Agen Allwedd The Grand Circle – 22nd May 2022

Dai MacDonald
Gareth Farr
Louise Lucas

I arrived at Whitewalls first, then had the message I’d been waiting for, Gareth and Louise would be late, so I made a coffee, rolled a cigarette, and walked across the tram road a little and sat in the sun.

As I walked back to Whitewalls I could see Louise getting out of the car. We got kitted up, sent the call out, and made our way across to Aggy. Louise was excited to get into Aggy again, the last time she was in was on a newbies trip before joining the club.

We made steady progress through the entrance to Baron’s Chamber, but as usual we were all sweating by the time we got into Baron’s Chamber. After a quick drink stop we were off, and heading for Main Stream. Louise had a slip on the hand-lined section in Keyhole Chamber, but got herself back up and across fine. A little longer than I remember we were at North West Junction, we were all on guard as this section is really slippery. There definitely seems to be a theme emerging, Louise falls into water. We made speedy progress towards Deep Water, which is Gareth’s and my furthest point from the last trip we did here. Without hesitation I waded in getting to waist deep, as described in journals and online, and then Gareth asked “is it getting any deeper”, and as I was replying “I don’t think so” I slipped down to shoulder depth and started struggling to catch my breath, so I headed back still trying to catch my breath. We had a quick talk about the best way to approach it, then Louise opted for swimming so far and trying to stand, and she couldn’t reach the bottom after swimming out a short distance, so turned around and I helped her back to shallower water. We talked a little more, but being completely unsure of how long we’d be swimming for, and how we’d feel swimming fully kitted up, we all agreed the best thing to do was head back the way we came. Just before heading back Louise stayed true to form and had a dunk again, while trying to help her, Gareth had a soaking as well. Heading back was fine, apart from us all being a bit miserable after another failed trip here, because of this we just headed straight out.

As I got out of the cave there was a guy asking, do I knew if the small phreatic tube outside connects into Aggy, I said it didn’t as far as I know, and asked “why’s that” he said his dog has gone into it, as I walked over to him, Louise and Gareth got out. We tried looking in with our lights, whistling, calling, and putting food down, but there was no sound at all. He said he’d called Cave Rescue, so they were on their way. We said we’d head back and ask some advice about it and maybe see if anybody else can head over to help. Once at Whitewalls the police and cave rescue arrived, so we left them to do their work, and we headed home. Once home we heard the news that the dog was safe and with his owner again.

Ogof Draenen – Sunday 8th May 2022

Dai MacDonald
Gareth Farr
Peter lamb

By Dai MacDonald

We started the day joking about Gareth’s forgetfulness, and it definitely set the tone for the day! As we’re pulling off the A465 at Brynmawr, to collect the key from Barry, Gareth says “I think I’ve forgotten my helmet”, which also means his torch as well. We collected the key, and then heading back to Merthyr Tydfil to collect Gareth’s helmet, we were on our way again, with Gareth reassuring us “I’ve got my batteries, because I charged them last night” he didn’t have his batteries, he’d forgotten them as well, but I’ve got spares so it was fine. After changing we like a cuppa and cigarette before getting going, Gareth had also forgotten his tobacco!

We quickly headed for the entrance as we were all starting to get quite hot in our caving gear. This was Peter’s first trip into a gated system and instantly he was shocked with how tight the entrance was. We made great progress through the entrance as we talked Peter through certain sections, and finally helped show the technique needed for the entrance pitch. Before we knew it we’d signed the log book at 12:30, and Gareth and I were trying to convince Peter he should try Beer Challenge, on his own, and we’ll meet him in White Arch Passage, he declined our challenge! We made it to Indiana Highway in a good time, and got straight into it after a drink stop. As we got to the end of the traverse, someone said they’d forgotten their phone and snacks at the start of the traverse….so Gareth headed back to the start of the traverse line to retrieve his stuff, fortunately this was the last time he forgot something….that day! We made our way to the junction for Megadrive and Megadrive North, and headed to Megadrive North, and then back down Canyon North to the guano pile at the start of Canyon West. After this we headed for Siambre Ddu passage, where we were all coming up with different pronunciations for Siambre. We got back to Megadrive and continued towards the Nunnery, where we detoured to Arms Park through Perseverance II, just to show Peter the way on to the other parts of the cave. Once done we headed back out in good time, and in time to enjoy the sun while changing. Overall it was a great trip, especially for Peter, who is keen to find out more about becoming a club member.

