Westminster Spelæological Group

Cave Exploration and Investigation

President: Toby Clark esq.

Newsletter No. 2003/1 January 2003

This newsletter is published for the dissemination of information and is copyright ©WSG 2003. Articles are the copyright of the respective authors. If you wish to reproduce any part, please include the source.

Headquarters - Caerllwyn Cottage Halt Road Rhigos ABERDARE CF44 9UW Tel:01685 811080 http://www.wsg.org.uk

The Club meets on first and third Tuesday of the month at: Ship & Shovell bar, Craven Passage WC2. (Off Villiers Street under Charring Cross station) Normally from 7:45pm onwards.

The Neath Valley in spate at Cwm Pwll y RhydLeft: - The Neath in spate at Cwm Pwll y Rhyd (Click to enlarge in new window).

Editorial: Happy New Year!

Extra pages this time in order to publish stuff on the PMMS. Keep the articles coming! If you've a picture you'd like to see on the front cover, let me have it.

This web version is a bit of an experiment - please let me have any comment or criticism, particularly on how it may be made more useful. Cheers, Graham.

The caving calendar is on the main website. http://www.wsg.org.uk. Follow 'Club Meets' and 'Online Diary'. Members can access further information from the 'Members Only' part of the website. Follow 'Diary Dates' to check it out or 'Club Diary' to make changes/bookings for events

Contact mail addresses for the club officers can be found on the main website under 'Contacts'.

The cottage can be booked on line at www.wsg.org.uk ... click 'Cottage' then click 'Book Cottage'. There is also a multimap button to locate Caerllwyn.


Index to content:

Club News

Virtual Caving

Chairman's Words

Library Additions

The Virtual Logbook

News from Abroad


Girl On Girl Boxing - Toby Hamnett

Six Degrees of Separation - Brian Bowell

The WSG in Ireland - 2002 - Pete Jurd

Some further hypotheses concerning the drainage of the Pant Mawr, Nedd Fechan, Mellte, Hepste and Cynon regions. Part 5: Cwm Cadlan, Mynydd y Garn, and Cadair Fawr - John Wilcock

A comparison of theories about the Pant Mawr Master System - Toby Clark

Last Gasp


Club News.

Breakthrough in Price's Dig ... (e-mail from Chris Smartt, originating with Robin Weare of the Hades…)

Face the Darren entrance turn left and walk along the quarry face for about 650m and you will perhaps find Price's Old Dig. This is not the one near Pen Eryr, which is Price's New Dig. The Old Dig was started back in the early fifties (long before Daren, Aggy or Craig a Ffynnon were found) by a man (Brian Price) who was certain there was a big cave under the mountain. He dug it for about 10 years, eventually reaching a boulder choke about 100m in. The choke has been dug on and off since by the Chelsea (draughting well - I heard earlier this year) and the breakthrough came last week, over 50 years after it was started. And the man was right - there is a lot of cave behind. It connects with Busman's Holiday and the through trip from there goes out of the normal entrance via Antler Passage and Apocalypse Way. I'm told by someone much younger and fitter than me that it took him about 4 hours so I would hope to manage in 5. A word of caution to anyone who is inclined to rush up there and do the trip. The use of the word Holiday must have been someone's idea of a joke. A visit to that end of the cave normally stops at the start of Antler Passage (about half way) because to go beyond is a very serious undertaking. Unless you are an experienced Daren visitor I strongly suggest that you only go with someone who is and even then be very careful of the ropes in Antler which, to say the least, are dodgy.

The short round trip in Swildons Hole is once again possible after a concerted effort to get a revised bailing system for the mud sump operational - see the caving calendar!

Club Archives - If you have any records of club activities, be they log books, notes, pictures, cine films etc. the club is actively seeking to enhance the club's holdings with a view to updating the media on which said articles are stored. We have recently had the offer of an 8mm cine film from the 1979 WSG Greece expedition. Please let Matthew know what you have.

The Library Catalogue has recently been updated and is now on the club website.

The prestigious position of Caving Secretary has at last been filled by none other than Pete Jurd, well-known speleoplod. His contact details can be found on the main website. Let him know what trips you want to do.

The club normally publishes an Address List in January. As the info is now on the website, it is felt that this is somewhat superfluous. If you are unable to access the list or would like a copy, please let Jeanette know - her address is on the main website.

