© Chelsea Spelaeological Society - Updated August 2019
CHELSEA SPELÆOLOGICAL SOCIETY Caving in Wales, the South of England, and beyond

DAREN CILAU - CNWC/DAREN THROUGH TRIP

Written by John Stevens

Ogof Cnwc to Daren Cilau

Ogof Cnwc (Price’s Old Dig) [SO 21063 14925] is located in a quarry to the west of the sheep dip junction. The normal approach from Whitewalls is to ascend to the tramroad that follows the base of the Daren Cilau Quarry and to follow it south about 600m beyond Pen Eryr. The entrance is behind a hillock at the base of the cliffs and is triangular in shape. A gate is just inside, (key available from Whitewalls) which can be opened without a key from the inside. A short length of stooping passage ascends into the first low chamber which has a signing in book. Bear left through a low crawl across shallow pools to emerge in the roof of Calcite Chamber. There is a 2m climb down the flowstone before following the rift on the left. The rift links to a tube on the right to a bend where it becomes a tight vertical rift. A crawl continues to a slope up to a scaffolded shaft. Descend the shaft halfway and crawl through a choke to emerge in a walking passage. In very dry weather, a sump at the base of the shaft can be followed to also emerge in the walking passage. After 50m this enters Price’s Prophecy (decorated chamber) and the taped route is followed to the left and across boulders to reach the main Busman’s path. To the left is some 200m of passages ending in various digs but the way on is to the right. This descends to cross an area of calcited floor (narrow taped path) past formations. The path continues easy with a trickle of water passed on the left as the route drops down boulders to the right. A boulder slope rises up and right to easy going. The roof lowers to a crawl with a taped off oxbow ahead forcing you to go left into stooping passage. This reaches the other end of the oxbow, which is a loose climb. Only 20m beyond the route is a crawl on the left, ahead is a choke with a route to some lower passages. The crawl is mainly hands and knees but lowers over blocks at the far end just before entering a chamber. From the chamber a climb up through boulders gains the continuation which passes through a fault controlled section with various routes at different levels. All reunite and come to a high level side passage on the left, at this point a boulder ruckle hides the way on to the right. If this is missed the passage ends after 15m in a wet choke. Once in the ruckle a chain ladder is soon found. At the base a chamber leads down and to the left into a wet choke (loose), which is followed round to the right, down a hole, to emerge into Antler Passage. Antler Passage is walking but has numerous boulder obstacles, some have some very old aids that should not be trusted and a travelling line for these is recommended. There are three main features to overcome. The first is an energetic climb up a narrow rift which for the larger caver means being more exposed as you climb up and out (rope present). This is followed but a short climb down a few metres later. The next feature is an overhanging block which creates a 4m climb on its left. Footholds on this are sparse! (rope recommended). At the next bend left, Man in the Roof enters high on the right with a rope hanging down to help you access it if you choose that option. Normally Antler is followed and narrows at a calcite blockage. Here you need to go high and pass some stal to reach a rift in the floor. This becomes a 6m pitch. A chain ladder and line are rigged. Antler Passage then passes the Antlers at a corner. Urchin Oxbow on the right is reached, please do not use this route as it is taped off (but much damage has been done by the ignorant, The Urchins are all accessible from the other end of the oxbow). A small climb and short crawl then emerges into Epocalypse Passage. Head right to the Kitchen and follow a trench around a bend to where the taped path splits. To the right is a route to Urchin Oxbow. Epocalypse is followed to White Company and the route splits again. Both routes are taped and have reflective markers, these reunite at the start of Epocalypse (a lower section) near the signing in book for Daren which is down to the right. From the book, boulders are crossed to enter Jigsaw Passage with its small stream. Misfit is passed on the left and a taped route goes through a number of puddles on its way. Please keep to the tape, you will be wet soon anyway. A wriggle is passed and then a calcited choke is encountered. This is the 1984 breakthrough choke and emerges in the Old Rift Passage. Straight across and down into the undercut reaches the entrance passage. A blockage is bypassed by the second short oxbow. A junction is reached with the exit to the right. Almost straight away the calcite squeezes are encountered before easier going quickly covers a good distance. The passage gets smaller as the Dry Way enters from the left and more squeezes and crawls leads onwards to the Vice. Now only 80m to the exit and final wet flatout crawl.

