Monday 6 April 2015

Rocking around Carmarthenshire

Bank holiday Monday saw us taking a drive to Crwbin Carmarthenshire to meet up with Phil and Emily for the second day of finding and photographing some of the less visited caves of South Wales.
Brendan had skipped breakfast and wasn't feeling 100% after walking the Black Mountain the day before in the blazing sunshine, so it was just as well that our objectives were only a ten minute walk from the parking spot where we met up.

Ogof Nant Hyfryd

After kitting up Phil led us to the quarry where an impressively unstable looking quarry face awaited us.
The entrance was clearly visible from across the quarry 16m above a shelf with a further 10m drop below the shelf. 
We ascended the loose slope to the face where the final 4m looked almost impossible. We looked this way and that trying to find a way up until a metal stake was spotted up a loose looking climb. As I ascended large chunks of rock came away as I gardened my way up the face. Finally I reached the last awkward move and reached for the metal stake only to find this also come away in my hand!
Finally I scrambled in to the entrance and begun to look for a suitable place to tie off the rope for the others to ascend. Phil came next and found the climb harder than he had expected, even with a hand line.
Brendan and Emily watched nervously as again Phil found good chunks of the face give way as he climbed & decided it would probably be wise for them to continue the search for other cave entrances Brendan had tagged for finding.
We arranged to meet back up at 3pm and Phil and I headed in to the cave.

Brendan and I had read the description and I had some survey which described a linear rift passage with route names such as the Double Totem poles & Pete's paradise, so we were expecting something rather pretty.
As phil and I rounded Curtain Corner we found the rift begin to close down until after 15 minutes we were forced to crawl through the phreatic passageway.
There were a couple of respites butr the rest of the cave proved to be mostly crawling and flat out crawling with the occasional squeeze.
The formations were quite pretty, but not quite what I'd been expecting and near impossible to photograph due to the constricted nature of the passage.
After flat out crawling around White Corner we reached a chamber with a squeeze which took us in to an unstable choke and here we could go no further.
A few photographs were taken on exit where we found the other two waiting in the sunshine. Phil had another good chunk of the quarried face give way as he made his way down and this echoed impressively around the quarry as it went.
I managed my way down without issue and was very happy to arrive safely with the others to continue the hunt for the couple of remaining entrances.

Phil at Curtain Corner

Phil in passage just before Pete's Paradise

Phil in the final chamber before the choke

Crwbin Cave

The van was parked en route so we stopped off for a drink and snack before continuing. Emily had to get off, so it would just be the three of us continuing.
We were soon in a confusing wooded area with different levels of 'steps' from the old quarrying.
Phil led us to the obvious entrance, but Brendan was looking rather pale. He was pretty sure that it was dehydration from the long walk in the sun the previous day and so elected to sit in the shade whilst Phil and I had a quick dive in to the cave. 
After a short crawl we were in a tight rift marked as a squeeze on the survey. This is an awkward piece of passage that exits in to a right angle bend.
After this the passage gained in size and entered a sand floored chamber with an impressive ceiling sloping down before us to meet the floor. To the right of this we entered some steeply descending mud filled phreatic passages which pass a couple of avens and passage way which all end in deep pools of water except in the driest of weather. The entire cave took only 25min's even stopping for a quick photo in sand floored chamber before heading out to meet Brendan.

Phil in the Sand Floored Chamber

Ogof Capel Dyddgen

With Brendan now looking almost human again we continued through the wooded area to an impressive 3m cave mouth in the quarried face. It was obviously a favourite for locals with beer cans, garden chair and even a BBQ area around the front. What was unexpected was the sheer size of passageway in this interesting cave. We were immediately greeted by a 9m high passage which would not be out of place in the Ogof Ffynnon Ddu system. Brendan took a couple of photographs and Phil and I went to take a look at the duck, which was sumped, before we made our way back to the cars. We said our good byes to Phil and took the hours drive back to Penwyllt stopping off for a well earned meal on the way.

Phil in the Main Passage
Phil in the Main Passage

Present: Brendan Marris & Mark Burkey, with thanks to our guides Phil and Emily

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