Saturday 21 September 2013

Pwll Y Gwynt - Mud, Sweat and Tears

We headed out to photograph and video a cave that has little record of visitation. Over the next few hours we were to find out why so few venture to this cave. With a good description, an accurate grid reference, a GPS and the benefit of seeing photos of the cave entrance from a previous group's visit we headed along the tramroad with a certain degree of confidence.
Beyond Eglwys Fean we left the tramroad and headed up the slope and gradually veered right until we were above the cliff beside the tramroad that contains the entrance to Agen Allwedd. From this point onwards the ascent was very steep, following the edge of a scree slope as we climbed to a gully nearly 80m above the tramroad. Once the gully was reached the climb became steeper and our search for the cave began as the GPS now indicated we were less than 30m from the entrance. We split up and combed the escarpment looking for the entrance. For the next two hours we traversed, climbed and looked at every possibility. Mark headed high, while Keith traversed along the escarpment at a lower level. It was at this point that Mark made his bid to appear in the Dudley Caving Club Hall Of Fame for loosing his SRT kit. Previously SRT kits have been lost in the Green Canal, dropped into a 20m deep sump and today's entry was to drop it into a tree. As Mark descended from the top of the escarpment, it was clear that he could not stop himself slipping off and keep hold of the tackle bag at the same time. He cried out it's going to be me or the tackle bag, a few seconds of clinging on before a cry of 'below' came and the bag bounced down the slope then over the top cliff. Keith was below and shouted frantically not knowing wether it was a bag or person who had come down. Mark could just make his way down now and we headed to the bottom of the cliff where the bag should have been and to meet Keith. No sign of the bag though, Had it gone all the way down to the tramroad? Just then Keith spotted it stuck up in the tree. Keith climbed up the tree that grew out of the cliff face above the perilous scree slope 80m above the tramroad. We held our breath. It was retrieved and after picking up a few items that had fallen out we continued our search. Two hours forty five minutes after setting out Mark found the entrance, we had all been within 10 feet of it earlier in the day.

Looking up at the escarpment from the tramroad

Keith at the entrance to Pwll Y Gwynt

A flat out crawl through the body sized entrance led to the head of the first pitch. Mark rigged from the two scaffold bars at the top of the pitch. The second one giving the best hang, although we are not sure how long it will last as it is well corroded. Once we are all down our next challenge awaits as we find a squeeze links the First and Second Avens. Mark quickly decides it is to be done without SRT kit on so once de kitted tried again and after some thrutching made it through. Brendan followed next and took three attempts to make it through and the finally came Keith, but unfortunately leaving the Gopro behind.

Squeeze from First to Second Aven - Pwll Y Gwynt
Keith in the squeeze from Second to First Aven - Pwll Y Gwynt

A short crawl led us into the Third Aven where we traversed around a ledge to take us into a crawl heading to the Fourth Aven.

Squeeze from First to Second Aven - Pwll Y Gwynt
Keith in the Third Aven - Pwll Y Gwynt

A climb up and then along a short rift took us to a point 5m above the floor of the Fourth Aven. A climb down a slippy rope took us into this impressive chamber.

Keith and Mark in the Fourth Aven - Pwll Y Gwynt

From the Fourth Aven the way on was a low crawl leading off from the opposite side from the climb down. From here the cave becomes muddier and muddier as we crawl towards the Fifth Aven. The progress is slow as the mud is very sticky and the passage low and tight in places. We missed the climb up to the Fifth Aven on the way in as it is in a rift in the roof, but on reaching the 'Quick Way' we returned to find it.

Approaching the Fifth Aven - Pwll Y Gwynt
Keith approaching the Fifth Aven - Pwll Y Gwynt

We attempted the 'Quick Way' on the way out, but turned back after a couple of body lengths. The squeeze proved easier on the way out, unfortunately the scree slope was more tricky going down than on the way up to the cave.

Present: Keith Edwards, Mark Burkey and Brendan Marris


  1. Yeah, that does about sum it up. As soon as I have fully recovered and the nightmares have reduced in frequency we will have to go back and complete the video, not to mention getting a few more photos.

    1. Let us know, we might be talked into coming too.

  2. We have obviously made this sound too nice if you are wanting to join us. Will let you know. Keith is nursing a very sore elbow at the moment.