.30 and got suited up before making our way to the entrance to Llygad Llwchwr 2. This is located at bottom of a shake hole covered with corrugated iron, we signed the book before entering, seven of us went down with Kingsley electing to stay on the surface with his dog. The entrance was apparently dug in 2010 from the surface by Tony Donovan following the caves discovery by Martyn Farr in 2002 who entered through a sump from Llygad Llwchwr. Once we had got down the shake hole it opened up into a number of chambers with some great features of stalagmites and stalactites. It was good to see that tape has been used as a no go zone in an effort to preserve the cave. There was a bit of a scramble up to a higher point in the cave where care had to be taken not to dislodge rocks on those coming up behind.

At the top we could look though a hole in the floor into a chamber below. Unfortunately when Rae
took a hand hold it gave way allowing her to take the two second tour into the chamber below. Luckily apart from some bruising she was not badly hurt but it was a stark reminder that if it can happen to someone with lots of experience who does this professionally it can happen to anyone. The cave was mostly dry, which I was most grateful for when it came to a tight squeeze at the bottom of the cave floor. I have since seen film on youtube that shows this can fill with water and is known as ‘the duck’. We all made our way back up to the entrance and a short walk to Llygad Llwchwr which means the Eye of the Loughor where there is a large resurgence of water. The entrance to this cave is about eight feet from the ground through which we entered head first. This cave is much wetter and a lot of the rock is worn
smooth by water and people. There are four large chambers in this cave reached by passages of differing size. The river that flows though the system was low compared to normal but still deep enough for people to be out of their depth in places. Some were brave enough to get
wet, myself and others who will remain nameless were not. We all exited the cave with as much grace as possible and compared to
some on youtube (press here if you want a laugh) I think we did a pretty good job. My thanks to Pauline for the loan of kit and everyone who made this caving trip so memorable. Many thanks all.

 

Peak District Caving

Posted by Pauline on 3rd September 2014

Monday 1st September - P8. After some hesitation due to light rain we sorted out ropes and equipment for the two pitches andloaded
everything into the vehicles. Once we were kitted up and fees were paid to the farmer we followed the reflective triangles on fence posts across the fields to get to the entrance. This was located in a sink hole below a small cliff where a stream flowed straight down the hole ….. it was going to be wet! Hoods up, harnesses on – one by one we entered and climbed down the 3m shaft. It was almost possible to stay out of the water. We were then into Cascade Chamber. We followed the stream along the left-hand passage until we came to another 2m climb down a cascade, Idiots Leap. We descended and continued to the First Pitch along a lovely high meandering passage. Rae and Vaisey set up the ropes for the pitch including a re-belay onto a ledge that helped keep out of the water. Once we were all down he continued the rope along the ledge to make a traverse line which was very useful on the way out. We continued following the stream, again through narrow meandering passage, which took us down series of cascades to the second pitch. Once we had descended this we continued down until we found ourselves in a fairly large chamber.

This was Mud Hall. We took a passage on the right, climbing under (or over) a boulder and somehow managed to work our way, via a slippery climb up, into Stalagmite Grotto. There we decided it was time to turn round and make our way out. After getting up the Second Pitch, Barry and Pauline continued on to the First Pitch while the others
de-rigged as Barry was feeling a bit cold – He was the only one not in a plastic suit! Unfortunately we arrived at the First Pitch to find a group of 8 descending. We climbed up onto the ledge where Vaisey had rigged the traverse line and sat watching them all take the direct route down, through the water. Worse still, once they were all down and had disappeared off on the higher level route another group appeared and set up another rope. Thankfully there were only two of them. By then Vaisey and Rae had appeared and we started heading out. The short climb out didn’t seem so wet on the way out. Once outside Barry started to warm up. We were met by a trio clad in boiler suits, hired lights and carrying a dodgy ladder and daisy-chained rope. Fingers crossed that they make it round!