Aggy, Inner Circle 17th April 2022

Aggy, Inner Circle 17/4/2022 by Dai MacDonald

Dai MacDonald
Gareth Farr

Gareth and I arrived at Whitewalls with a stubborn white fluffy dog laying in the middle of the road, even after Gareth got out to coax it out of the way, it just walked along the middle of the road. We parked up, eventually, and got changed, sent the call out message and were ready to leave when Tom and Maxine pulled up outside Whitewalls. We were both planning an Inner Circle trip, so decided to head in together. Tom and Maxine got ready quickly and we were on our way across the tram road.
Once in the cave we made quick progress through the entrance series into Baron’s Chamber, where we stopped momentarily to catch our breath and have a quick drink. In no time at all we were at the Second Choke, and into Keyhole Chamber. We each had turns in leading and all managed well, although I’m sure I suggested a wrong turn or two, but we were soon at North West Junction. From here we headed for Turkey Pool, but on the way through Turkey Streamway Maxine said she’d like to call it a day, she had been caving the day before and felt really tired. We parted ways, with Tom and Maxine saying they’d have a look at Beehive Chamber before they left, and Gareth and I heading for the Inner Circle. Soon we found ourselves at Turkey Pool, I managed to traverse it, only getting my legs wet, Gareth traversed it as well but got a bit wetter. The rest of the way was no problem, and soon we were at the rescue dump around the Inner Circle. We stopped here for a snack and a drink, then made our way around the inner circle clockwise…so we thought! Before we knew it we were in the Swiss Village, this threw us completely, and we both started looking at the survey and scratching our heads. We retraced our steps and made a few more wrong turns, then decided we would call it a day and start heading back out. For the best part we were okay, but we made a few wrong turns on the way out as well, mainly me I think, but soon we were in the entrance series, and then at the logbook. We checked for Tom and Maxine, they were both ticked out, so we signed ourselves out for 1805, and headed back to whitewalls to get changed just in time before the rain started. Overall a great trip, and worn out for a trip to OCAF the following day.

Pork Pies at The Lamb and Fox Chamber Draenen. Trig and Gareth Rex Jones – 5th August 2018

The original plan today was to do the Daren to Cnwc through trip but Tom had to drop out so a short trip into Draenen was planned instead.

The day started at the shop with a quick chat with Brent whilst I got the key and soon after I was meeting up with Gareth at Pwll Du who seemed to be doing his own ‘Car Pool Karaoke’ shortly after with a text from Barry begging him to stop.

We quickly (well Gareth did, I took ages) got ready and had a chat with some walkers (who were ex cavers from the Mendips) on the sheer size of Draenen. We plodded off to the entrance, emptied bladders and slipped into the fun of the entrance series stopping for pictures in the dug shafts and at the knotted climb.

Enjoying the cool breeze from the lungs of Draenen

Enjoying the cool breeze from the lungs of Draenen


We signed in and noticed there hadn’t been many visits as of late or people are opting to not sign in….

Next stop would be the Wonderbra Bypass and then on-wards to Tea Junction where a break, much-needed drink and a general marvel at the huge passage decorated with straws on just one part of the roof. I’ve taken enough pictures of this famous place before so I decided we should press on.

Next was White Arch passage, another massive (in size) passage of the cave with huge and slippy boulder break down everywhere but an impressive place. We proceeded at leisurely pace stopping often to notice other small passages high up and low down always triggering the exploration styled questions of ”has anyone been there and if they have, where does it go?” a cave still with lots of secrets to give up. We went underneath White Arch itself and stopped for a photo.

