Popular Caves Nearby
Brief descriptions of the most popular smaller caves of the area. These are all within easy driving distance of Whitewalls, situated either in the Clydach Gorge or Trefil Quarry area.
Llanelly Quarry Pot
NGR: SO 22468 12408 – what3words: ///bits.ogre.redeeming – Length: 1705m
From the village of Clydach, drive down Quarry Road to reach a parking place nearby an old railway arch leading into the disused quarry. The entrance of the cave is at the end of the quarry on the right-hand side.
Note: The entrance sometimes gets covered by falling debris from the nearby cliff. It’s wise to take some tools to dig it open if necessary.
Llanelly Quarry Pot is an excellent streamway cave. The entrance rift is tight and awkward (especially on the return), but the reward is an impressive pitch leading on to the middle of a fine streamway with sculpted rock ledges.
Upstream reaches the well decorated Midsummer Night’s Dream Streamway, where a notable formation called the ‘Totem Pole’ is found at the base of an aven leading to the Totem Aven Series. This is a real collector’s piece, ascending roughly 40m above the streamway in a series of 4 consecutive climbs with a number of blind passages heading off. This currently has fixed ropes in situ, but the climb is still quite committing. The streamway continues before ending at a 30m long duck beyond which it is not far to a sump.
Downstream is initially pleasantly easy-going with nice formations, before becoming a bit more arduous at Midsummer Night’s Nightmare Streamway. This eventually leads to a sump, very close to the end of Shakespeare’s Cave.
Entrance Rift – 10m handline is useful.
Pitch – 30m rope (4 P hangers in place) or 20m ladder and double lifeline.
NGR: SO 21679 12612 – what3words: ///topics.relishes.clef – Length: 835m
Located in the Clydach Gorge very close to the A465 Heads of the Valleys road.
Access: The cave is locked, with a leader system in place to protect the vulnerable formations throughout the cave. See the Cambrian Caving Council website for further information.
Ogof Capel used to be the domain of divers only, until a dry connection from Ogof Gelynnen was dug in 2005, bypassing the two sumps. After the initial crawls and dug out sections Ogof Gelynnen leads to a shored up boulder choke that needs to be passed through with care. Beyond this the Capel streamway is met which is well decorated throughout most of its length with large quantities of straws and other formations. Slalom Passage is the only side passage heading off the streamway, and this is also well decorated with stal grottos. A little further along the streamway a 30m duck is met; this is quite spacious but can sump during wet weather. Beyond this the formations continue and those by Tuppenny Ha’penny Choke are particularly nice. The cave then closes down to a rift before becoming too tight to continue.
CSS has a number of Capel leaders, see keys and leaders for the full list.
Ogof Capel photos by John Stevens
Ogof Pont Gam/Ogof Nant Rhin Through Trip
Pont Gam Entrance – NGR: SO 20914 12614 – what3words: ///milk.distorts.height – Length: 483m (total length of Pont Gam and Nant Rhin)
The Pont Gam entrance is on the way to Craig a Ffynnon from Whitewalls at a bend in the road just beyond where Blackrock Road becomes Main Road. Call at the house (The Unicorn) for permission; the cave is on the other side of the road by the stream directly opposite. Please don’t park outside the property.
This cave is one of the few SRT trips in the area, with 3 pitches descending to join Ogof Nant Rhin in the Clydach Gorge. There are some awkward sections in this cave and plenty of places to snag your kit, but overall it’s a fun and interesting trip with the option of adding on a visit to Ogof Clogwyn further downstream in the Clydach Gorge.
A crawl from the entrance soon reaches the first pitch (10m), leading to a knobbly chamber with an interesting rock bridge. Follow the stream down beneath this bridge and along a decorated section of streamway until reaching a tight rift passage on the left. This is awkward going, but soon reaches a small chamber followed by a short bit of stooping to the head of the second pitch (3.5m). This is soon followed by the third pitch (12m) a short crawl further. This is the impressive Aven D’Oznog, beneath which is now Ogof Nant Rhin.
At the foot of this fine aven, a squeeze below the pillar of flowstone leads into the rest of the Nant Rhin cave system. This becomes a rift passage to be travelled at various levels until reaching a junction. Heading right here leads to the cave entrance via Golden Showers with some sections of crawling along the way. This becomes lower and wetter as it nears the scaffolded entrance emerging into the Clydach Gorge.
Back at the junction, heading left passes a flowstone formation called Douggy the Crab before reaching a waterfall. After climbing this, then dropping back down to stream level, a junction is soon reached. Straight on a short decorated passage ends with Garden of Delights chamber, while left heads towards the end of the cave passing the pleasant PF Formations. Beyond this more crawling is necessary to reach Distant Voices Aven and again beyond that to reach an area of digs including Kerplunk and Jaws of Death.
Pitch 1 – 15m rope, 2 maillons, Y-hang belayed to a natural. Or 25m rope, 3 maillons to include the short climb below.
Pitch 2 – 10m (or 12m if backing up to a natural), 3 maillons. Single bolt, followed by a Y-hang
Pitch 3 (Aven D’Oznog) – 20m rope, 3 maillons plus optional deviation to avoid water. Back up to a natural, single bolt, then Y-hang.