Tuesday 2nd September - Giants Hole. Vaisey had a rest day so it was Barry and his Harem that entered Giants Hole (Christine had joined us). The entrance series is quite easy and well used by groups so Rae took us on a guided tour before we continued into the depths. The fossils were really clear here - sections of large crinoids thickly populate the rock and have earned the name of Derbyshire nuts and bolts. The ‘rest of the cave’ is accessed by a 7m pitch into Garlands Pot. This is an impressive, almost circular hole which has penetrated through evenly spaced layers of rock. We had chatted with another group in the car park as we got changed, joking that we may need to check their guide book to find the Upper series. They had passed us as we explored the entrance series but we caught up with them again here. The nature of the cave changed abruptly as we entered the Crabwalk. It was so narrow you had to walk sideways and there was no chance of passing. This meandered through the rock in a high vadose canyon for ages. We caught up with the other group at the Vice - a particularly tight and awkward bend, especially for larger cavers. Once through we continued down the passage
which was now slightly wider. After descending several cascades the passage widened into Great Relief Passage. We followed this to a small chamber where the other group were eating. Well it was the Eating House after all! After a couple of false starts it was now was the
time to check their guide book! Cath suddenly noticed a knotted rope and climbed up with a bit of help and explored up the passage
until she was fairly sure it was the right way. Eventually we were all up and ascending a boulder filled rift with a couple of interesting climbs. Luckily Rae and Cath made the right choices at junctions and we ended up at the Giants Windpipe.

As we were psyching ourselves up for the wet bit and having something to eat the other group caught us up and we ushered them in. Hee, hee! Perhaps they would soak up some of the water. As we waited there didn’t seem to be any complaints. Perhaps it was dry…. Then there was a muffled gasp - they had found the water! Oh, well, here we go and we crawled in. It was relatively dry but just when you thought you had got away with it, there was no choice but to lie in the water. We continued, mostly on hands and knees until we caught up with the other group again. Rae had just mentioned that she thought there was a ‘rather hairy traverse coming up’ and sure enough there was a narrow rift in the floor which didn’t appear to have any foot hold, and definitely no hand holds. It was basically a case of think big and wedge elbows, knees
or bum against any protrusion as your feet sought any ledge of a few centimetres. Plastic suits were not an advantage here. The other group were hesitating but seemed happy to follow us We were in the Crab Walk again and decided to make a hasty exit to give the others space to get down. All of a sudden we popped out into Garlands Pot. Here we met our boiler suit clad trio from the previous day who were just descending a ladder into the pot. They offered the use of the ladder to aid our exit which was very kind but Rae thought it prudent to do up the krabs at the top before we came up! We were just bringing up the last person when our shadows appeared. We quickly de-rigged and got out of their way, making our way to the surface.

Wednesday 3rd September - Streaks Cavern. Barry and Pauline had to leave by two if they were to make their next destination in time so we chose a relatively short and local cave to the hut. It definitely wasn’t easy! It was just a short drive up the road to a lay-by where we kitted up with vehicles rushing by. We crossed the road and headed for the lower entrance to put a rope down to aid our exit. Then we headed steeply up hill, clambering over fallen trees, until we found a cliff. At the base of the cliff was a small hole and a tree growing outside. We knew there was a pitch near the entrance so we tied one end of the rope to the tree and Vaisey headed in to rig it. Barry followed him to take pictures, while the rest of us sat outside. After a while Barry called back for Rae to come forward to sort out the rigging because the rope was too short. Vaisey was on the rope but no where near the bottom. The rope was untied from the tree.
Eventually the rope was sorted and Vaisey made it to the ground, shortly followed by the rest of us. However by the time Pauline got
down, Vaisey was climbing back up in the narrower part of the rift. He then proceeded to traverse over the top back to the rope and
changed the set up so that we could pull it down after he abseiled down again. Unfortunately the rope jammed and we had to leave it
there anyway. From the bottom of the pitch we descended a boulder slope in the continuation of the rift. The way on was down a narrow shaft where there didn’t appear to be any foot holds (Barry assured me that ledges appeared as you got to them!) then under the boulders that you had been sat on held up by some very dodgy bits of timber. We all gritted our teeth as we slithered through on our backs as fast as we could, feet first, being very careful not to touch anything on the left. Thankfully the passage soon opened up to allow us to turn round and crawl on hands and knees to the streamway.

