by Jane Bradbury
For the third caving trip of 2008, a team of five cavers (Mike Clark, Reynard Speiss, Gordon Scott, Gareth Phillips and me) plus a non-caving CCCC member (Mark Manning) headed to the South Wales Caving Club Cottages at Penwyllt, a fine location in the Brecon Beacons.
On Saturday, the cavers headed into the top entrance of Ogof Ffynnon Ddu II while Mark, taking advantage of the unseasonably warm weather, headed for Fan Hir just across the valley from Penwyllt. Underground, we made rapid progress past Gnome Passage and the Wedding Cake and down the climb into Salubrious. Ignoring the turn-off to the Judge and Trident, we navigated past the Crossroads and into the beautiful Selenite Passage. An hour into the trip (a record for us) we had reached the short wet crawl into Lavender Way, a tortuous streamway that we followed at a low level until we emerged into the final chamber before Northern Lights (our goal for the day). Here, a knotted rope showed the way onwards and upwards. Gareth squirmed up effortlessly, Reynard followed a little more slowly. Mike then spent a long time trying to gain the top of the climb before finally admitting defeat, something that Gordon and I did without even touching the rock! So it was left to Gareth and Reynard to explore Northern Lights. Reynard has posted a more detailed (and extremely funny) description of this trip on UK Caving
On Sunday, we had an exceptionally early breakfast before setting out for the hour’s walk to Pant Mawr. Mark kept us company for a while before peeling off to walk up Fan Fraith. Mike’s GPS proved very useful for homing in on Pant Mawr Pot where we had a short sun bathe (a longer one for Mike, who decided not to brave the ladders) while a team for Hades descended into the mossy, bluebell-encrusted hole. As last time, the mainly free-hanging 15 m ladder pitch into the depths came as a bit of a shock but it was very pleasant to be out of the heat and into this well-decorated cave. Time constraints meant that we positively sprinted down the streamway to the sump, only slowed down by the numerous boulders and occasional squirmy bit. We were all back out of the cave within about two hours, which allowed plenty of time for the stroll back to the hut before driving Reynard to Abergavenny for his last train home.