Craig a Ffynnon

Posted by Barry on 3rd October 2015

Today's trip should had been in the Forest of Dean, but as we had not organised access and no one else seemed to be available for caving anyway, Pauline and myself decided to take a trip into Craig a Ffynnon. Anyway we parked up just above the limekilns got kitted up and made our way up to the entrance (which still looks rather unstable).  Once inside and with the gate locked we made our way in to the first chamber where we filled in the log book with our destination as North West Inlet. Continuing onwards we were soon climbing the fixed ladders and crawling along the low passage where we then reached the start of North West Inlet. To be honest we were hoping that the water levels would had dropped with all this dry weather we have had recently, but this was not to be. After my previous experience of this trip a few years ago, I entered the water slowing allowing my body to slowly adjust to the water temp before wading through, the water level was up to Paulines neck and it seemed to go on for a lot longer than I could remember. Once out of the water we continued onwards so that we did not get cold and soon started to warm up again. Just like the rest of Craig a Ffynnon this passage is very well decorated with fine formations and mud banks. At the far end we climbed up the bank to the remains of the railway, where the trucks were still in a serviceable condition.

Pauline then continued to the far reaches of the various digs in this area while I spent a bit of time taking photos. We then started our return trip, which was a bit slower as again I was playing around with photos. once we had made it back through the water, we started to feel cold, so we then continued onwards to get outside and warm ourselves up in the sun. Not a terribly long trip, but still very enjoyable. I also had the chance to try my new caving lamp out which I brought the previous weekend at Hidden Earth. I will be writing a review in our next Newsletter once I have caved more with it, but first impressions are very good.

Pant Mawr Pot

Posted by Pauline on 30th August 2015

Rae was keen to go into Pant Mawr Pot to practice setting up ladder and lifelines before booking her Level 2 Cave Leader assessment.  This found the Gilwern faction of Hereford Caving Club (Rae, Les, Nick and Pauline) marching across the moor to find the entrance.  The forecast had been for heavy showers but they managed to hold off until we got to the entrance.  Of course this is when you end up waiting around for the ropes to be set up and each person to descend. As Rae set up the ropes the rest of us got our harnesses on.  I took the ladder sack down to Rae  then I abseiled down on my Stop while Rae set up the lifeline for Les and Nick.  As Barry wasn’t with us I was in charge of the camera and managed to get some photos as they descended through the rain. Once we were all down and harnesses discarded we continued into the main passage.  Just before we lost the daylight Nick found a toad and Rae nearly trod on a small frog.  We considered a rescue but figured they would probably get squashed in transit.  I hope they find enough to eat.

Route finding is not a problem in here.  Generally just follow the water!  The only exceptions are the boulder chokes.  Chokes one and two were negotiated easily although we all took slightly different routes on the first one.  At Choke Three Nick dived into a hole on the right where as I went to the normal route up to the left.  While we waited in the Great Hall for him to emerge we could hear him scrabbling around and every so often mutter ‘no dead end’.  Eventually he did emerge in the Great Hall to join us.  We made a quick visit to the Chapel to admire the helectites and pure white straws before continuing down to the Fire Hydrant.  At this point we turned round and headed back out. Rae went up first and I prussicked out while she sorted out the ladder for Nick and Les.  Les came up without a hitch then Nick decided to try whilst carrying the rucksack.  Half way up he realised his error and another rope was sent down so he could take the bag off and we could haul it up out of his way.  Once we were all at the surface the equipment was stowed into the bags and we set off back to the cars.  Thankfully the rain had eased off again.


Posted by Jan on 2nd July 2015

A small, but perfectly formed group of us waited until the rain had eased before making our way up to the gate at Top Entrance OFD. We hadn’t reached the stile before the rain started again, together with flashes of lightning and crashes of thunder, it was quite unnerving and we were all glad to be in the confines of a nice safe cave. (I found out later that evening 2 people had been killed in the Beacons and 2 taken to hospital. OOooppps After our eyes had grown accustomed to the dark we headed for the Mini Columns. Unfortunately someone had felt the need to put filthy, muddy fingers over some of the Columns. WHY!!! In the absence of Barry I took my camera and tried a few experimental shots, and failed dismally. My group was well impressed by the Columns and keen to see what else OFD had to offer, we paused at Gnome Passage. I had with me a large hand held torch and was amazed at what else you could see with extra lighting. Passing the Wedding Cake we chatted to a group of Germans, before entering Chasm. In Chasm I pointed out where the mighty cave eating worm chews through solid rock????????? And tried again to take some pictures of the stals with mixed success. I then suggested to Phil that took the lead and showed us the way out. With only one incision we were soon out in the sunshine. A most enjoyable trip