A very tight squeeze to the right nearly had Christine caught but with persistent wriggling she was eventually able to push herself through. Then we came to another boulder choke. Vaisey took a dry route and got himself wedged. As the rest of us were lying in the stream he gallantly let us all struggle past him in the water, ducking an ear each, before he reversed and followed our route. For a while we were able to relax a bit in larger passage before were crawling in the stream again. Much of this was on our bellies. We passed a couple of inlet and Rae announced that we were at the Donkey Dongs. We soon found ourselves lying in another stream. This was followed by an awkward squeeze upwards into a sandy passage. This was Route 66 and can take large volumes of water. Eventually we emerged into an area where there was evidence of mining. Crawling now became painful as there were angular stones on the floor. The passage became increasingly small and filled with gnats. The last section was a particularly awkward, body sized tube, with more angular stones. Lying on your back so that you could bend the right way to emerge into the Oil Drum Shaft, these stones dug in. The climb up the shaft to exit was relatively easy and we didn’t need the rope. We emerged covered in mud and walked back to the cars. Vaisey went to the Top Entrance to retrieve the rope but soon caught us up. Outer suits were stripped off and washed in the convenient stream by the lay-by. A very enjoyable trip but quite sporting. There were a lot of challenging obstacles to overcome for
such a short cave.

 

Cwmystwyth Mines

Posted by Barry on 2nd August 2014

With the weather forecast not sounding very promising for today and driving up through quite a few storms, we were so surprised to get here and find the sun was out and plenty of warmth in the air. Anyway today's team was Barry, Kingsley, Rae, Christine plus Margaret popped up to have a wander around whilst we were underground. So we first wondered down to Pugh's Adit to look at the settling tray
that has now been installed to try and hold back some of the pollution from entering the river. We then returned to our vehicles and got changed. From here we climbed up and traversed over towards the Level Fawr entrance. It was good to see the now sensible gating arrangement which will keep animals out whilst still allowing easy access. Once through the tube, we were straight into the water and it was not long before it was over our wellingtons. At the first chamber, which houses the old truck, we were able to empty our boots before
continuing in slightly drier conditions. Going through the second tube, Kingsley pointed out that this area (normally dry) was now full of water, 6in deep. We then turned left and headed towards the incline chute. Here we left Rae to rig the rope while the rest of us looked around this area. Once rigged Barry was first to go down (as someone had to see if the rope was long enough). The descent was a lot further than I could remember, and the rope did not reach the bottom, but luckily enough the last 10 ft was free climbable. Kingsley stayied up on Level Fawr while Barry, Rae and Christine explored Kingside Adit. This is quite extensive and had some fine formations. At one point we could see down through a hole into a very large water filled chamber which we managed to light up with Barry's super light. Once explored, it was then time to ascend back up the incline, which we found easier to do with a re-belay half way up. Once we were all back up into Level Fawr, Kingsley worked his way back out to the sunshine, while Barry, Rae and Christine ascended up the fixed ladder (well, fixed where it touched lol). At the top it was nice to see that someone had fixed a transverse line over the single plank bridge. Later we popped out into a very large chamber. It looked like a big drop down, but it was possible to traverse carefully to our right before descending a very unstable scree slope and eventually popping out through a chute opening. From here we were able to follow the tram tracks over a
deep void and back into the entrance adit where daylight could then be seen. Once outside the heat of the day really hit us nicely.
From here Barry, Rae and Christine headed towards Taylors Shaft, where we entered via the Lower Adit. We continued towards the shaft where we emerged by one of the shaft windows and it was nice to see the daylight shining downwards. We then retraced our steps back to where a fix hand line was in place to lower ourselves down to the lower level which we all did. Turning left at the bottom we headed for
the base of Taylors shaft where it was now possible look straight up at the sky with water falling in steadily making it all look very impressive. While down at this level we explored to all the ends plus it was also noticed how drafty it was down here (no chance of bad air, this was also the same when we were down in Kingside earlier). So we then ascended back up and back out into the sunshine. Next on our list was to be Alderson's Adit, where we had arranged to meet up with Kingsley. We ascended the scree to get up onto one of the many horizontal paths around these various adits and turned right until we meet up with a stream. From here we crossed the stream and headed up the mountain to where we could see Kingsley and Ben awaiting us.

