OFD, Cwm Dwr to Top Entrance – 26th February 2023

Dai MacDonald – Author
Gareth Farr
Huw Jones
Pete Jones

The day started as a crisp morning, with the four of us meeting in a carpark in Dowlais. Pete was driving so we loaded his car up and headed for Penwyllt. It was only on the way to Penwyllt that Gareth realised how wet this trip was going to be. He’s not the biggest fan of cold water, and his excitement soon turned to dread. Arriving at SWCC Huw sorted the key, so we got changed and got going pretty quickly.

Cwm Dwr entrance is really close to SWCC, so we were slipping down the concrete pipe in no time, and I can see why Huw kept calling it the toilet. I was quite shocked at how steeply the entrance dropped after the entrance pipes.
There’s a short bit of walking passage before stooping, then crawling, and finally squeezing, and surprisingly, in Dim Dwr there was dwr!
Emerging out into a big passage once again, a lofty and long section of passage, I had to remind myself to stop and look up every so often as we clambered over the boulders.
Before long we met a stream, and then the choke. A notorious section for call outs after people getting lost in it, and it’s easy to see why. Within no time though Huw had led us through, and we made our way to the confluence.

The first section of streamway is pretty rocky before quickly turning to a fast moving streamway. This continues until you meet the Marble Showers. This really does show off the beauty of the rock in this cave. The dark limestone with the crisp white veins cutting through it, words, pictures, or even video just can’t do it justice.
Soon after this we were making our way up the main streamway, lots of high pitched noises were made by all of us initially. It starts similarly as a fast flowing stream, the difference is the pots! Some pots you can walk around the edges, some you can traverse over, but some you’re just getting wet! Still, it’s a treat, and privilege to be able to experience these places, and it’s a great laugh trying to navigate the pots.

Going into the great oxbow is where I noticed the stunning shapes carved out by water in the roof, twisting and turning in such a soft flowing shape.
Once again we were back into the streamway after climbing down from the great oxbow. The streamway definitely changes after this point, with sharper rocks, and more phreatic shelving, but soon it’s back to more phreatic passage. This is where we started looking for maypole inlet. It starts as a relatively easy climb out of the stream using a fixed steel foot plate, and this leads up a tall fixed ladder. At the top we were into a tight rift passage. As we made our way through this tight passage we were looking for a climb up through boulders.
Eventually we found ourselves up in the rift among huge boulders, Huw was sure it was the wrong spot, and after trying to traverse further he was positive. As time went on I started thinking the worst, that we’d have to turn around and head back out Cwm Dwr. While we were all saying we were looking for the way on, in reality we were just following Huw asking “are we going up, or down” repeatedly, while Huw was the only one looking.
Finally I heard unfamiliar voices and made my way back towards them, and asked “where have you guys just come from” and they pointed exactly where we had just come from among the huge boulders. I made my way back after telling the other it was back the way we’d just come from, and the head scratching began again.
Soon we realised we’d started too early and had to just go a little further along the passage, then the real heart pounding climb began!
I’m really not the most confident when it comes to heights, and this climb was definitely a real challenge for me, mentally more so than physically.
It started not too bad with some nice easy steps, more or less, to get you a few metres up in the rift before making a step around a corner onto a small rock wedged in the rift, which felt really exposed. This leads to a body height climb, roughly about 8-9 metres high in the rift, so once again it feels really exposed, especially as there’s not a lot of hand holds. Luckily Huw was first up and had a strap to hand, which he quickly attached to the rope already there, and I pulled myself up and out of maypole inlet using the strap. Gareth and Pete were quick behind me, and we emerged into a T junction. This was the point where Huw said, you should all know where you are now, so lead the way. I was absolutely clueless, but luckily after a bit of talking we were on our way to top entrance through salubrious, and the brickyard.

Emerging onto the hillside was nowhere near as bleak as we thought it would be, and it was actually quite a pleasant walk back down to the club house.
I really enjoyed this trip, and it got me pushing myself further than I thought I could again, as caving always seems to do. This also doubled up as a reconnaissance trip as Gareth and I would like to do the full through trip this year.

Ap Robert – 12th February 2023

Trip: Ogof Ap Robert
Date: 12/02/2023
Cavers: Dai Macdonald, Gareth Farr.
Written by: Gareth Farr.