Reservoir Hole

Posted by Pete on 27th June 2015

10:30 meet at the Wessex hut, cup of tea and a seat on a sofa, great start to any trip. Rae and Tim arrived in time for tea as well. A short drive saw the three of us and Andrew our leader changing in the by the reservoir, hence the name, followed buy a quick scramble to the small entrance. After a bit of a grovel we are in. Reservoir is basically a series of tall rifts mostly dug through boulder chokes, from the bottom upwards. It must have been a bit hairy!! An hour or so saw us at the top of Golgotha in Herberts Attic looking down a very big rift. A return to the bottom of Golgotha and at the top of Topples Aven we follow a crawl for 60m or so to two pitches 5m and 7m to emerge in to The Frozen Deep, the chamber with the largest floor plan in the UK. It also has avens in the roof that have been climbed to 100m above the chamber floor! We spend an hour wandering around the taped route looking at spectacular white formations eventually returning to our start point and the way out. A very interesting trip, not too long we were underground for about three hours. Thanks to Andrew Atkinson for making the trip happen and Rea and Tim.


Dan yr Ogof

Posted by Pauline on 6th June 2015

This was supposed to be Pant Mawr Pot but it seemed that everyone had something better to do leaving Barry and I had to go it alone. We had wanted to go into Dan yr Ogof again after our aborted trip last year due to high water levels, so we decided to try again. Barry wanted to take some photos and I wanted to remind myself of the route before next months club trip. For that reason I won’t go into too much detail about the route this time. This time the water levels were at a comfortable level but they had been high enough to sump between the lakes vey recently, probably the Monday before. There was a scum of foam covering the first lake and foam covered the roof where it had sumped, hanging like strands of glass-bead necklaces in places. Once we emerged from the lakes we began to tick off features on the round trip. Thankfully it all came back to us.

The only bit I couldn’t remember was the Camel. The Green Canal was as cold as usual and there were only a few buoyancy aids this end. I made the mistake of trying to float across on an inner tube forgetting that I would need to help Barry to get across. Where the passage widened a little so that I couldn’t reach the sides to push off, I had to get in the water and swim whilst hanging on to the tube and Barry. Eventually we got to the point where we could reach the floor and wade out. There were a few worms visible in Thixotrophic. Near the Washing Machine we met a party of four coming the other way. That meant that some of the buoyancy aids would get back to the other side of the Green Canal. Barry took photos at the Crystal Pool, Cloud Chamber, the water trough of the Long Crawl on the way out and then some in the lakes. We emerged, after four hours, to sunshine but a chilly wind.

Ogof Dan y Lleaud Wen

Posted by Barry on 10th May 2015

Meeting up at Herbert's quarry for 10.30am. Pauline, Barry, Jan and Paul got kitted up ready for our trek across the moor. Kingsley and Ben also joined us for our walk over. Weather was quite windy with a bit of dampness in the air, but it mainly stayed dry for us. We always seem to make the same mistake heading over in this direction by getting too high too soon and having to descend again, but it was not long before we were on the hillside looking for the entrance. I had located it but doubts were put in my mind when the others said it did not look right. So after a bit of an explore around the area, I decided to go down this entrance anyway, and was soon at the top of the first pitch. I then returned and called the others in. Once we were all at the top of the pitch, I rigged the ladder using the new bolts in the wall, along with a life line.