Once all together again we entered Alderson's Adit which had a good flow of water exiting, This we followed the water for some distance until we came to the source. This was a full flow coming down through the roof and timbers and made for a very refreshing challenge getting too the other side and back. It was also nice to see that Ben made it in this far, but was not so keen to follow us through this waterfall. Back outside, Barry lost his footing whilst trying to cross this very fast flowing stream and managed to lose contact with his flashgun (this was inside a clear bag which gave it buoyancy and it disappeared downstream). After exploring the upper section of this fast flowing stream, we decided that it must be further down where the stream levels out a bit, so we headed down. This was when the sky went very dark with some very sudden loud cracks of thunder. This was followed by hailstones and heavy rain. Kingsley managed to spot my flashgun bobbing around in the stream. Once retrieved we made our way back around the track towards the vehicles The storm then passed by and the warmth of the day returned. A very enjoyable day was had by all, and there is still a lot here which we have not explored so I'm sure that a return trip will be organised again.

 

Dan yr Ogof

Posted by Barry on5th July 2014

 Today's trip was set as Pant Mawr Pot, but it seemed that lots of members had something else on today and could not make it. So with only Pauline and myself available, we thought that we would give Dan yr Ogof a go, considering the weather had been so settled over the last few weeks, plus we only had a few light showers on Friday evening, the lakes would be nice and low making for a easy trip. So we arrived at Dan yr Ogof and got kitted up, car park very busy (Keeping Ashford happy). As we walked up to the showcave entrance we looked down at the emerging river which seemed to be running quite brown, anyway we continued through to where we leave the showcave behind, walking along the raised walkway the water was up to the first bar. Once at the barrier we hid our keys and cards etc, then we
were straight into the first lake and we could hear the noise in the distance of the waterfalls, as we continued hugging the left hand wall the water was getting deeper and as soon as we got around the corner we could then see that the water levels were very high as we were rubbing our helmets on the roof with the water lapping just under our chin. It was at this point that we made a decision that the round trip would be off as we were not too sure at this time if the water was still rising or falling, but we once through this section and having more space above our heads we decided to push on.

At the waterfall of lake three, we sat down on the side and it was a real earey feeling, seeing the calm waters of the lake in front and all this brown water flowing straight over the waterfall missing all the boulders, as we crossed this waterfall we could really feel the force of the water as you lifted your foot and the flow tried to take it away. Once over we hugged the right hand wall until the exit point. We were now out of the water, I then put a hand fill of sand near the current water level, as we had decided to at least do something small here before exiting, so we climbed up into the dry area and then headed up to Wigmore Hall to look at all the fine formations, as this is somewhere we tend to bypass when doing the round trip, we probably spent around 20 minutes here before turning around and making our way back to the lakes. At lake three my sand marker was still in place, although thinking about it, i'm not too sure that the water levels would rise much here anyway as the water would just keep flowing over the waterfall, if the water level was still rising the problem would be down in the final lake where it can't all escape, but build up giving us less airspace. So we continued back out with Barry trying to capture some photos, just to show what the conditions were like down here, as it happened when we got to the final lake, we could see that the water level had dropped about 1 inch, so maybe we could had been OK to do the round trip, but to be honest I feel that we both made the correct decision in coming out, knowing that this cave will be here for another day.
Back in the showcave, Pauline seemed to had made friends with a little lad who was very interested in what we were wearing and loved it when Pauline put her helmet on him with the lights. Outside the bright sunshine was well received warming us up from that very cold water, but the sky was still full of dark rain clouds.