Daren Cilau to Ogof Cnwc

From the car park, follow the track beyond the old lime kiln. A path between spoil heaps leads into the quarry. The entrance [SO 20521 15301] is situated at the base of the quarry face, at the westerly (right hand) end, with Ogof Pen Eryr at the other end. A flat-out crawl through a pool sets the scene for the 517m crawl. It starts as awkward crawling with occasional boulders to pass. The Vice is about 80m in and is a squeeze in a rift. Two main inlets are passed, the first can only be followed for a few metres before it becomes too small, another often overlooked, impassable inlet is also passed before the second inlet proper. The going eases off and stooping is possible until a series of calcite squeezes are encountered. The last of these pops out into a larger passage. Left goes via a short oxbow to a boulder floored chamber. The way out is up to the left, which emerges in the Old Rift Passage. Going left leads to a dry crystal pool and formations, but no way on. To the right leads to Old Main Chamber. The way on is straight across to a flat-out crawl into a downward choke (caution). The final drop lands on the top of a calcited ramp of boulders at the start of Jigsaw Passage. From here on in the cave, many passages are taped, so please keep inside them. Jigsaw is mainly walking but about half way along is a short squeeze, The Wriggle. Towards the end of Jigsaw is Misfit Passage on the right. Jigsaw then enters Big Chamber Nowhere Near The Entrance in an area of large boulders with the logbook straight ahead. After ascending a boulder pile, a crawl on the left enters Epocalypse Way. The crawl at the start quickly opens up into walking passage with a choice of ways which later reunite as it becomes an easy walking passage. Soon the White Company is seen on the left with other formations. A choice of taped routes along this wide passage passes Urchin Oxbow, which has delicate formations. The end of this oxbow is barred by tape. The two taped routes unite and a trench develops in the floor. In the side of the trench are selenite crystals growing from the mud. A small stream is met flowing across the passage at The Kitchen. From The Kitchen the passage rises up a boulder slope. To the left is the entrance to Antler Passage, while ahead leads to crawls. Antler Passage is entered via a crawl to a short climb down or a lower crawl through boulders on the left, into an easy walking passage. On the left Urchin Oxbow is passed, beyond is a climb up. The passage undulates, and passes the Antlers on the left, to a right-angled bend. This corner is supposedly the closest point to Ogof Craig A Ffynnon, but it is totally calcited up. A 6m chain ladder climb up leads to a traverse into a boulder floored passage and a bend to the right, this is where Man In The Roof enters. Continuing up Antler, another climb is encountered, a 4m overhang around a large block (rope recommended). Another rope climb up and down are come across during this boulder section. Antler ends in a large choke with the stream emerging from the right. This is followed up into a wet choke. This emerges in a chamber with a slope up to the right where a rope is hanging (caution). This free climb and crawl then emerges in Busman’s. Heading left through chambers with a variety of routes reaches a slope up, then a climb down through boulders. Beyond the next chamber a low crawl on the right is followed. This eases off before rejoining the main passage. Head right past an oxbow and lower section before walking is regained. The passage drops and is followed up a boulder slope with the sound of water off to the right. Head left, which soon enters Price’s Prophecy, with its calcite floor. The left tape of the marked route goes off into a side passage. This indicates the way to Cnwc. The side passage reaches a choke and is passed by a crawl to the base of a scaffolded shaft. Near the top a ramp down enters a crawl which passes a squeeze and a bend before reaching a chamber. Here a 2m climb enters another crawl to the logbook and the exit down to the right. The gate does not require a key to exit.