Everyone descended on the ladder and then at the end I abseiled in. We then free climbed the next descent with the aid of a fixed rope. From here we started to explore. The passages are quite large although there are not a lot of them. We first did a circuit and got back to where we started. Then we started to explore some of the side passages. One of these side passages led us to Canyon Passage which had some nice formations. Then as we continued we ascended up some slopes which brought us out into St Paul’s. This area just felt as if it was not far from the surface as one side passage from here had a good draught and felt cool. Plus there was lots of evidence of water entering with washed rocks nice and clean. From here we worked our way back to the main circuit, where on our right was aside passage which descended steeply into the lower series, I did enter this and started my descent but as no one else fancied following me, I made a return. We then continued back towards the bottom of the first pitch, looking at a few more holes in the floor on route. Back at the pitch, I put on my chest jammer and then climbed the ladder. Once at the top I was then able to lifeline Pauline up. She then then life-lined the others whilst I was able to get some photographs of Jan and Paul ascending on the ladder. We then all helped to de-rig and repack the tackle bags before making our way back out onto the surface. Just as Pauline was exiting the cave, Kingsley and Ben appeared, so timing was just about spot on, so we were now all able to walk back off the moor together. We also made a few stops to look at other various interesting holes. Although not a long caving trip, it was still very enjoyable with good company.

Agen Allwedd

Posted by Rae on 18th April 2015

On a lovely warm Saturday in April, Questioned by Sane people “What are you doing going Caving on a day like today?”, Barry, Pauline, Adam and myself set off on an extended underground adventure. Todays challenge = Aggy Inner Circle. This was a new trip for three of our party and Barry had previously done it some years earlier. When we arrived at the gate we were met by a couple of Chelsea SS guys who were heading to Western Avenue to survey. They shared some helpful pointers such as “stay to the right when entering Sand Caverns Passage and you wont miss the way on.” and off they went. We soaked up the last bit of sun and headed off. The start of the day was pretty easy going 30min to Barons chamber, 1hr 15 to the drinking station and just over 2 hours to Turkey pool. We had stayed surprisingly dry until this point as the main stream way was near enough empty. After some interesting traversing of Turkey pool, (Barry was adamant there were ledges under the surface) we were slightly wetter and the interesting, route finding started. We made our way to Hawkins horror, dedicated to our very own Kingsley, and then into Sand Caverns. We then turned right into Selenite needle passage and that definitely made for the prettiest part of the trip, a fantastically decorated passageway looking like it had been snowing with Selenite crystals everywhere. We finally popped out into Eastern Avenue. Now up until this point life had been pretty easy – which isn't our usual kind of trip, so how can we make this harder? Barry had the answer. Lets print the route choice off in a clockwise direction but then try and complete the route in an anti-clockwise direction! Much interesting route translation ensued but without too many wrong turns we arrived back at the ammo tins suggesting that we had successfully completed the circle.

The circle itself is very impressive with huge passageway. We took a slight detour from the route to look at Swiss Village – definitely worth it for the beautiful mud formations and having a giggle trying not to loose your wellies in the very squelchy passageway mud. The most impressive part of the Circle was definitely St Pauls dome, a circular shaped roof of vast proportions, and the most fun – probably trying to climb the scree slopes that most people would have slid down when doing the circuit clockwise, making it even more slippy. Having found the writing on the wall that stated “HCC 3.5.59” we said we should have completed this trip next month instead, I can't imagine what it would have felt like to be in that first team to find such a large unexplored section of cave. From the ammo tins we turned and made our way back, slightly slower than the way in with some tricky little climbs – as those that were on the Easter Saturday trip would remember. Other than that a very uneventful exit. We surfaced again just before 7 and took the walk back to the Cattle grid chatting about the next trip. Darren Cilau time machine we think......