Ogof Nant Rhin
NGR: SO 21040 12420 – what3words: ///crawler.cabbies.chitchat – Length: 346m
Located in the north side of the Clydach Gorge, below and just downstream of a large layby on the A465 Heads of the Valleys Road. Ogof Nant Rhin can be visited without the need for SRT, perhaps combined with other caves of the Clydach Gorge.
The low scaffolded entrance is at the bottom of a steep unstable scree slope leading down to the river Clydach from the layby. The trip starts with a crawl through a streamway with sections of phreatic shelving. The passage then becomes taller before another crawl beneath Golden Showers, then back to walking size again. At a right-hand bend a climb up into an awkward rift passage leads to the impressive Aven D’Oznog, via a tight squeeze at the end. This is where the final pitch of the Pont Gam through trip enters the cave and is worth seeing for the flowstone formations.
Returning to the main passage, heading left passes a formation called Douggy the Crab before reaching a waterfall. After climbing this, then dropping back down to stream level, a junction is soon reached. Straight on a short decorated passage ends with Garden of Delights chamber, while left heads towards the end of the cave passing the pleasant PF Formations. Beyond this more crawling is necessary to reach Distant Voices Aven and again beyond that to reach an area of digs including Kerplunk and Jaws of Death.
NGR: SO 21299 12388 – what3words: ///tomato.fulfilled.opposite – Length: 352m
Located in the side of the South side of the Clydach Gorge 400m upstream from the Devil's Bridge.
Ogof Clogwyn is a popular novice-friendly cave, and deservedly so. This is an easy and pleasant stream cave with attractive rock shelving. A trip here doesn’t take very long and can easily be combined with trips to neighbouring caves of Ogof Nant Rhin and Shakespeare’s Cave. The entrance to Clogwyn is easily recognised by the waterfall issuing from it. This leads directly to a walking-sized meandering streamway, passing several small side passages that either oxbow or lead back to alternative smaller entrances to the cave. A pile of boulders at a right-hand bend has a climb up to Upper Series where it’s possible to do a round trip. The cave ends with a sump with a second smaller sump down a low passage on the right.
Ogof Clogwyn photos by Andy Watson and Emyr Walters
Located high on the Langynidr moors above Trefil, this cave is almost impossible to find without GPS. However for anyone willing to embark on an hour long trek across this shakehole infested moorland the reward is an easy cave with some surprisingly large fossil passages.
If parking on the Trefil Quarry road, be aware that the gates may be closed before you return.
The cave entrance is an obvious rock arch with a slope of gritstone boulders heading in, but being low to the ground is not easy to spot until close by. You’ll definitely know when you’ve found it as there’s a plaque mounted at the entrance with details of the cave’s history. There are two ways on from the bottom of the entrance chamber, but the right-hand one ends in a boulder run in after only 30m. Heading left, the passage leads to a high-level rift which closes down soon after. Beneath this is a hole which leads down to the major fossil passages in the cave system below. Following the passage at the bottom leads to a large breakdown chamber. A number of different passages radiate out from this central area and there’s quite a lot to explore without the need for a description or survey. The two large passages heading off in the right-hand direction both end quite abruptly with boulder blockage indicating the presence of a fault-line here and the large passage heading off to the left does likewise. This cave has long been considered to have good potential for further discoveries as this is surely just a fragment of a much large system, but as yet only small extensions have been made. There are a collection of side passages heading off the main route, but none of these extend beyond the faults.
Photo by Matt Voysey
Photos by Matt Voysey
Located in the disused Cwar Yr Ystrad Quarry, about 3 miles from the village of Trefil. The road beyond Trefil Quarry is gated and only open during quarry working hours, so a long walk is now required to reach the cave. Follow the tarmac track which eventually becomes gravel surfaced. Stay on this past a fork with a triangle of grass, then take the track on the left and to head into the quarry on the right here. As you enter, head right and look for the cave above boulder pile next to the quarry cliff. The entrance has a wall of stones across which should be re-built after your visit.
A short drop soon lands directly into large fossil passage. This is mostly of wide dimensions and walking height with just the occasional stooping section or short crawl, and continues as a single passage until a junction is met after about 200m. Heading left here is the continuation of the main passage, while straight on and upslope leads to the Nant Criban branch of the cave. Here initially sizeable dimensions soon end, with a crawl becoming the only way forward. Cramped awkward progress then leads to a small chamber and a further 80m of crawling before reaching a 50m section of the Nant Criban streamway. The Nant Llwyd streamway can also be accessed for a short distance by dropping down the hole a short distance into the initial crawl.
To continue along the main passage, take the left-hand route back at the junction heading downslope. This reaches a boulder choke after 300m. This obstacle is easily passed by taking the obvious worn route through the boulders to re-emerge in open passage after 10m. Large dimensions continue for a while before diminishing to a small stream passage. Follow the meandering stream with some sections of crawling until another choke is reached. It’s possible to continue following the stream here, but it soon becomes too tight. A route through boulders leads to further small passages but all end in chokes.