Ogof Draenen – Sunday 20th March 2022

David MacDonald, Gareth Farr, Louise Lucas

By David MacDonald


We met up on the not so bleak Pwll-du, the sun was beaming and the parking area was packed! Lou struggled to find us, but she got there in the end.


Gareth, Lou and myself kitted up and walked to the entrance. The entrance series was great and surprisingly easy to navigate, and before we knew it we were at the climb. None of us had a problem with it, well once Gareth and I transformed into human steps Lou didn’t have a problem. We signed the logbook at Cairn Junction and headed right towards Wonderbra. Once through Wonderbra we got to the “mud bank” and thought the left here was the left onto White Arch Passage, and carried on down the streamway.


Once we realised our mistake we turned around and headed back towards Tea Junction. We made good time through White Arch Passage, after a quick snack break at Tea Junction, and found our way into Lamb and Fox Chamber easily. We refilled our drinks at the cascade and then had another snack break at the cairn to Indiana Highway. Lou was feeling quite tired after the detour down and back up the streamway. Once we were ready to go again we were quite cold and tense. I don’t think this helped our nerves for the traverse. We climbed up the cairn and turned the corner into Indiana Highway, the mud bank was a challenge in itself! Once in the beginning of the passage we were all struck with its beauty, not that it’s decorated with formations, just the beautiful organic flow of the phreatic passage is enough! We quickly passed the side passages and round the tight corners to the start of the traverse.


I was first and headed into it around the first awkward corner to where it straightens out. I heard Gareth call and he was saying Lou was unsure about carrying on. We had a quick chat and decided amongst us we should just head back. On the way back we had a quick look at the side passages close to the start of Indiana Highway, we saw the fossil in the roof of the one chamber and couldn’t work out if we saw a shark tooth in the roof where you climb in/out of the side passage. On the way out we had no problems whatsoever and had a look in some side passages. We signed out on the logbook and headed back to the climb. We all had no problems climbing and route finding, and quickly found ourselves being soaked again on the final stretch. We got out and it was still a really nice day, so changing wasn’t too bad. We warmed up with a cuppa and headed on our way.

Agen Allwedd – Sunday 30th January 2022

By Dai MacDonald

Today Gareth and I headed back to Aggy, with the dig at the closest point to Daren Cilau as our target. As usual we were late leaving, it’s always one or the other of us, and it was a cracking day, crisp but sunny. We parked at Whitewalls cottage and were amazed how quiet it was, so we wasted no time and kitted up. Gareth dropped his phone and smashed his screen, he’s a tad clumsy.

We got into the cave at roughly 12:20pm and made good steady progress through the entrance to Baron’s Chamber, but about 80m into the entrance Gareth dropped his drink bottle and split it, so had to leave it for us to collect on the way out. We headed off to the right at the first junction along Main Passage, faultless past Bastard Passage and Flood Passage, but we had to search around for a while to find the entrance to the Second Choke. Gareth heading to high, and myself to low, eventually Gareth found it and we were off again. We stopped a few times here and there for Gareth to have a drink from his filter, which we always carry with us just for times like this. In no time at all we found ourselves at North West Junction, and we were off into a section we didn’t know, Main Stream Passage. The description we had warned of how slippery it is and as we entered it Gareth and I jokingly said “This is the lethal bit now isn’t it?” And with that I was almost flat on my back in the streamway, a very good save! It was steady progress along Main Stream Passage, it was slippery, no more so than any other streamway we’d come along already though. We passed Maypole Dig, but didn’t spot Chocolate Passage. I really liked the way the passage was changing to more of a phreatic passage now as we headed through Wormcast Passage to Deep Water.