White Arch Passage

White Arch Passage

White Arch

White Arch

Carrying on we arrived at the choke which leads into Lamb & Fox Chamber ”two pints of Butty Bach please” I shouted but no reply from the barman (can’t get the staff these days) we sat down and cracked open our packed lunch of pork pies which Gareth had the added extra of gummy bears and pepperami! We sat stuffing our faces just taking in the sheer size of some of the boulders which have just peeled off the wall, leading to more questions ”when?” and ”when again”

Before we left we decided to climb up a level into the muddy traverses of Indiana Highway and stopped short before the deep pitch to the left.


Lamb and Fox chamber

Indiana Highway

Indiana Highway

We exited the same way noticing on the way back how low the water levels were which prompted a quick trip down Beyond a Choke streamway to see just a mere trickle.

White Arch passage on our way out

White Arch passage on our way out

Some ''hanging death''

Some ”hanging death”

Gareth opened the gate and instantly I could feel the heat shooting down to me further in the entrance such was the weather outside!

A good short trip to waste away a saturday, home for kebab and pizza.

Ogof Craig a Ffynnon – North West Inlet – 14th June 2018

James had shown himself to be more than capable with his first trips and so Gareth and I decided to show him something different with a trip into North West Inlet in Craig a Ffynnon.

We arrived at the layby and quickly changed, as the midges were out in force and caver was definitely a favoured treat for them, and made our way to the entrance. The lock gave some minor problems as the bar refused to come through the small hole it rests in but this was soon sorted and we were in.


James entering Craig a Fynnon

James entering Craig a Fynnon.

We were soon scrambling through the entrance series and James was suitably impressed. This was the first well decorated cave he’d visited and the formations that can be seen so soon after entering are had him in awe on several occasions. It’s easy to forget what these places are like when you first see them.

James in Straw Chamber

James in Straw Chamber

It is easy to become blasé and forget how special a lot of our caves are, it is only when you take someone who has not been exposed to what can be seen underground that you remember what it is that you are speeding past on your way to whatever objective you have for that trip. It is occasions like this that you get the opportunity to slow down and look around again and often it is with a renewed sense of wonder as you see things that you’ve missed before or re-see those things you always knew were there but for some reason have forgotten.

Philosophical musings aside, we made our way leisurely through the entrance series, up the ladder at the First Choke.

Gareth and James Explore Chamber above First Choke

Gareth and James Explore Chamber above First Choke

Here, in the first big chamber reached in the cave, James was keen to explore further so Gareth took him up the boulders to the further reaches of the chamber for a look.

It was then into the crawl in Gasoline Alley. Water levels were very low after the the recent dry spell and the pool at the end was passed with hardly a shudder.

Arriving at the entrance to NWI, the clear water looked very inviting but we first nipped up to show James the small attractive sump pool and the way on further into the cave with a promise that he’d be heading that way soon. It was then back to the blasted tunnel and into NWI.

James in NWI Deep Water

James in NWI

The water was as cold as ever, in fact I’m not sure that it really gets any warmer. Perhaps the perceived temperature is a relative thing. On a warm day, you will enter the cave already warmed up and will warm up more than usual if you enter on a cold day, and so, the water will feel colder than it really is. Whatever the temperature, I love this bit of passage. It always feels like this is more like the sort of caving that non-cavers think we experience all the time. Gareth was now enjoying himself even more and decided that the warm balmy waters were great for a swim so paddled up and down while I took a photo or two of James.

James in NWI Admiring Formation

James in NWI Admiring Formation, Gareth Doggy Paddling

All good things come to an end though and we were soon getting stuck in the short section of sticky mud. And then more wonderment from Gareth and James at the increasing passage dimensions and the formations. James had been asking (tongue in cheek) when we’d see the plastic dinosaurs so it was a great surprise when he clambered over the boulder to be confronted with the Dragon formation. This needed a photo.