Please take care with the spare gas tap in the kitchen at Caerllwyn. It was inadvertently opened with a somewhat spectacular result when an ignition source was offered up to one of the hobs…

The long awaited Bulletin should be with you soon. (I know you've heard that one before!).

The Bonfire weekend back in November saw John Wilcock back in dowsing action. Read his findings further on. The weekend could have been a damp squib for a number of reasons. In the end, it was decided that we'd not let any fireworks off, mainly due to the local council's requirement that all 'organised and group displays' be pre-arranged. Palatte Jenga - Adcock prepares to launch the last one.....To meet these requirements we'd have had to fill out the necessary form a few weeks in advance. Of course, we knew nothing about this until we spoke to Beryl and Keith at the 'Red. There was a reputed £1000 fine for offenders. We looked at teaming up with SWCC and the Croydon (who kindly invited us over) but in the end, the desire to consume Martin and Sarah's fantastic meal (and the fact that it was pissing down outside) won. However, once the rain eased off, we had a good bonfire and a singing session and I think everyone enjoyed themselves. The fireworks may have been put on hold, but a new game of Palette 'Jenga' was invented before they were finally burnt.

Derek Fincham has moved. See the main website for his address. He phoned Toby (from his lorry on the way to Colchester) and wants to be remembered to everybody. He's been fully occupied moving to Yorkshire where he has 9 acres and a farmhouse. Pat has moved in with her horses but he is still finalising disposal of his house in Swanley. He is moving up there soon and has a promise of a job transfer to Wakefield depot. Once settled he will get involved in club activity again.

Court Circular… Our Chairman and his good lady wife (I can say that now) were married in Scotland on Christmas Eve whilst on holiday. Phil and Ian were away with them but knew nothing of the nuptials until Julia handed them a box of confetti. Congratulations to both Jerry and Julia.

Tim Barter Writes…Pauline is expecting a baby in March 2003 ... (Hot gossip). No one at the conference spotted the bump! If any one is wanting to climb/walk in Snowdonia, that we are keen to see visitors at our new 5-bedroom abode in sunny Llandudno.


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Virtual Caving - (Let your fingers do the walking, crawling, grunting etc.).

http://www.ogof.net Revised site for the OFD1 and Top Entrance OFDII Virtual Tour - brilliant!

http://www.showcaves.com/english/explain/Index/index.html From Al Taylor.

http://www.caves.org/ is the website of the NSS in the USA

http://www.caves.org/imo/frames1.htm - Inner Mountain Outfitters. Loads of goodies!

If you come across an interesting site, send me the URL and I'll post it here. Ed.

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Chairman's words.

Jerry Complin - Hon. Chairman, 3rd January 2003.

A happy New Year to you all and happy caving this year.

Most of you will be aware of the problems at the cottage late last year with a gas tap that had inadvertently been opened. It is a problem which is going to be reviewed during the weekend of Phil's birthday bash, 18/19 January and all interested parties are welcome to the discussion especially trustees and committee members. The discussions will be a precursor to the committee meeting during the weekend of 8/9 February and any constructive comments on not only the future of the cottage as a whole but of any aspect of it will be welcomed. I am particularly interested to hear newer members' thoughts on the proposed extension for which we got planning permission some years ago. Is it something that you would wish to work towards achieving? One further overriding concern is the extent or adequacy of our insurance cover on the cottage and it is something that I am in the process of reviewing. Given the increased premiums (particularly on the BCRA policy) and the risk for being sued for any accident, no matter how minor, we have to be very much more careful to ensure that we have public liability cover and that we minimise the potential for any claim at all. Any claim for which we are not insured would have a very damaging effect on the club indeed, and not one that I would wish to contemplate. Sorry for these less than sanguine words to start the year, but don't let me stop you enjoying the caving and the cottage since there is much to look forward to particularly with the planned trip to France in the summer.

From the virtual Logbook…..Toby Clark - 11th October 2002… A party comprising two Tobys, Louise (Toby's dentist) Dave, Chris, Alys, Jon, Sarah and Rosie (Sarah's daughter) all set forth in fine spirits on a pleasant morning. Trident and Judge were duly reached and had respects paid to them. Toby the Elder turned back with Rosie (first trip) at the top of Maypole inlet, the rest from most of the way up the streamway because Louise became fatigued. But a successful and enjoyable day was declared by all. On Sunday it rained with morale-sapping malevolence so that an assault on the 18th Hole was abandoned when midday had come and nobody had actually put their noses outside Caerllwyn. However, we have acquired a decent supply of scaffolding and all is set for the next push.