 

Ogof Ffynnon Ddu 2

Posted by Pauline on1st June 2014

 As there were only three of us able to go caving today, we decided to leave Dan yr Ogof for another day and try to solve the puzzle of February’s visit when Timo’s Table was elusive. Barry was sure he knew where we had gone wrong before and Paul had not been there.
We made our way through the entrance series, reminding ourselves of an alternative route to the Wedding Cake. Turning left at the top of Gnome Passage, we slithered down the corkscrew and continued down to Salubrious. The way on to Arete Chamber was up a short climb on the other side of Salubrious. However Paul had never turned right and followed Salubrious up stream. So we headed that way before following some narrow passages which we had followed last time. These looped round to rejoin the direct passage from Salubrious providing we took the second right not the first right like last time. We followed this along a meandering canyon passage, then after a clamber up, over boulders, we emerged into Arete Chamber.

We continued along the passage to the end. Here the survey only showed one small passage on the right. On the ground there were two. We decided to take the last one which turned out to be correct. After a left, swiftly followed by a right we were heading towards Timo’s Table. A few more twists and turns and we were there. After the obligatory photos we continued. At the end of the passage containing Timo’s Table we turned right into a wider passage. At the end of this we found ourselves on a ledge about one metre above the sandy floor. Once we found our way down and walked a few more steps I suddenly realised that we had been here before! In February. We were in one of the larger passages in the Nant Bran Series. We had looked up this passage last time but we had looked under the ledge not above. Now the mystery had been solved we continued on to Poached Egg and Straw Chamber. At Straw Chamber we admired the formation, then went to the end of the lower passage and looked into Bhowani Junction. Later we explored around that area looking down into the chamber from the other side and then finding ourselves at the bottom of it. We then retraced our route back to Poached Egg and then decided to show Paul the route we came in February.

 

Swildons

Posted by Christine on4th May2014

 Day two of the club trip in the Mendips and we were off to Swildon's Hole. One member down (unfortunately Darren had to pull out) the rest of us, Pauline, Barry, Pete and Christine, made our way to the cave and after a short walk in the sunshine we made it to entrance. After attempting his party trick of fitting in the pipe at the entrance and realising he may not be as small as he used to be, Pete led us inside. After just a few seconds it was clear it was going to be a wet trip! We made our way down through the entrance series and down the stream way, negotiating the many small waterfalls, until we reached the bottom of the old 40ft pot. From here we continued to the top of the 20ft pitch and descended with the help of a ladder and onto the double pots further downstream which were climbed successfully with no dips into the pools. We then made the decision to follow Barnes' loop rather than follow the stream way down the rift. This passage gave us lots of lovely formations to admire before rejoining the streamway and heading to Tratman's Temple. It was then on down the passage to Swildon's sump 1.

After a short break and some creative photography from Barry it was decided we would save the sump for another day and we headed back up the passage towards the main high-level passages. Whilst in the higher level we made our way through St Paul's series toward Shatter series. We continued on, avoiding the steep drop into shatter series, through many passages including the surprisingly dry mud sump, up and down some slippery slopes to our final destination, Blue Pencil Passage. After a short discussion on how you would tackle the tricky traverse of Blue Pencil we began to journey back to the entrance series, opting to take the wetter route up the streamway. A few climbs, slips and trips later we were back near the entrance. All we needed now was to find the daylight! Cave suits well rinsed, 4 happy and clean cavers emerged. Great end to the trip away.

 

GB

Posted by Darren on 3rd May 2014

 After a leisurely start to the day, we gather our things and head for the Mendips club hut to collect the key for the G.B. Cave. We are greeted by a work party, sprucing the club hut, then ushered into an awesome cave library, were we sign ourselves in and receive the key.
A short journey and we arrive at the horse farm, kit up and take a leisurely stroll through the Gruffy Field to the cave entrance, a little locked hut, with a ladder descending through the floor. We avoided the Devils Elbow and headed down to the Gorge. Pete pointed out a now blocked entrance by the 1968 floods. This has since opened up and then been re-blocked by the water board with a car. This for now has been effective, preventing and easy and accessible walk out. The Gorge is an impressive size and contains a natural bridge that spans the Gorge about 7ft above the cave floor. We head down the streamway and on to the Ladder Dig Extensions. Access to here involved
a cunning climb involving a zig zag, using both ends of a cave ladder to make the way up. Pete made this look easy, and set up a lifeline, to safely allow us to follow. The Ladder Dig Extensions, provided a sporty section of cave and a tight squeeze through a puddle. I headed through on my back with arms extended and safely pulled myself through. We headed through a boulder traverse and into the well decorated Bat Passage. After a short look around we headed back out and then attempted to find the Great Chamber. We ascended up through a boulder field, several times reaching the top and back tracking. I managed to find Disappointment Chamber, which was reasonably exciting as great chamber would be nearby! So we thought. We all ferreted around, but great chamber remained elusive on
this occasion.