We got to Deep Water and instantly before the water was even over my feet I was sinking in the silt, like quick sand almost, and I must admit it unsettled me a little as we were just about to wade into Deep Water. I went in first, with the floor slowly sinking away from under me, plumes of silt turning the black opaque water brown. I gingerly put one foot in front of the other and felt my way through as Gareth started to follow me. Gareth called out to say he wasn’t to sure about carrying on, we’d both spotted the undercut on the sidewalls and had images of Porth Yr Ogof’s resurgence. I spotted the water lapping at a bank in the middle of the passage, so called to Gareth to say it levels out. We pushed on through, only reaching waist deep, but immediately were confronted with another section that appeared the same. We stuck to the left hand side, a skinny, sloping, soft silt bank that slowly disappeared into the black opaque water, the silt wasn’t even visible. Once again Gareth said he wasn’t sure if he was comfortable with carrying on, but I said I’d push forward just to see how it felt underfoot. I got to just above my belt deep, the bank almost completely disappearing in towards the left wall, but continuing downwards, while it seemed to constantly be eroding from the silt dispersing under my feet, all added up to me backing out and agreeing we’re better off heading back the way we came. At the next club meet we’ll ask for advice and go from there.

The way back went absolutely fine. We stopped at North West Junction for something to eat, and I got quite cold while we stopped, but quickly started warming up again on the return journey. We got out at roughly 4pm to the sun just about to set, and as we were walking back we bumped into Paul, also from BCC on his way back to Eglwys Faen to retrieve his kids’ trainers. We got changed, had a cuppa and a pot noodle, then headed home after another great day in the great indoors.

Ogof Y Ci – Thursday 9th December 2021

Dai MacDonald and Gareth Farr

By Dai MacDonald

We hadn’t been caving in a while, a couple of weekends is a while for us, I’d been quite busy and been ill, but with a trip planned for Ogof Draenen on the coming Sunday we both thought a short midweek trip as a warm up would work well. I’ve also got a new camera so we wanted a play about with that.

We got to Llwyn Cil Sanws Farm for around 1830, we’d got permission from the owners to park and access the cave prior to turning up, we kitted up and headed down to the entrance. We got in for around 1900 and made good speed to the gun barrel while filming. It’s beyond the gun barrel that this cave starts to show it’s more intricate formations, mainly tucked in side passages, too tight for people, or in the walls of the cave at separate beds. We got to the dig at the end and headed back, but explored the side passages and oxbows on the way. The largest of the side passages, branching off from the main chamber, and has a nice calcite flow stone formation at the entrance. Once up on the calcite flow you can follow the passage for about 30m before a calcified boulder choke with a stream emerging from it is met. It’s a tight wet squeeze, but leads to a small passage with a lot more flow stone, but it quickly closes down again.

We always use the main entrance, but there are three, a resurgence, a small dry entrance just above that and the main one further up the gorge that joins the cave half way through. We’ve never used the lower dry entrance an it looks blocked to be honest. Ogof Y Ci is a great introduction cave, with dry and wet options for most routes, there’s a good bit of crawling once you reach the calcite cascade, and lots of squeezing, but nothing extremely tight.

This was the first time Gareth and I had been to this cave in extremely wet weather, there’s no warnings of flooding in this cave, and the water was definitely a lot deeper throughout the cave, but still not deeper than the top of my wellies, but outside the river was in full flow, which we don’t usually see. The river bed is usually bone dry, but tonight it was a fast flowing river. We got out of the cave for about 2120 and headed back to the farm yard to get changed and head home.

Agen Allwedd – Inner Circle, Saturday 20th November 2021

Dai MacDonald, Gareth Farr, Dave Gledhill

By Dai MacDonald

Photos Dave Gledhill

We met outside Whitewalls for roughly 9am. It was mine and Gareth’s first trip to the Inner Circle, and our first with Trigger. As we pulled up there was two Shetland pony’s trying to scrounge snacks from anybody that was willing to give up their lunch. We got chatting to another couple of cavers who were off into Aggy as well.


