Craig a Ffynnon, Helictite Passage, 5th choke and The Promised Land – 29th May 2016 by Tom Williams

Tom Williams
Huw Jones

Meeting in the Craig a Ffynnon layby on a pleasant Sunday Morning, the sun already beating down made me reluctant to want to go underground and even more reluctant to walk up the hill in PVC suit and Neofleece undersuit. I didn’t have a choice though, today was the day that I was going to be doing a trip I’d always wanted to do. The Promised Land, 5th choke and Helictite Passage.

Making swift progress from the entrance, up through the chokes and into The Hall of the Mountain King, where we stopped to refuel. Upon opening his bag, Huw found that he had not left his phone and our car keys in a safe place as planned, but had instead drowned them in Gasoline alley.

Phone and car keys were left to dry in The Hall of the Mountain King, we began the crawl through Hurricane Highway. The initial calcite letterbox felt surprisingly spacious after everything I’d read and heard about it. After a tiring crawl we were into the Severn Tunnel and the 3-way junction.

Turning right saw us pass over the slot in the floor which lead towards Blean Elin Streamway and a vow to return and explore that at a later date. Route finding through the 4th choke was a bit tricky until I spotted an awkward looking crawl. Initially writing it off as a dead end until I took a few steps to the left to reveal it opening up around the back of some boulders.

Eventually we made it to the top of the pitch to The Promised Land and the junction which leads to the 5th choke. Here we stopped for water and food. I was overheating and made the mistake of removing my helmet to cool down. Big mistake. When putting my helmet back on, I’d found that the sweatband had gone stone cold, which came as a bit of a shock as I forced my helmet back on.

Time was getting on as we had been meandering and chatting too much. We needed to be quick. We did The Promised Land in its entirety, visiting first The Pagoda and then the 90 degree bend that leads towards Darren Cilau. Back up the pitch and it was time for Helictite passage. We took our time to admire the formations and trying to spot which ones had been featured in the Sid Perou film. We couldn’t decide which ones they were….

Quick progress to the 5th choke and a quick chat about the possibilities that lay beyond and we were on our way back out. Hurricane Highway brought thoughts of the struggle Sid Perou and his crew must have endured lugging cameras through there. I’m grateful we now have GoPro.

We were soon out into the sunshine and changed out of our wet caving gear.

What a brilliant trip, I can’t wait to return and have a look at the Blean Elin Streamway and to have a look at some of the pitches.

What a way to spend a Sunday.

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