A caving trip had been planned earlier in the week for us to go on Sunday, every Sunday being our caving day and Ogof Ap Robert was our choice of cave for this week.
Sunday morning came around quickly enough, we were running a bit late as I had slept in, but eventually just after midday we got to Trefil Village. We parked up by the quarry gate and proceeded to get changed into our gear, while getting changed we were approached by a man who was curious as to where we were going today, he said he was keen to have a go at caving so we advised him to contact BCC and after he and Dai had exchanged details we left him to carry on with his day and made our way to the cave.
Just over an hour later and after looking at some interesting shakeholes along the way we arrived at the swallet in which Ogof Ap Robert is located. The swallet is situated up on the moorland between the disused Trefil quarry and Trefil village and proved to be quite a walk to get to, but we were here and eager to get in.

Ogof Ap Robert Shakehole
Ogof Ap Robert
Ogof Ap Robert Entrance

The entrance used is located just up on the right hand side of the cliff face, we donned our helmets and made our way in. As soon as we were in the cave it became apparent that the cave passages go down quite steeply, and quickly, with several small climbs down some boulders and boulder fill we reached the first boulder choke. After coming out of the choke we made our way down a few more small climbs to reach the second choke, at the end of the choke there’s a climb which begins with an awkward little manoeuvre through a small hole in the righthand side of the passage wall and leads down into another rift. We had brought rope and hangers with us as there is a hanger in place at the top of the climb to secure a hand line to to help you down and back up, but a hand line was already in place and after checking to see if it was safe to use we made our way feet first through the small hole and down into the rift below. Shortly after we then came to the third choke and the fourth choke, the fourth choke contains a scaffolded shaft that goes down and comes out pretty much at the beginning of Toad Hall, which is the biggest chamber in the cave.
Just before you enter Toad Hall, there’s an Aven that we climbed up which leads you out onto a boulder balcony that overlooks the big chamber, after taking a minute to take in the view we moved on by taking the passage to the right of the balcony, this took us over a small traverse and onto a climb down through a hole and the end of the small passage, after a couple of more small crawls we emerged back into Toad Hall.
We took a short stop for a drink and change of batteries then entered a hole in the floor which is found just to the left around some boulders as you enter Toad Hall. The hole took us under the boulder floor of Toad Hall, we were pre-warned by Huw Jones of BCC that the boulders are known to move under there and if we do go through there then we were to proceed with caution! I took a quick look and decided that it looked ok to move on, after a short careful crawl under the floor we encountered a small squeeze which I tried to go down, but couldn’t get through, then after a few seconds it dawned on me that the way through the squeeze was only a few inches to the left of where I’d first tried squeezing through, eventually we made it through and into a nice little passage which we followed until we reached Burma Road.
As we made our way along Burma Road we quickly noticed how different this part of the cave was compared to what we’ve just gone through, with all the sediment banks and muddy floors it was a lot different. The mud, as with any cave that has mud in it, did provide a little bit of entertainment, with the slips, wellies getting stuck and just generally getting muddy! We made our way along this tidy sized, muddy passage until we came to a few muddy crawls and a squeeze, shortly after which we came to the end of Burma Road, we had a bit of a chuckle at ourselves covered in mud, then decided to call it a day and made our way back out.
As we had plenty of time left on our call-out we decided that on our way back along Burma Road we’d have a look in the ‘land of Arawn’, this was also a muddy passage which we were able to stoop along for a short while until we reached a few muddy crawls, at the end of the crawls we came to an Aven which is the end of the passage, at which point we turned back around and got ourselves even more muddy crawling back out.
On our way out we had a short stop in Toad Hall to take some videos, with the videos finished we made the rest of the way out. As we left Toad Hall and entered the fourth choke the draft from the entrance was very strong, which surprised me as we didn’t notice it on the way in. While coming back out we again found ourselves amazed at how steeply and quickly this cave ascends/descends.
After a short while we emerged from the cave to the usual smells of life above ground, we stopped for a quick drink then made our way back down off the mountain, while stopping to take a look at the shakeholes that were on our path back down.
About an hour after exiting the cave we arrived at the car, got changed and after a quick cuppa and a bite to eat we contentedly made our way back home.
The trip was only a short caving trip, but it was a really good trip into a cave that we’d not been to before. Ogof Ap Robert proved to be quite a sporting cave with the climbs, crawls and squeezes, and as for the mud? Well… that was the icing on the cake for me!!!! Now onto planning the next adventure underground!

Happy Caver!