Sunday, 5 April 2015

Hunting for gold on the Black Mountain

With fine weather forecast we decided to make the most of it and plan a walk to a couple of remote caves on the Black Mountain. We parked up at the track to Llyn Y Fan Fach packed our caving gear and cameras into back-packs and headed off on our journey in our walking clothes. Within 100m of setting off we had a small stream to cross and Mark hopping across the stepping stones, misplaced his footing and ended up falling into the stream. With the prospect of spending the day in wet gear we returned to the van for Mark to change his wardrobe. Re-kitted we then joined the tourists in the walk up towards the picturesque lake. Once at the lake we then traversed around on the contour to take us across to our target area, the limestone exposure of Carreg Yr Ogof.

Ogof Carreg Yr Ogof

After a couple of hours of enjoyable walking we arrived at our first target - Ogof Carreg Yr Ogof, the cave lending its name to this section of hill. We changed and dropped down the entrance located beside an old lime kiln. The lush green entrance gave way to a bouldery passage that sloped down to a constriction that then opened out to reveal the Main Chamber. This chamber was finely decorated, no doubt assisted by minerals leaching out of the old lime kiln above. We then made our way through a tight crawl that ran alongside a boulder collapse to enter the final chamber, at the bottom of which is a fine lake. Mark returned for his camera and a couple of photos of this clear blue-green lake was photographed before heading back to photograph the Main Chamber. After an hour or so of photos we emerged to glorious sunshine and made our way to our second target - Ogof Y Garimpeiros.

Ogof Carreg Yr Ogof
Mark in Ogof Carreg Yr Ogof

Ogof Carreg Yr Ogof
Mark in Ogof Carreg Yr Ogof

Brendan chills out in the final chamber

Ogof Y Garimpeiros

We arrived to find some evidence of collapse at the entrance, and the wheelie bin lid (used to cover the entrance) some way down in the entrance hole. Half an hour of pulling out loose rock and tidying up the top of the entrance shaft followed before we felt confident to tackle the entrance. Mark entered first and after passing a committing squeeze declared that the entrance was totally collapsed and would take considerable digging to pass. Brendan was then persuaded to go down for a second opinion, which turned out to be wise at the way into the cave had been behind Mark's head and so we entered the start of this large passage. The cave has a distinct character and may not be to everyone's taste! The passage although large is over and through boulders for its entire length. There appears to be not a lot holding the boulders together and it is a little bit of a test of nerves. Route finding is easy and we were soon at the end of the cave, some 50m or so beyond the end shown on the survey. We then made our way back taking a couple of photos as we went, watching the time so we had enough daylight to see us off the mountain. On our way out we had become somewhat accustomed to the shaky nature of the cave, it felt very much less oppressive than on the way in.

Ogof Garimpeiros
Mark in Ogof Garimpeiros

Ogof Garimpeiros
Brendan in Ogof Garimpeiros

Ogof Garimpeiros
Mark in Ogof Garimpeiros

Ogof Garimpeiros
Brendan in Ogof Garimpeiros


Emerging from the cave, things looked a little darker than we expected, the sun was only just above the horizon. It was at this point that Brendan realised that he had not changed his watch to BST and it was clear that it would be dark before we were down off the mountain. We headed back on a more direct route making the final descent to the carpark in darkness with our way lit up bay caving lamps.

A long, tiring but enjoyable day on the mountain.

Present: Mark Burkey and Brendan Marris

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