We called it day and headed back towards the Main Chamber, through the ever shrinking muddy puddle. I made a fundamental error, heading through head first but arms to my side, not extended. I was wedged! Pete, fortunately behind, pushed my feet, whilst Pauline manipulated one of my arms to extended. She was too gentle and I requested she use a little force as it was not moving and I was fearing entrapment, with poor Pete struck behind me. The diet seemed ever more important. As Pauline freed my arm, Pete
pushed, I wriggled and I was free! We left the Ladder Dig Extensions, de-rigging and Pete coming down last, being lowered on the
ladder, again ingenious. We took a loop back through the Ox Bow Series and White Passage and headed over the natural bridge, passing some lovely curtains and stalactites en route. With time ebbing away, we headed back through the Gorge, Upper Grotto and back to the fixed ladder climb out. After a very enjoyable trip, we handed back the key to the still busy, work party. A big thanks to Pete for guiding us all safely.

 

Ogof Draenen, War of the Worlds

Posted by Pauline on 2nd February 2014

 A small group (Jan, Rae, Barry, Pauline) met up at the Lamb and Fox at 9am with the intention of entering Ogof Draenen and reaching the War of the Worlds Chamber. There was some debate about how long it would take so we erred on the side of caution with our call out (midnight!). We thought it would be nearer 10 hours. We were through the entrance series and into the Rift Chambers in good time. We stopped briefly for an drink before continuing on. Landmarks included Eliptic Pasasge, Big Beauty Junction and Gone with the Wind. Midwinter Chambers marked the start of the snow like crystals lying in hollows and crevices before we reached the melon-sized gypsum
snowball and the Washing Machine. Then we were into huge passage. The first was The Reactor shortly followed by War of the Worlds.
We were all feeling relatively ok so we had a good look at the pretties in Sendero Luminosa. There were the fine needle like crystals and
twisty helectites that defied gravity. We turned round and gazed in wonder as Barry’s mega-light illuminated War of the Worlds South, the 2nd largest chamber in the UK. Time was getting on so we decided to head out rather than exploring it to the end. We made good time on the way out and emerged into the dusk, 11 hours after we started. The full write up by Jan will appear in the Newsletter

 

Ogof Pasq and Foel Fawr

Posted by Pauline on 6th April 2014

 The scheduled trip for today was Ogof Dan-y-Lleuadd Wen. However as we drove up to Herberts Quarry visibility dropped to 50m. As Jan,
Barry and I waited for the others the wind blew and the rain lashed the car and we questioned our sanity. Why were we planning to walk 1½ hours across the moor on a day like this? We were going to get very wet! The others arrived, Rae and Christine from one direction and
Kingsley from the other, at exactly the same time. They parked either side of us so we communicated through half open windows deciding what to do. Should we get wet walking across the moor or get wet going from Ogof Pasq into Foel Fawr? (There was the canal in Pasq and Rae warned us that the connection would be very wet too.) We decided on the second option as we didn’t have to walk so far in the rain.
After a few more minutes psyching ourselves up, we got kitted up, removed unnecessary kit from the tackle bags and headed off into the fog. It was a little confusing locating the right level of the quarry for the Pasq entrance but we got there, climbed up the scree and boulders and entered into the dry, warm cave. Most of us had decided that waterproofs had been necessary to get to cave so these were removed and stuffed into bags as they would also be required at the other end. This process reminded Jan of the prolapsed ewe she had dealt with the day before. (I’ll say no more!) We set off, admiring the formations as we went. Water was running from the roof in several places and the floor had more puddles than I remember, especially in the wide section by a small passage on the left (Rabbit Run?). We decided to
check that the duck through to the canal was full of water, although we suspected we knew the answer. It was, so we continued over the top to the pitch. Rae wanted some rope practice so she rigged the pitch and Barry sat back and took pictures. There was an ominous splash when we sent the ladder down. “How deep WAS the canal?” As it turned out the water can’t get too high as it drains into the duck. Also the ladder was just short of the ground, so what had made the splash? Possibly the ‘in situ’ rope had been hooked up on a ledge and had been knocked down by the ladder into the water. Leaving the kit in place on the pitch Barry went first into the canal, making hishooting noises as the water crept up his legs.