What's Brian Bowell been up to? ... No fireworks this weekend. But the one after is the annual All Comers Waitomo Raft Race, BBQ & Piss-Up. Competitors make their own craft and then race down river for 8Km trying to capsize opponents and stay afloat them selves. The race ends at Te Anga where, wouldn't you know it, there's a pub! After a few beers it's back to the HTG hut in Waitomo for a BBQ and barrel jointly funded by Paddy and me to celebrate our birthdays. Last weekend was the annual get together of cavers from all over NZ. The AGM of the NZ Speleo Soc. and a dinner. Four HTG members went in disguise. A Nun, a French Maid, a Nurse and a Tart all cycled through Waitomo stopping the traffic and bringing the red necks out of the pub and reaching for their guns. What is it about cavers that leaves them prone to cross dress at the drop of a hat? Oh, and I won the photo competition. BrianB 30/10/02.

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Domestic Publications:

Chelsea Speleological Society Newsletters: - Vol.44 No.10 October 2002 - Vol.44 No.11 November 2002 - Vol.44 No.12 December 2002

Craven Pothole Club “Record” No.68 October 2002

Grampian Speleological Group Bulletin Vol.1 No.3 October 2002

Wealden Cave & Mine Society Issue 47 November 2002

Wessex Cave Club Journal Vol.26 No.282 December 2002-(Inc. N/L Supplement October.2002)

Foreign Publications:

Speleologia (Italy) Anno XXIII Giugno 2002


“Speleological Abstracts”-2000 (No.39), (CD-Rom No.6 contains Speleological Abstracts No.39 and the catalog of the Swiss Speleological Library.

Matthew Setchfield (Librarian)

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WSG - Girl on Girl Boxing Action - Toby Hamnett.

From the usual promising start of the email dropping onto my cyber-doormat arose the opportunity to look into a system I had been meaning to get around to getting into for a couple of years - Box Stone Mines. A few phone calls later and Sarah Payne and Alys Vaughan Williams joined me for the first round in the Hunters as we awaited Steve Weston.

Beer was drunk and back at the Wessex, Steve produced, magically, a bottle of Jack Daniels. Pouring hefty measures into coffee mugs we sat back to watch the traditional October entertainment played out in caving huts the country over - student clubs and their Fresher trips. These young fine and fit flowers of the UK's caving youth drank, shouted, squeezed, dangled and generally made the sort of a*ses of themselves that it takes the more experienced of us at least two more pints of scrumpy to do… marvellously entertaining.

The following morning we set out for Box. The less geographically challenged of you may have noted that Box is a fair old way from Mendip... some may say it is probably quicker and closer to drive there straight from London. To those critics I say this: Somerset and Wiltshire are fine for a day's drive and we would have missed some of the best navigation Sarah has produced since her demonstration of "OFD2 and How it Relates to the Survey" trip earlier this year. She was doing fine … right upto the point she fell asleep!

Having obtained permission and a pint from the Quarryman's Arms we set out into Box Stone Mines. For those of you who have yet to see these fine examples of the endeavours of man to retrieve bits of rock from amongst other bits of rock it is difficult to conceive the complexity and possibility of getting instantly and irretrievably lost. Clutching three different surveys as we entered we realised that we would have to follow the written descriptions constantly and to the letter to avoid being in this complex of 35 miles of heavily intersecting and similar passages until the bonfire weekend. The going was generally easy with flat floors in passages of 2 or 3 metres across and high. The full caving kit can be left behind and replaced by a furry and polycotton overalls. On this trip we were denied the views of much of the industrial archaeology that is reputedly down there but I was fascinated by scale of stone mining and the effort of work required to build the architectural beauty of such as Bath. After two hours and only one navigational moment of mild distress we emerged to catch Stonehenge by sunset on the way home.

Box Mines provide a valuable insight into the work that has gone on in Wiltshire over the centuries and was of a length that made the trip worthwhile, I thoroughly recommend a trip. If your interest is less in scale but more toward the industrial archaeology then you may consider Swan Mines nearby; far shorter but far richer in terms of tools, cranes and ease of understanding how the stone was mined. As for the title of this report… in addition to allowing an easy pun, I recommend you ask Steve to see his photos of Alys and Sarah as they slug it out deep in the mine…. who says the students should have all the fun?

