Ogof Craig a Ffynnon
SWCC - Sunday 3rd June 2007 by Keith Goodhead
(Note, spelling seems to vary; Craig ar Ffynnon and Craig yr Ffynnon are equally popular as far as can be determined ) [Hywell Davies says Craig a Ffynnon is the one to use! - Ed]
Having found a replacement helmet and light to replace the one left at Penwyllt, we were eventually underground just before midday; how lucky are some folk, who just happen to know of fellow-members living just the other side of Clydach Gorge?
Reputedly one of the most spectacular caves in Britain, there are some superb formations and vast passages to be found, even on a relatively short trip. At least two members of the party had been on previous trips into Craig a Ffynnon, but at about five and more than ten years ago it was just as well that route-finding is not a problem. The main reason for this is that the cave is almost fully taped, although we had some notes too, just in case.
There are some nice straws that deserve a carefully lit photo at some future date, then the first choke isn't much but thereafter are some pleasant stream passages reminiscent in places of some of the wider parts of Ogof Capel, with the stream running against one wall. A 'volunteer' was persuaded to free-climb the pitch (not really a problem except the last four feet!) and duly rigged the ladder and life-line.
Almost immediately beyond the pitch is the beginning of the second choke -
a completely different prospect from the first, this goes on for at least 10
minutes (it felt like 15, in the queue) and one is certainly warmer at the top!
The passage opens out here and despite some crawling and some really gloopy
sections is really quite easy going. There are some good formations here too,
including some very strangely angled straws:
The impressive Travertine Passage (It apparently means "A light-coloured porous calcite, CaCO3, deposited from solution in ground or surface waters and forming, among other deposits, stalactites and stalagmites"; we would have looked more carefully, had we known!) is reached after passing (and walking on, unfortunately) many large gours. These really needed a big flash to provide any scale:
Travertine Passage just keeps on increasing in size as one progresses, then turning the corner the full extent of the Hall of the Mountain King is revealed. This has some really stupendous formations way up high, but borrowing some 'big guns', and by pointing out that the white formation on the left is actually about fifteen - twenty feet long, the following gives some idea:
it's just a shame about the condensation droplets! The 'real' photographer amongst us almost certainly has some better shots.
So, after stopping for some refreshment (Do you really have enough to share, Bill?) and general photography including lots of experimentation by this first-timer, we made our way out, just in time to call in our safe exit before our ETA of 5 o'clock (It was a Sunday after all!)