For some reason Jan wanted to know how high it was on me (Dipstick). The deepest bit was just over my waist (hips on everyone else). Once we were all through it was up the short climb to a cross roads. Left was too small. Right led to another pool with some interesting formations ranging from pale slate grey to custard yellow. The way on was straight on, soon lowering to a flat out crawl. Passing various formations and ‘dehydrated gour pools’ we arrived at the connection. Barry, still at the front, called back “I don’t like the look of this!” Rae:- “Is it full of water then?” Barry:- “Yes!” Rae:- “I went through on my back, last time.” There was a pause when nothing happened then lots of sloshing noises as Barry tried to move some of the water out of the pool. There was a bit of scrabbling
around and more hooting noises as Barry negotiated the pools then it went quiet. Knowing how cold water can affect Barry there was a moment of concern before we heard “I’m through”. With that, we all followed him into Foel Fawr. Only a couple of bends later we were at the slab. Barry seemed to be having a bit of a problem getting through the squeeze. However once we had lined him up in the right direction he wriggled through ok and we all followed. The rest of the way through Foel Fawr was uneventful. Everyone negotiated the calcited section and the steep climbs down and back up easily. Once in sight of daylight we toyed with the idea of looking at the Shaky Series but soon realised that it would be handy having a rope. There was nothing for it but to make our way out into the driving rain again. We all huddled in the hollow for shelter while we put waterproofs back on ready to walk round to Ogof Pasq to retrieve the rope and ladder. Luckily the rain was behind us for the walk and the entrance was sheltered from the wind. Jan and Christine waited in the quarry while the rest of us de-rigged and returned with the kit. The rain seemed to have eased a bit as we walked back to the cars. We found Kingsley sheltering in his car – I don’t blame him!

 

Darren Cilau via Ogof Cnwc

Posted by Paul on 1st March 2014

I had thought I would never go into Darren Cilau again but the opening up of the new entrance through Price’s dig about 700 metres South East of the old entrance has given new opportunities. Our Club trip for March was scheduled to be Darren Cilau. It could have been in through the old entrance and out through the new but luckily for me it was in and out through Cnwc entrance. Four of us
were ready to go just after 11am. They were Barry and Pauline Hill, Rae Hardy and me (Paul Hartwright). Others who might have come thought it was a Sunday trip and were not free to go on this Saturday!
At the start the cave is quite small and frequently damp. Flat out crawling is necessary and it is difficult to avoid the puddles. There is much evidence of the widening of the passage and the removal of boulders that had been necessary to engineer a negotiable route. Scaffolding has been used to assist in places such as where a pool has to be crossed in a restricted space and where it is necessary to climb down to a lower level. However, this only lasts for 120 metres and then we were in ‘Busman’s Holiday’. That is certainly much shorter than the 500 metre crawl through the old entrance. Busman’s holiday is a large chamber with an impressive calcite floor and many stalactites and helictites. The route has been marked out with tape to minimise damage and indicate the way ahead. The passage then becomes much larger and is characterized by large boulders obstructing the way. These have been caused by cavern breakdown. An  interesting chain ladder helped us to climb safely down to a lower level. Rae had some knowledge of what to expect because she had previously done the through trip from old to new entrance. So with that knowledge and the help of a map that Pauline had provided and my compass, we knew when we were in Antler Passage. We started to progress down Antler Passage where it is necessary to keep climbing under and over boulders the size of garden sheds. We had been moving for about two hours altogether and Rae knew that it would be at least 500 metres before we encountered any significant variation in the type of passage. That would take another hour and as I did not want too big a challenge we all agreed to turn back. Barry has previously tried to do the through trip in an anti-clockwise direction but did not get as far as the Antlers. We also failed to reach the Antlers from our clockwise direction so Barry will have to do yet another trip! .
Don’t imagine that this is an easy route into the further reaches of Darren. If you are trying to get to ‘Big Chamber nowhere near the Entrance’, it is debatable as to which route is less difficult. However, from my point of view this was a most enjoyable visit and gave us all an opportunity to learn about the alternative route.

