[wcg logo]

Home Page

Back to Xmas Cave Index

Content and images
© WCG 2003-2015

Click images to enlarge
Last Changed: 26/1/2015

E-mail webmaster

Powered by Apache

Site driven by NetBSD

Trip to Xmas Cave (Ogof Nadolig) -- 29th Jan 2007

Group: Paul, Mary, Dave, Graham2, Chris, Steve

We had done some tenative explorations of this cave a few weeks ago, Graham2, Louise, Paul, Dave and young Paul (6 yo) dropped down into the main passage and explored as far as the pitch to the upper series, but the lack of up gear meant that further exploration was not possible. Dave & Mary managed to prussik up the fixed rope a day later and explored the upper series, but decided not to drop into the end chamber as it looked a bit awkward and having inspected the pitch to the lower series decided it needed a bolt installing so it could be laddered safely.

The present trip saw over half of WCG turn up at the car park near Cilcain and don oversuits and sort out batteries and belts - the latter proving a bit of challenge as Dave has forgotten to bring some of the latter...

We wandered along the banks of the River Alyn, which was still in spate, a tribute to the volume of groundwater still percolating though after heavy rain a few weeks ago. We crossed the small footbridge and then headed along and up to the entrance of Ogof Nadolig which is marked by a large pipe. There are some blue reflectors in the woods which mark out the route, but these are few and far between and really only visible from the upper track.

The entrance pitch is lined with plastic pipes which (almost) form a staircase down. At the bottom is a muddy passage containing various digging tools which ends abruptly, but just before this is a small muddy hole on the LHS can be taken. The passage is a low crawlway, complete with shallow mud pools. There is a tiny passage off on the LHS which can be ignored as it becomes impossibly narrow after a few feet. Ahead the passage opens up and the aven containing the start of the upper series is reached together with a another low crawl which leads to the lower series.

The pitch to the upper series currently has a pair of 11mm fixed ropes in acceptable condition anchored to a steel peg. The 'ferret' prussiked up one of these and fixed a ladder and safety line for the rest of the party.

The upper series consists of a low passage with some formations and some nice gour pools. There are a few high rifts which provide a break from the crawling and provide a home for the odd bat. There is a small side chamber on the LHS which is floored with boulders - this would appear to connect to a boulder ruckle seen later on the trip according to the Chris Cowdery's survey sketch. Further on the passage reaches the terminal chamber near the roof. It is not practical to descend at this point, but a small passage a little way back on the RHS drops into a small pool and thence a short passage enters the chamber at a more acceptable height. Great care needs to be taken to keep to the RHS as there is a drop of over 10' into hole at the bottom of the chamber.

The chamber is reasonably spacious and the eyehole in the roof is clearly visible. On the floor are two passages, one (on the LHS facing the eyehole) leads to a 20' vertical shaft containing a maypole. The top of the shaft is sealed with a locked lid :-(

The RHS passage drops down to a small chamber which is the scene of some serious digging on two levels. The lower level seems to be into mud, while the upper level seems to be into solid rock. There is a bit of draught and so we guess this provides the incentive...

We retreated (slowly with a party of this size) back to the ladder pitch, derigged and crawled through the passageway to the lower series. This is quite tight just as it opens into the chamber containing the drop to the lower series and care must be taken to keep to the RHS. The chamber has a passage ahead leading to a boulder ruckle which probably would join up with the aforementioned chamber in the upper series.

The passage down to the lower series has a couple of loose scaffold poles, and a careful inspection showed a short sloping passage followed by a vertical drop. As there were no really safe anchor points so an 8mm split was installed to provide an anchor for a ladder and safety line with a scaffold pole as a (dubious) backup. The ladder run was OK apart from it running tight against the sloping passage till it dropped clear about 10' from the floor. From here a slightly awkward climb down led to the bottom the chamber and two low passages; one led to a mud floored rift with a dead end and the other could be followed upwards though varying consistencies of mud to another dead end.

We headed up and derigged, the crawl though the tight hole back to the aven proving a bit of a challenge to some members of the party. We sorted out the gear and climbed back out of the pipes into twilight and a 3/4 mile walk along the track back to the cars.

Everyone enjoyed the upper series, however the lower series is definately for mud lovers only - we took quite a bit of it out of the cave on the equipment and oversuits...

Overall trip time almost 6 hours by the time we were back in the car park.