It was Saturday morning at the SWCC on our final pre-exped “training weekend” (read – good excuse for a long drive and a piss up), and of course, I was a wee bit stressed. However, as I sat eating breakfast and contemplating the upcoming day, a well spoken gentleman by the name of Clive Westlake appeared and offered to lead a trip into Dan yr Ogof. I nearly immediately accepted, and buggered off with Jake, Antonia and Jolene leaving the washing up to everyone else.
To access the larger system you must first pass through the show cave (and it’s accompanying dinosaurs), which is categorically more impressive thanthan the nicest bit of peak cavern. That would, really, have been enough to me. However we climbed a barrier, to the horror of the tourists, and were quickly engulfed by the further reaches of the cave, which Clive informed us stretches for some 10km (or was it miles?)
Initially we passed through some deep puddles, which in more normal weather were swimmable. This led us through the 1937 series with its straws and some pretty things, and later into the 1960s connection to DYO2, which was an entertaining crawl with some flat out passage.
Clive led us into the nooks and crannies of mazeways, that he informed us were rarely visited as they were usually sumped. We passed aasecond group at the junction to the Green Canal, which we bypassed and from there continued to the end of DYO2 to look at the ladder up to the Far North, where another party has ventured.
Returning to the Green Canal, we donned lifejackets and inner tubes with glee and little hesitation, diving into the now murky waters for what seemed to be a fairly short paddle. And it was here the really pretties began to show themselves.
Cloud chamber, with boulders polished by years of backsides resting to view the translucent forests of straws on the roof. This was followed by a seemingly never ending display of long and impressive straws, helicities and various formations. The notable feature was that nearly all formations in this cave were delicate and pure, few heafty stals and columns.
Cold now from our slow gazing, we hurried back to the junction of the round trip and were soon warm after returning through the connection crawl. The 1937 series passed by quickly and all of a sudden we were back at the gate to the show cave, emmerging into warm but rainy air for a quick change into dryish clothes.
MEGA thanks to Clive who made this trip by giving us a guided history of the cave as we walked it, and seeming to enjoy our company despite this being is 50th(?) trip into Dan yr Ogof.