Daren Cilau – Price’s Dig to Busman’s Holiday, Sunday 27th October 2013 by Morgan Specht

Morgan Specht, Huw Durban, Huw Jones

I met up with Huw and Huw at the Chelsea cave club cottage, Whitewalls, overlooking Crickhowell and the Usk. It was a busy weekend at the cottage and I was met at the door by the lovely smell of fried breakfast cooked by the full house of Imperial College Cave Club members. The wind was up that weekend and the power was out as a result, so gone were my hopes for a warm shower and a cosy changing room to change in before and after the trip.
The planned trip was to go through Price’s Dig and explore Busman’s Holiday, which is a tiny part of the Darren Cilau cave system. This wasn’t the trip that I had originally planned. The first plan was to go into OFD 1, but it had rained too much so the streamway in OFD 1 was out, then the plan was to go into Ogof Draenen, but that changed to Price’s. A year before I did a trip from the entrance to Darren through the cave emerging out of Price’s. It was one of the hardest cave trips I have ever done and after emerging from the muddy crawl in Price’s and I vowed to never again go in there…….
We got geared up and offered to help carry some digging gear in for Tony Donovan who was attempting to push through a boulder choke in Price’s to hopefully find a way through to Craig A Ffynnon.
We made our way up the hill, through the locked gate and started our crawl through mud, scaffolding and a few very tight spaces. I have to say at this point that none of it was particularly difficult but being tall and long legged I find crawls tiring. I led the way down through a scaffolded shaft down to a sump! The way on used to be a sump but Tony, who we were carrying the gear for, managed to encourage the rock to move out of his way and produced an easy bypass. Shortly after this bypass you get to a long phreatic tube, which is impressive to see and cosy to slip through. We emerged in to the large chambers that are synonymous with Llangatock cave systems. I am always impressed by the size of these chambers and large rectangular passages. My light, a Petzl Duo struggles to reach the ceiling in most places. We turned left and headed down towards the newest extensions to the cave. We waited in one of the boulder chokes for Tony to join us and guide us to where he was attempting to open more passage. Tony is definitely at home underground and impressively can move his sizable frame quickly through difficult cave passages with large amounts of gear in tow. Rock seems to move out of his way and with good reason.
We carried on through a well decorated cavern. The “pretties” which are rare under Llangatock are really special, they are few and far between this high up on the mountain but the ones there are special. After a short break there we carried on to the newest extension to the cave where we dropped our gear, leaving Tony and his helper to move to the dig. We doubled back explored further down the gigantic passages of Busman’s which lead back into the main system of Darren. After a bit we made our way back out through Price’s. Soaked, muddy and exhausted we emerged from the cave and went back to Whitewalls, where we got changed in the dark changing room.
It was a good trip. Good experience, good company and some good stories. The trip did highlight that I need a better torch!

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