James With Dragon

James With Dragon

Gareth in NWI

Gareth in NWI

Gareth in Deep Water

Gareth in Deep Water

Gareth Creature Impression

We’d soon seen all that NWI had to offer and, as we’d spent longer sightseeing than usual, we moved quite quickly back through the way we’d come and were soon back at the cars. Here the midges descended in great clouds on us, forcing us to change as quickly as possible, curtailing the usual chat about the trip.




Ogof Draenen, Thursday 17th May 2018

Gareth Jones, Huw Jones and Dave Gledhill

By Gareth Jones
Photos Huw Jones

So the club have been reminding me of my lack of trip reports, having been on a few cave trips now, and after a gentle Thursday night stroll into Draenen, I feel obliged to write my first.

With my much publicised fear of heights, the plan was to see if I would cry and retreat from the first pitch (“that’s as big as a 4 storey building!”), not far from Cairn junction.

The evening began with Dave picking me up and driving to the car park opposite the Lamb and Fox pub. We started to kit up whilst waiting for Huw to arrive. Huw arrived promptly after us, and together we made our dangerous descent down the steep hill to the gated entrance. On the way Huw told us tales of the initial dig and discovery.

At the entrance, I was lucky to unlock the gate and open the hatch, to be blasted by the incredible draught that departed the unassuming crack in the rock that first drew cavers to dig there.

So, the climb down began. Through a series of flat out crawls, and descents through scaffolded vertical shafts. We emerged into the streamway with much cursing as I received a thorough soaking in the freezing waters. A slot through and under a waterfall brought us down to the initial breakthrough. More tales from Huw about the night the breakthrough occurred. In front of us the ‘Darling Rifts’ continued, while the easy way on was through a crawl in the floor to the right. Of course, Huw wanted us to have the original experience the first discoverers had, so we proceeded through the ‘Darling Rifts’. “Oh darling!”, I was very apprehensive and did not look down, the whole time wondering why we didn’t just go the easy way. At the end of a rift, we climbed down to the left and emerged in a big chamber with a boulder as big as Australia blocking the way on. A climb under the boulder brought us to a huge hole in the floor. The ‘Big Bang Pitch’, the original way on into the cave. After a few more tales, we headed into the Gyracanthus Loop and Psammodus Passage, to see amazing fossils of sharks and Jurassic sea life.

We headed back into the rifts, as I was not feeling the ‘Big Bang Pitch’ tonight (maybe next time…), to emerge back into the entrance series, and continue the ‘easy way’ into the cave. After some more cascades and crawls we emerged on to the top of the 4 storey pitch. To say I was underwhelmed was an understatement. It was a 4m climb down with a knotted hand line. So, I tightened my belt, and followed Dave down the climb, which was no where near as bad as I had scared myself into believing. Feeling like action man at the bottom, I tried not to think about the return climb.

We continued on and headed to the first major chamber, ‘Cairn Junction’, and I signed us into the log book. Job done. Or so I thought.

We decided to explore a bit more of the cave. Continuing downstream, through the ‘Wonderbra’, and ‘Tea Junction’, we headed up ‘Gilwern Passage’. I was struggling to stay on my feet for looking at the amazing passage and formations all around, and not at my feet and the path ahead. We stopped for pictures at the bigger formations and decided to turn back at an impressive inlet flowing in from an aven in the roof.
After we arrived back to the junction, we followed the ‘Beyond a Choke Streamway’ downstream. An impressive streamway, with deep pots, and traverses. After what felt like a few miles, Huw reminded me that we weren’t even a quarter of the way to the end of the streamway. With that, we decided to turn back, as it was getting late, and begin the ascent out the cave.

We arrived promptly back at the log book and signed out. We decided to take the easy way back out the cave, instead of ‘Darling Rifts’. At the foot of the 4m pitch, we climbed up with ease, and made our way back into the wet entrance series. I received another soaking at the slot in the waterfall, with the flow going down my neck into my oversuit. After ascending up the scaffolded shafts and through the flat out crawls, we popped out the hatch into the dark, pleasantly fresh, spring night.