Agen Allwedd

Posted by Adam on 4th April 2015

Agen Allwedd Pauline, Barry, Paul, Kingsley, Sam, Tim and Adam met at the cattle grid on the Beaufort Road from Llangattock at just before 1030 am. It was a dry but cloudy morning with a cold wind blowing so we all dressed up for the conditions. Not long after we got ready, Jan and others arrived for a walk along the tram road and further, which I'm led to believe was going to end with a pint or two in the pub. But we went caving instead!? We set off towards Agen Allwedd at a steady pace in the knowledge that the last part of the walk towards the entrance is a little steep, to say the least! The last part didn't disappoint and we hauled ourselves up to the gated entrance of Ogof Gam. Some of us almost peeled off to join Jan and the others as the jaunt up the slope had all but finished us off. We were sweating and puffing like a bunch of old cavers, some of whom were of course, wishing we had put shorts and t-shirts on instead of fleece undersuits and oversuits. The gate was unlocked and we all climbed through with a plan to head for Turkey Pool. Kingsley stayed outside and undertook an alternative trip into Eglwys Faen with some tourists who he met on the tram road and were interesting in knowing what it was like inside a cave. What better guide could they have found? Barry signed us into the book and we set off quickly passing the old entrance of Agen Allwedd at The Toolshed. We negotiated the tight rifts, some passing via a higher route and noting the vast numbers of Horseshoe bats in situ. There were one or two bats flying around the cave negotiating their way far more gracefully than us. We soon arrived at the first boulder choke and steadily made our way through the narrow, well worn boulders. After a few minutes we emerged into the spectacular Baron's Chamber, so it was a good opportunity to sit down and cool off whilst Barry took some photos. Several photos later we set off along Main Passage and after about 100m dropped down into the start of Main Stream Passage. There wasn't too much water flowing in Main Stream Passage so occasionally we waded through water that was just over the knees and crawled through low areas where there was plenty of room to keep out of the water. We negotiated a couple of small climbs where Barry installed a rope to assist us where required and steadily made our way towards the second boulder choke. We squeezed through the jumble of rocks and popped out the other side where we re-grouped. We then made our way along keyhole passage negotiating the slippery mud and rocks and being mindful of the deep black hole in the floor below. We all reached the small ‘café’ where we tried to order bacon rolls and a hot mug of tea but we had to make do with a cool, refreshing cup of water drunk from a well used plastic mug secured to the rock with a cord. Nevertheless it was a very welcome refreshment stop despite being a tad basic. A short while later we reached the junction with Turkey Passage, which was where Sam and Paul decided they would start their return journey out. Pauline, Barry, Tim and Adam continued into Turkey passage with our destination of Turkey Pool being about 800m away.

We observed many spectacular formations along the route, some resembling various parts of a turkey, believe it or not. We passed the junction with Cold Cellar and soon afterwards we reached Turkey Pool. We all waded around the corner to look along Turkey Pool with Barry describing how to negotiate the deep water by locating small ledges at either side under the water. Tim couldn't resist the challenge and started to make his way along the submerged ledges but once the cold water reached his more tender regions, he saw sense and rejoined the rest of us who were being far more reserved. At that point we did an about turn and headed back along Turkey passage, making good progress on our way back out. We occasionally paused to smile (well grimace) for the camera and continued back to Northwest Junction. We made our way up Main Stream Passage starting to think about needing a bit of an energy boost so when we reached the primitive cafe we all had another very welcome and refreshing drink of cool cave water and an energy boosting snack. Buoyed by the sudden boost of energy, well that’s what it said on the packet should happen, we carried on along Keyhole passage, negotiating the climbs and picking our way back through the second boulder choke. We continued along the Main Stream Passage and pulled ourselves up through the boulders and into the Main Passage on route back into Baron's Chamber. Luckily, Barry had the job of finding the always hidden entrance to the First Boulder Choke and without even one wrong turn we entered the choke and slithered back down to the other end. Had the route finding at that point been left to one or two of us in the party we would still probably have been there now looking for it. We exited the choke and made steady progress back along Main Passage, hauling ourselves through the narrow rifts. Some were on a higher route, others were more easily able to fit between the narrow walls and could take a lower route. Not too long after we located the book and Barry signed us out all present and correct. Paul and Sam had exited sometime before us so that was six in and six safely out. Once our eyes were able to adjust to the bright sunlight we could see that it was a very pleasant sunny day with blue skies above, so we had a very pleasant stroll back to the cars where we all regrouped and shared our various stories. It was, once again, a very enjoyable and successful club trip into a fantastic cave. Thanks to all those that were able to make it and thanks to Barry for some excellent photos.