Ogof Ffynnon Ddu

Posted by Rae on 2nd February 2014

 We set off on a pretty miserable walk up from Penwllyt and were all pretty glad to be in the warmth of the cave. We left the other party to head off on their own adventures and headed down to Salubrious. Once there, we headed up into Arete and back down into Salubrious, the first of several circles completed today! This problem with route finding started here and continued for the rest of the trip. On our second circle of Arete we took a different route and headed in the direction of Timos Table. After consulting the survey and having a really good explore of most of the Nyth Bran Series there was suddenly an exclamation from Barry that he'd “been here before!” and on closer inspection discovered that we'd ended up at Poached Egg (made slightly harder to recognise by the missing boulder on the climb down).

We then headed to Straw Chamber to enjoy the beautiful formations there before directing our attention back to the survey to decide how we got there, without visiting the places we wanted to on the way. We decided to retrace our steps to return to Salubrious rather than find a different route back (we will save that for another trip). Overall it was a fantastic trip with lots of pretty formations to see and lots of
route finding for real. Once we returned to the surface we were glad we'd been underground for the day as the weather was just as
miserable. There was time for a quick catch up with the other team before heading our separate ways.

Ogof Draenen

Posted by Barry on 4th January 2014

Traditionally our first trip of the year has been Craig y Ffynnon but a substantial amount of unstable rock is poised above the entrance to tumble at any time. We avoided it this year. Instead, we decided to visit Ogof Draenen and arranged meet up at the Lamb and Fox at 10.30am. Unfortunately Darren had a few early morning disasters, eventually arriving 20minutes later on his motorbike.
However with forward planning he was already half kitted up and was ready in no time. Barry, Ali and Christine went ahead to open the gate while Darren and Pauline followed after a few minutes. Barry didn’t have a problem with the gate this time so we were straight into the entrance series. We were very relieved to find there wasn’t an excessive amount of water in there and we didn’t get too wet going down the scaffolded sections and Spare Rib. Darren went ahead to set up the ropes for the pitch. This was Ali and Christine’s first time in Draenen so Barry talked them through some of the notable bits. Once down the pitch, it wasn’t long before we were at Cairn Junction were we filled in the book and turned right into Beer Challenge. Darren was keen to get to know the route so we gave him with the survey and Barry kept quiet.

Beer Challenge is the direct route to White Arch Passage. It is mostly hands and knees crawling with a few lower sections but it cuts out about half an hour of caving. It contrasts nicely with the tall canyon of White Arch Passage which wriggles its way eastwards. On reaching the White Arch, Ali misheard Barry and thought it was called the White Arse! Moving on, we climbed steadily over boulders through Lamb and Fox Chamber to find the beginning of Indiana Highway. The boulders seemed particularly greasy today. Indiana Highway involves traversing along ledges in a rift some metres above the bottom of the passage, which you can see between your legs as you step from side to side. Quite disconcerting the first time and only part of it is protected by a fixed line which you clip cowstails to. Keeping to the left, we worked our way thorough more boulders until we were able to climb up onto the mud banks and into Megadrive. Taking the second turning we entered Perseverance II. Ali and Darren needed perseverance to get to the end of this! Then it was only a short distance to the Rift Chambers where we stopped for a drink and snacks. Time was getting on so we decided to keep the Snowball Series for another day and started to make our way back. Again Darren was leading and didn’t miss any of the tricky turnings, which impressed Barry. However going up the entrance series is never nice with the water falling on your face. We made it out with the light fading and the temperature dropping. Darren had a cold ride back to Hereford!