We started the dangerous climb back up the steep mountainside, to get back to the cars and change.
A thoroughly enjoyable trip. Although I kept reminding myself that I had barely scratched the surface in Wales’ longest cave system. My lasting thought about Draenen is that it is like climbing a mountain in reverse. When you summit a mountain, the way home is downhill all the way. When you descend into Draenen, the way home is to climb a mountain.

Evening Trip Pen Eryr 26/4/18 with Gareth ”Rex” Jones

What way to better to start off a weekend than a trip to this ”amazing” cave…..

Ill try not to slate the place too much as it is a good starter cave and intro to crawling/squeezes.

Gareth had been before but had trouble getting past the initial nasty calcite squeeze and to be fair I had issues in there once with my giraffe legs.

I picked Gareth up and we headed to the car park below Daren and got changed. The plan was to do PE and if there was time, give Gareth a quick trip into Daren Cilau to visit The Vice and back out.

Rex entrance pose

Rex entrance pose

Trig Entrance pose

Trig Entrance pose

We slipped into the entrance and the first constriction was met and I cant see where he had issues before as he was in like a Jack Russel down a rabbit hole. We dropped down the climb to the left and made our way through the corkscrew easy enough. Id love to say the formations were pretty and plentiful…..and im sure once upon a time they were! Another cave with ease of access which has sadly fell victim.

We got to the end of the cave and had a poke around in some of the digs, most of them had strong drafts. I paused to have a drink whilst Gareth went off on his own poking about and then we reconvened in the once well decorated chamber and decided to head out.



Emerging into darkness we walked past Daren and decided thats enough squeezing for tonight!

Shakespear’s Cave, Wednesday 11th April 2018

“What else could we be doing on a Wednesday eve?”

A short trip into Shakespeare’s Cave – Wed 11th April 2018

Dave Gledhill and Huw Jones

By Dave Gledhill

After conducting a bit of *ahem* husbandry in the local caving area it was decided beforehand that a trip into Shakespeare’s was needed afterwards to make the drive out on a Weds eve worthwhile. It had been a few years since Huw had been in and a first for me, although I had heard of the place to be ‘sporty’ and wet.

We decided the quickest way down into Cwm Pica would be down the old water culverts which proved to be hilarious due to slippy moss and a nice amount of water flowing. The Cwm had an eerie feel with a low cloud base and fog setting in at last light as we made our way down to the cave entrance, slipping and falling into thorn bushes made this trip even more fun!!!…..’’FUN’’ Sarcasm aside, it was a nice walk down in the early spring air and fog and felt more expeditious. We entered the valley floor and jumped into the stream which flows past the entrance. Yet again a few more slips before we arrived at the cave entrance.

Huw posed for a quick photo on my camera which didn’t really come out that well. Camera stowed and in we went, stowing our kit on a mud bank in an old swirl pool to the left as we went .
‘’You lead Dave….can’t get lost’’ Huw said. He was right! There’s no option of where to go really but never mind. Small sharp scallops on the wall indicating some fast flow of water and you could see why, water levels definitely seemed slightly up but not as high as what it had been as when we got to the first duck the foam level from the previous flood was well above the duck level which in turn would have sumped. It was now I started to regret never having a caving wetsuit in my whole caving career. The duck was cold but easily passed but with some heavy panting and a fair amount of expletives from the pair of us which would have made Roy Chubby himself proud.
The going eased off slightly again with a mix of sideways crawling in water to sideways standing but thrutching (why not…it’s Wednesday) until another duck was met, kind of like an ‘S’ bend but with obstructions on the floor which leaves the onlooker to view a hilarious helmet sticking out of the water with lips pouting acting as a snorkel whilst you try a navigate a way through!
Duck passed and back to some more fun stuff. At least the cave is clean hey.

