Trip Reports 2018

Shakespeare's Cave & Ogof Clogwyn - 22 March 2018

Pete Flanagan, Elaine Tucker, Jonathan, Alan Gray


The Thursday club caving trip – the instructions, in the guide books, to get to these caves were all from the lay by on the Heads of the Valley road – cross the road, cross the river and head upstream until the caves are located. The road is now being completely upgraded, no lay by so we had to approach the caves from the top of the Clydach Gorge. We took a minor road north from the B4248 Blaenavon to Brynmawr road and negotiated a very narrow, country lane with two extremely tight, hairpin bends, to the village of Llanelly Hill, a former mining & quarrying settlement perched high on the south rim of the Clydach Gorge. There is a large layby, with a footpath sign at Gellifelen, above the disused railway tunnel, which is the best parking spot. NGR 2168 1215.

Shakespeare's Cave - stream passage with Pete

Our first objective was Shakespeare’s Cave and from the tram way we gingerly made our way over a steep scree slope composed of toaster sized rocks until we reached the large stream heading down to the heads of the valley road. Climbing over tree trunks, crossing the stream over slippery rocks and after about an hour the entrance of the cave was located with a small stream emerging. This cave has long been known and is said to form the inspiration for Shakespeare's Midsummer Night’s Dream as the home of the Fairies. We entered a room sized chamber about two metres high (Shakespeare must have had a good imagination to think this was the home of the Fairies!) to the rear of this small chamber was a narrow rift, about three metres high which winds its way for about 150m more or less of the same dimensions. The end of the cave is reached here, at least for us, the water becomes quite deep and five meters ahead is a duck, first passed by ACG in 1964.There are beautiful small water worn scallops over the vertical faces of the rift.

The next objective was to locate Ogof Clogwyn; we trekked upstream for about 100m then, throwing caution to the wind, climbed directly up the scree slope which was far more stable than it looked. We followed the tram way back to our start then headed off in the opposite direction. The cave was easy to find as every two minutes one or two cavers appeared, all dressed in the same equipment, all soaking wet and all with a cow tail and karabiner attached to their belt. Pete don’t tell us that we would be swimming! After fifteen had passed, all in wet over suits, we came to a steeper part of the narrow path down to the cave, here the cavers clipped their karabiner on to a rope tied off to several P-bolts. This made our descent a bit trickier as we were shunted to the outside of the path when we passed the cavers ascending. By the cave entrance were two more cavers, this time dressed in green over suits and dry. They were RAF caving instructors and when quizzed about the wet cavers they said just in increase the enjoyment level of the RAF students, who were undergoing adventure training, they had to exit the cave by the Tombstone entrance which means a flat out crawl in water.
The main entrance is 1.5m up a waterfall that can be avoided by a push up to the rock shelve above. From the entrance the stream passage meanders and the whole passage is composed of beautiful phreatic rock shelves. Using these the deeper parts of the stream can be avoided. A magnificent cave.

While on the tram way we saw some very strange looking barriers – these turned out to be for preventing motorcycle access.


Ogof Clogwyn - entrance (left) with Jonathan ------------------Ogof Clogwyn - stream passage (right) with Elaine

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