Dolygaer is situated between two caving regions of South Wales, Ystradfellte and Llangattock escarpment, giving us access to a huge variety of caves. The Brecon Beacons National Park as a whole encompasses some of the most important cave systems in Europe.
The formation of the limestone caves around Dolygaer began over 300 million years ago! The limestone that makes up the caves was formed in shallow tropical seas in the Paleozoic era. Not many people realise but much of it is of organic origin, meaning it is made up of the skeletons;and shells of various sea creatures. Amongst the most spectacular fossils to be seen are Lithostrotion corals. Their intricate internal detail is often beautifully preserved, giving visitors a fascinating insight into ancient life forms.
In short, if you are interested in caving or our natural and geological history;then Dolygaer is the place for you!
Porth Yr Ogof is an active river cave and is a fantastic experience, as it has a whole host of challenges for all ages and group sizes. If you are nervous about caving then Porth Yr Ogof is the perfect place to start as there are many passages, crawls, and challenges to have a go at. With older groups it is even possible to abseil through one of the Cavens!
Anyone that has experienced the cave will be able to reminisce about key challenges such as ‘the letter box’, ‘the toilet’ or ‘sewer’ and ‘the washing machine’ among many other memorable features.
Ogof Clogwyn is a beautiful cave which has a waterfall out of the main entrance making it an absolutely unforgettable experience. The cave’s first documented exploration was in 1951 by South Wales Cave Club.
Ogof Clogwyn has excellent phreatic shelving, which can be traversed to avoid puddles which can be over welly deep in places! The cave itself is fairly short, comprising only about 165 metres.
As such, Ogof Clogwyn is a fantastic cave for a half day or short day and is ideal for beginners that are looking to get their first taste of caving, with easy navigation and a variety of challenges throughout the cave. Anyone who has visited the cave may have experienced the ‘toothpaste tube’, (the thin exit of the cave) or the ‘ironing boarding’ in the upper series, or ‘Donald duck’, a nice wet challenge!
Bridge cave was first documented in 1938 by T.A.J. Braithwaite. In 1974 South Wales Cave Club dug through the boulder choke to reveal 45 metres of passage leading to a big chamber which leads to a sump which connects to Little Neath River Cave in 1967 (Dive by Bristol Speleological Society.)
Bridge Cave is an active river cave which leads to Little Neath Cave via a sump (water to the roof of the cave which is only accessed by divers). In the main chamber of Bridge cave there is an oblong boulder which spans the width of the cave which creates a bridge, while by the bridge there is a chamber with a few formations. Within the cave there is also a waterfall to be found. The entrance of the cave is fairly typical in cave style as its starts off with an easy crawl. This cave is suitable for first time cavers.
White Lady is a short cave which, when explored after Bridge Cave, creates a perfect day trip for beginners. It was first documented by T.A.J Brathwaite in 1938 and remains popular with local cavers to this day.
White Lady is a wet cave, with chest deep water in places. Traversing along the side of the cave to stay out of the water makes the cave a good challenge for beginners; there is a sump at the end of the cave which leads to Cwm Pwll-y-Rhyd, which is only accessible by divers. White lady has a few formations to be seen and is a relatively easy cave to navigate in.
First surveyed in 1944, by Brian Price, Eglwy Faen is believed to have been a place of worship by the Quakers in the 18th century. The cave was first discovered by the Reverend of Monmouth Boys’ school, who regularly took trips to the area and encouraged the boys to explore the caves.
Egwly Faen is a relatively dry cave and once you are in the main entrance there is a large chamber which leads off into three different passages which can be explored. Each passage has an element of crawling. There are four other entrances into the cave, one of which is the famous ‘waterfall entrance’, where the group can crawl through a passage and exit the cave through a waterfall.
This is great cave for beginners with straightforward navigation and it gives the group a great sense of exploring and being able to lead the way and discover the cave.
First entered in 1948 by Glynn Thomas, Ogof y Cl is an active stream cave, which in practice means that it is quite a wet cave! It's good for intermediate cavers who may have experienced caving before, although the entrance to the cave is small and starts off with a wet crawl for about 60 metres. The cave then opens up into a larger passage.
There are a couple other entrances which can be found, and once inside there is only a squeeze called ‘the polo’ to negotiate. The cave is half a day’s visit in terms of timings and a great challenge.
Will’s Hole was first explored in 1936, By Will Lloyd. This is a good cave for people who would like to try their first ladder pitch in a cave, though it is best undertaken by those who have experienced caving before. The cave is situated in the Sychryd gorge which is a short climb up to the entrance and then another short climb down into the cave before you find the ladder pitch, which is negotiated by abseiling down into the bottom of the cave.
The cave has some good formations and is relatively easy to navigate, which allows the group to fully explore the cave. To exit the cave the group will have to learn to climb the relatively free hanging ladder to the top of the pitch and then negotiate the traverse line back to the climb up to the entrance - not to be underestimated! This is a great cave for fit people, and it a good half day in terms of timings.