Posted by Pauline on 7th February 2015

7 th February - Cwm Dwr A bright, sunny morning with a chilly wind blowing and snow on the distant hills found Rae, Les, Tim, Pauline and Barry changing in the car park at Penwyllt to go caving in Cwm Dwr. Kinglsey and Jan also made the journey to Penwyllt but they were heading for a walk with their dogs Ben and Elsa. A key was signed for and we hoped that our description of the concrete tube entrance wouldn’t put off Tim and Les as we headed for the gate. Going down is the easy bit! We gathered everyone together in the chamber at the bottom of the shaft before continuing to the stream. This was followed to SAS chamber. We then entered the low crawl of Dim Dwr (No Water). This was dry for some distance but just when it gets a bit smaller a stream enters the passage so you can’t avoid getting a bit damp. Luckily that doesn’t last for long and we were soon climbing up through boulders into the relative space of the Jama. We followed the Jama passage to the left and downwards until we met a stream crossing. Climbing up on the other side we continued to another stream after and interesting climb down. Turning left soon came to the boulder choke and this is where the route finding faltered. Barry went straight ahead, climbing up a boulder slope and then took a promising looking hole down to the left. It wasn’t long before the promise faded. Pauline retraced our first steps through the boulders and found another promising gap. Again this came to a sudden end about 6ft from Barry.

He could see her light! Extracting herself from the bottom with a little difficulty she returned back to the larger passage and eventually found the way on, low down on the right. However it still wasn’t straight forward as we came to a small chamber in the choke with several ways on. Barry took one route, suddenly finding himself behind us and back where he had been a few minutes earlier. Eventually we made it through the choke and arrived at the Big shacks. All went well for a while, following a sandy passage first right then left. However on our way to Main Passage we missed the route up and ended up descending to a lower level. It took us a little while to realise we had come down too far and relocate ourselves. So after a bit of exploration at that level to confirm where we actually were, we retraced our steps and Pauline found the short climb up. Once we got to the traverses we were back on track. These were negotiated with a little trepidation due to the narrow ledges for our feet. Conscious that time was running out we continued down Main Passage then turned left. We only went to the next junction to confirm that the passage turned sharply right and then curved round towards the Smithy. Once we were happy we turned round and made our way out with only a slight hesitation in the boulder choke. We were greeted by Jan and Kingsley who were sunning themselves on the grassy bank of the quarry.

Craig y Ffynnon

Posted by Barry on 4th January 2015

As it had been advised not to visit this cave for about 12 months, due to the unstable face above the gate, our annual January visit last year was missed. So it was nice to be able to put this trip back onto our trip list.
Anyway we all met up just above the Limn Kilns , as the Lay-by has now been blocked off with concrete bollards due to the Limn Kilns looking rather unstable. Today we had two groups, one going walking whilst the rest of us went caving, we all walked up to the cave entrance together. Where there is still a large amount of lose rock just in front of the gate which has obviously fell from above, but it all
looked reasonably stable now 'Not that I poked about with the roof '. So with the gate open, we said our goodbyes to the walking group and headed inside to the first chamber, here we left our keys etc in a bag and also filled in the log book, we also noticed that this cave seems to be getting a lot of use according to the log book. From here we started our way in following the stream until we got to the scaffold pitch with the two fixed ladders, as always the stream was flowing down this pitch bouncing off the ladders, then once we were at the top, we started our crawl up the streamway and out the other side. We stopped near the entrance to North West Inlet, where the airspace was very limited. So we continued up to the pitch, although I have been here before since it has been altered, I could not remember what it was like (but that is another trip report). So I climbed the fixed ladder and could see that we now had two fixed ropes in place, and some angled metal foot holds, so I managed to climb up life lining myself onto one of the fixed ropes. Once at the top, I was then able to use the Traxion and life line everyone else up. Next came the boulder choke, which was interesting at the start as the water was really pouring down the hole in the roof where we need to start, but we all got though at our own pace and popped out at the top. As it was Sam's first trip

I gave him some advice for the next obstacle which was the soft muddy bit (just keep moving and don't stop), but obviously Adam did not hear this and lost a welly. After this the cave starts to get very pretty, bigger and dryer, so it was now a more relaxed walk looking at all the fantastic formations on route, until we finally arrived at Hall of the Mountain King, where I was able to illuminate it up using my new caving torch. Before leaving here we explored the large dry passages to where the emergency dump is held.
Then it was time to turn around and make a steady trip back out, at the choke it is so much easier going back with gravity on your side,
then at the top of the pitch, I just set up the life line and everyone climbed down, and I finally abseiled down. We made good use of the streamway as we crawled though it, washing our kit off, so that we would be nice and clean as we exited the cave. Timings were spot on, as the walkers had only just got back to the cars about 15 minutes before us, so after getting changed and a quick chit-chat we then made our ways home. Another very enjoyable caving and walking trip.