Another duck was met, this time with what can only be described as a tooth of rock sticking down in the water meaning a full submersion is required. Rising out of the water on the other side like a hippo going after a crocodile (albeit colder) I was glad I had stocked up on Clogwyn Gold previously that evening. Further on we found a mud bank to the left which had paw prints…confusing! (Huw managed to find a video later on that night where a family had taken their dog into the cave suitably equipped with protection and buoyancy).

We met a junction, to the left is a tight passage leading to the sump and on the right is a muddy tube bypassing the sump. We chose left initially and I decided to get down and dirty again and thrutched along sideways on my side think to myself with glee ‘’woohoo it’s just like Daren Cilau’’ only to turn round and see Huw walk through the constriction to which he added ‘’I just walked through that one Dave’’…..

The sump was met and the hand line was still in place but I opted out….and I mean opted not chickened *ahem* purely because I didn’t have any neoprene on……I promise. We wriggled back to the junction and took the muddy tube of fun. It really was a bit muddy and crawly with and awkward boulder climb upward which both me and Huw past with the style and grace of drunk giraffes and it was here that Huw decided that he would be going through a nasty duck and out via the sump instead of coming out this way again! And which he did, I waited for him to lip snorkel his way through an awful looking duck until he reached the sump at which point I shuffled round and reversed back through the bypass which was just as lovely as I had remembered 3 minutes previous. Good times.

We established a vocal connection before I heard a deep breath and the splashing/booming noise of Huw swimming the sump. We convened at the junction and made our way out of the cave with all the fun of the previous 25 minutes but in reverse!

We made it out the cave in just over 10 minutes funnily enough and I posed for a few photos by the entrance before we headed off back up to the old train line to get dry and changed. Opting for a more fun scramble option up an old scree slope (next week Crib Goch)

It sounds like I’ve slagged the place off but for only 35 or so minutes it’s a really fun little cave! I’d probably do it next time in summer after a full trip in the gorge.

Huw at the entrance before going in - Photo-Dave

Huw at the entrance before going in – Photo-Dave

Looking from Cwm Pica into the gorge - Photo-Dave

Looking from Cwm Pica into the gorge – Photo-Dave

Dave looking back into the entrance after the trip - Photo-Huw

Dave looking back into the entrance after the trip – Photo-Huw

Pwll Dwfn – 7th April 2018

Tom Williams
Huw Jones
Dave Gledhill

Report by Tom Williams

After booking a Yorkshire trip for later in the year, we decided it would be a good idea to brush up on our SRT and what better place to do it than Pwll Dwfn? You can practice on indoor training walls all you like, but you aren’t SRT proficient until you have used your skills in a real world cave.

The date was set – 7th April 2018. Morning broke with some heavy rain, and me thinking ‘Do I really want to trudge up the hill in this weather?’. Despite frantic pleas to my caving colleagues for a Daren Cilau trip, Pwll Dwfn was still on the cards for the day, regardless of the weather.

Meeting at the DYO car park, Huw and I had a quick coffee before Dave turned up around 1030. We were soon changed and on our way up the hill, stopping for the occasional photograph.

Tom Williams - The Entrance

Tom Williams – The Entrance

We were soon at the cave entrance, and kitted up. One last photo before we wave goodbye to daylight for a few hours. Huw was down first, to rig the first pitch, Dave and I followed with the rest of the rope bags. We found the cave already rigged with mostly 9mm static rope of a suspect vintage, we elected it would be best practice to shadow rig our own ropes alongside. The in-situ ropes were a nightmare when it came to rebelays and deviations, forever tangling around our fresh ropes. We had to be mindful we were clipping into the correct ropes at the various pitches and obstacles, although our nice clean ropes were easily contrasted against the muddy, worn, in-situ ropes.

We were making good time down to the bottom of the pot, gravity is a wonderful thing! My favourite was the 35m 4th pitch, with a deviation part way down.  It wasn’t far from my mind that for every metre we descended, we would have to climb back up. Gravity isn’t so wonderful after all.