We made it into Aggy for about 10:30, and made good time through the entrance series to Barons Chamber. We all emerged from the First Boulder Choke hot and sweaty, so we stopped for a drink and a quick look at the survey. We carried on along the main passage until we met the streamway junction on the right, and made our way to the 2nd Boulder Choke. We had cooled down a lot by this point and we were making good progress. The traverse was really slick, so we all kept a firm grip of the hand rope. Next we were onto the two short climbs, the first drop down was pretty easy, about 2m, and the second was more of a swing around a corner. After the North West Junction it was onto Turkey Streamway and to Turkey Pool for a good soaking, no surprise it was cold! We were fine though, we still had ground to cover, so we kept moving. The trip was faultless through Hawkins Horror, Sand Caverns and into Selenite Needle Passage. Trigger mentioned that it’s Selenite Needle Passage that left him wandering up and down Sand Caverns before, so I think the entrance is firmly printed in his head now. Once we’d gotten into the Inner Circle Trigger headed off on his own just to double check the route, and Gareth and I used the chance to have a quick drink and snack before Trigger got back, and when he did he was still unsure if we were in the right place, so we headed off together, and it turned out we were in the right place. We followed the Inner Circle anti-clockwise until we got to Swiss Passage, where we stopped for a few photos, then onto the Dome of St. Paul’s. Once back around to the beginning of the Inner Circle, we stopped for some snacks and a drink before heading off again. I felt a little chilly as we started walking again, but soon warmed up.


All in all the trip went really well in and out. We met the other cavers, that we’d spoken to in the morning outside whitewalls, just after coming back through Hawkins Horror, some cheerier than others. We got out of the cave for roughly 1630, so a great 6 hour trip.


This trip was really good caving, with no huge amounts of crawling or squeezing, mainly a lot of wide open passages, and although it’s not the most decorated cave, there’s still more than enough to keep you stopping for a look every so often. As well as actual calcite and selenite formations, the scalloping throughout this trip is absolutely gorgeous and not to be forgotten!

Ogof Ffynnon Ddu – Saturday 13th November 2021

Sam Jones, Pete Jones, Paul Chilcott, Huw Durban, Huw Jones & Clive Westlake

By Pete Jones

Photos Huw Jones

Sam and I arrived to join Paul, Huw J, and Huw D at the SWCC HQ above Penwyllt. It was a damp morning, Y Brennin Llwyd was draped over the hill tops.  After a quick chat, Huw J hatched a plan to enter the cave from the top entrance, have a look around the upper levels and bring back some equipment left in the cave after the rescue from the week before.  Before heading up to the entrance we were joined by a spritely well-spoken old fella.  Turns out he was Clive Westlake, the second person out of OFD top entrance in 1967, cave diver and cave photographer.

The team at the entrance. Clive going back into OFD 54 years later after he first emerged from it

To be honest after entering and moving through Gnome Passage and Salubrious Passage to call on the Trident and Judge, I have no idea of our exact route. To a novice like me it was a maze of passages intersected with chambers, boulder chokes and stream ways. However, the names like Swamp Creek and Shatter Pillar stick in my head. The damp black limestones interrupted by calcite veins make it clear how the cave got its name. The formations are beautiful and the helictites are bonkers. At some point Clive disappeared only to reappear twenty minutes later, a welcome relief to Huw J who thought he’d lost a legend. I’ll give it to Clive, for a gent who must be in his 70’s he doesn’t hang around and glides through the passageways.

We eventually found some ropes left after the rescue and Huw D managed to palm off all the damp ropes on to another group, leaving us with a token dry rope to carry out.  We emerged from the top entrance after three or four hours, I lose track of time underground.  The sun was sinking into the west and the Bristol channel reflected the late afternoon light back.  

Looking at the cave map back in the HQ, it was apparent we had only traversed a small fraction of the cave, which only increases my appetite to come back and explore the depths of OFD.  A fantastic trip with great company. Thanks to Huw J and Huw D for leading the way.

Ogof Craig A Ffynnon – Wednesday 27th October 2021

Huw Jones, Gareth Farr and Dai MacDonald

By Dai MacDonald

We met in a layby around 6pm, and planned a trip to “the hall of the mountain kings”
It was Gareth’s, and my first trip into OCAF, and we had been told this cave has everything! The first climb had my heart racing, and I was glad for the safety line, the second boulder choke is one of the best I’ve been through so far, with endless twists, turns and climbs to force you into all sorts of shapes. The formations in this cave are like none I’ve seen before, and many times stopped me in my tracks, from the ceilings filled with straws, stalagmites, stalactites, and helictites, and masses of flow stone, and gour pools, but none as impressive as “the hall of the mountain kings” It is by far the prettiest thing I’ve seen in my life, and I can’t wait to go again! It was a really enjoyable, wet, muddy, crawly evening!