Saturday 20 January 2024

Agen Allwedd: The Music Room & Aven Series

After a successful Pre-Christmas DCC trip into GB Cave, my second DCC outing was to be in South Wales, Aggy, or Agen Allwedd if it's in trouble. In the roster was Mel, Anne and Dave leading the cohort through the cave, left left left were the directions. After an uneventful walk to the cave (although there were plenty of ice patches and icicles), we wriggled into the entrance and negotiated our way through the entrance series.

We were treated to see several clumps (apparently colony is the collective noun, thanks google) of tiny bats littering the rooftops, which is always a treat.

We made our way through a boulder choke, which I think was a first for me, and quite enjoyable apart from my cave bag catching things at every opportunity. After the narrower sections of boulder chokes, the cave eventually opens out into the Main Passage. A large tunnel, flanked with the remains of silt and mud from years gone by. Dried and cracked, with some sections sprinkled with selenite crystals (once again, thanks google).

At this point Mel and Anne had shot off ahead, so myself and Dave meandered down the Main Passage, with the music room our destination. At some point, we met back up with Mel & Anne, they'd been off somewhere else that escapes my mind (Erse Passage perhaps?).

After a while we hit the Music Room, complete with a music stand and sheet music to a well known classic. Who knows who felt motivated to bring that with them, especially through the boulder choke!

We stayed here for a while, choosing to take on some food and drink and I was equally happy & surprised to see my steak bake had survived the pounding, almost too well.

From here we headed onwards, with the Aven Series our next port of call. In one section we found some little mud figurines, showing the cavers who came before us are not just musical, but also talented artists. My particular favourite was a mushroom, which was just next to a mobile number, with each number modelled in the clay-like mud. I resisted the urge to shuffle the numbers around, although I doubt there's much signal down there to call :D

We retreated a little from the figurine tunnel, and found another offshoot which was to be my tightest squeeze yet. A walk in the park for most cavers I'm sure, but for a novice like me, it was a little testing. With no room to progress forward with my arms, it was a case of small ankle movements to creep along the mud tube through to the next area. With Dave assuring me "it's not that bad", I shuffled swiftly, trying to convince myself small spaces are fun. In this next room, Dave found an onwards route, but after a cursory inspection I decided I'd reached my wriggle limit and chose to hang back whilst the trio carried on.

It's always difficult to understand time in a cave, especially when you're exploring a new area you've not been in before. That's for Mel, Anne and Dave. For me, I'm sat with my own thoughts in the dark "I wonder if they're coming back?", "how long has it been?", "how far do I dare walk around before losing where I am?". I chose to stay fairly close to the bag drop location, marked nicely by a large pile of rocks, and checked out the crystalline walls for a while.

After seemingly an eternity, just before I lost my mind, I heard the comforting sounds of cavers shuffling through tight spaces. It was probably only 20mins or so haha. The gang was reunited once again, but this time our destination was home. Just in time really, as I was starting to get cold after my solo sit in. The trio had actually found a little loop, and "surfaced" further up the section we were in, but thankfully had returned the way they came, to collect their belongings, and me :D

Trip Report and Photos by: Jonathon Bellman
Cavers: Jon, Mel, Dave and Anne