While descending the last pitch, the rope below me got tangled in the in-situ rope, blocking my safe descent. Locking off my descender, I was held on the rope, under the waterfall which was apparently carrying more flow than normal. All while my caving chums were 15m below me, leisurely taking photos of my descent. No matter how loud I shouted, they couldn’t hear me over the roar of the waterfall. Eventually they heard my pleas and untangled the ropes to allow my final descent. By the time I got off the rope, and regained my sense of humour, I was soaked through to the skin.

From the base of the fifth pitch, it is a long walk to the final sump, all of about 5m. Some serious effort has gone into making the sump a diver’s paradise, which has apparently been dye traced to the washing machine in DYO. A quick natter and some photos, we were off back up the pitches and out of the cave. Huw J led the way, then I followed, with Dave bringing up the rear.

Many profanities and a vow to list my SRT on eBay as soon as I got home, we were nearing the top of the pot. On the second pitch I had just about got my prussiking technique efficient enough to not be aching all over by the time I got to the top of the pitch.

The hardest part of the pot was still to come, the 3m climb out of the entrance over an awkward, greasy and polished slab. Using some moves that would make a contortionist jealous, along with an ample amount of profanities and I was back to the daylight. Followed soon after by Dave, accompanied with some more profanities and three bags of tackle. Finally, Huw soon joined us in the late afternoon haze.

We were back to the cars and changed before we knew it. Ready to head our respective ways.

That night, I was unable to sleep. My whole body was still throbbing from the exertion. My mind was still racing with adrenaline, replaying every abseil, rebelay and deviation over and over all night.

I’d finally done it, a cave I had once sworn I would never, ever go into. I’d been to the bottom and out, and lived to tell the tale. I can’t wait to go back, and I certainly won’t be listing a ‘Full SRT kit, moderate usage’ on eBay. Not just yet, anyway…

Cave Rescue Practice in the Mellte and Nedd Valleys – Saturday 17th March 2018

Nick De-Gare Pit and Huw Jones

By Huw Jones
Photos – Huw Jones unless otherwise stated, in which case – Tarquin Wilton-Jones

This was to be a search and evacuation exercise, based in the Mellte and Nedd Valleys, with the secondary aim of familiarisation with lesser known sites in the two valleys. On the day, the search and evacuation part was dropped and three groups split up from the Porth yr Ogof car park and visited different areas to look for entrances, checking the accuracy of route description cards and grid references.

Me and Nick joined a group exploring the upper Nedd Valley. Our first cave to find was Pwll-y-Coeden Gnau, somewhere I’d visited many, many years ago with Barry Burn. This took some searching of the rough woodland as the grid reference was a little out but it wasn’t too long before we located the entrance and a more accurate reference was obtained using GPS. A few of us were in caving gear and so had a quick look in the Northern limb of the cave, while the others produced notes to update the route card.

Next we dropped down to the dry riverbed and found the entrance to Ogof Cadno, somewhere else me and Barry had explored all those years ago. I remember Barry as not being particularly impressed with either cave, although there are a few formations and one section of larger passage in this cave. Again three of us had a look inside, while the others had a look at the entrance to Ogof Cas, a diver’s cave with hardly any dry passage.

We then climbed up from the riverbed and headed a long way upstream, first to the enormous collapse feature of Cwm Hew Bwb, which to me looks very much like a fossil resurgence but where four waterfalls now pour over the cliff to sink amongst boulders. Then we dropped back down to river level to visit Ogof Igam Ogam (Zig Zag Cave). This time only two of us had a look in the cave, getting wet in the process as there was a shower bath to crawl under, at one point.

That was the final cave of the day and all that was left, was to walk up to the Bridge Cave car park, where we could cross the river, then walk down the road to where we’d left the cars, before heading back to the Porth yr Ogof car park for the debrief.

All in all, an enjoyable and useful day.