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Six Degrees of Separation - Brian Bowell.

Recently, one evening at the HTG hut, in the vacuum between caving and the pub I was reading through the 1972-76 editions of the New Zealand Speleological Society Bulletin. Browsing the index I came across a familiar name - Logan Fow.

Back in the days, Logan fetched up in the Long Acre pub that WSG frequented. He wore a ripped t-shirt and shorts and he was driving a Ferrari! Not the common or garden Dino model, but a bright yellow Testarossa a real Ferrari. He was around for a while and then returned home.

Since I've been living here his name has crossed my path several times. There is a 'Logan Fow Aviary' at Hamilton Zoo, and some classic car nuts I met in a Raglan bar remembered him fondly.

I was taken by the fact that he has been a member of both WSG and HTG both clubs I belong to. Below is an appreciation of Logan from the NZSS Bulletin. It may cause some of the membership to remember him fondly. Thanks to the NZSS for permission to reproduce the article below.

Logan Fow (by Peter Dimond)

Logan Fow was born in Hamilton in 1937 and has lived there except for two years at Wanganui Collegiate School. After leaving school he indulged in several occupations: including shop assistant, guide at Waitomo Caves, Post Office Clerk and press photographer. Ten years ago, he married Pamela Watson, a member of N.Z.S.S. They now have five children, three of whom have been caving with dad.

Logan FowLogan decided to go to Waikato University where he read Geography and English. From there he went to Hamilton Teachers College to earn a teachers certificate. Teaching has since been his career, except for four months taken off to set up an opportunity shop for the Methodist Church, and a period working for the Lands and Survey Department operating their Photostat machine. Logan has the most enthusiastic class of standard one caving experts in New Zealand.

The church has always played an important part in Logan Fow^ life. He is a member of the Methodist Church and for some years has taught Sunday School and represented his church at synods and conferences.

lan Sandford introduced Logan to caving in 1958 when they went with a party to Karamu cave, and because a rather large lad could not get through the bird cave, Logan and party had to make three trips through the cave. After trips to Tomac Tomo and Gardners Gut he joined Hamilton Tomo Group and has been a strong supporter of the group ever since. Over the years he has edited the 'Griff', the club newsletter, been club captain, and represented the group on N. Z.S. S. council and the Waikato Museum Council. Also he has edited the Tomo Times, the newsletter of N. Z.S.S. Although he has caved in both Islands most of his activity has been in the Waitomo Area and the Raglan Hills. Some notable achievements are the 172 hours he spent in Gardners Gut with Van Watson and Max Oettli carrying out a temperature survey, and his continued Interest with his long-range temperature survey in Reserve Cave.

His most memorable achievement was coming out of Harwoods Hole by winch, where he almost slipped through the harness on the chair on the way up and had to hang on for his life during the slow 200 metre trip to the top He has always been a keen photographer and was the first person to win the N.Z.S.S. Photographic trophy.

Other interests include yachting, motor racing and more recently kite flying. He is the proud owner of a Ferrari, the fastest road car in New Zealand, for which he holds several sports car records for sprints and hill climbs. Kite flying is now taking up much of Logan's time including being secretary of New Zealand's only kite flying club. One thing he does not like, and that is gardening.

His main ambitions are taking his Ferrari to England to enter it in vintage races, to visit Metro cave, and have his own caving club in his family. Logan is well known for his hospitality, whether it's a meal, a space for a sleeping bag for the night or a cup of coffee and gingernuts. Any Friday night will find a large gathering of cavers at Pam and Logan' s home discussing the latest in caving.

Logan is one of the best known and most colourful characters in New Zealand.

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WSG: Ireland 2002 - Pete Jurd.

In the dim and distant past, long before Estelle Morris took the courageous decision to quit, a fabled group of explorers from Westminster (well, in actual fact none of them came from Westminster at all and the modal origin of the alliance was Goring on Thames, but the GoTSG just doesn't have the same ring) set out for the Emerald Isle. They were armed with the tools of their trade: Rope, Karabiner, Neoprene and Polyvinyl chloride. Their mission was to explore the caves of Fermanagh and Cavan and to have 'a nice holiday'. Our intrepid leader, Martin, (who had booked a hut in these lands and was our ready and willing guide) wrought the action packed week that followed.

It started on the Friday - I, having recently returned from discovering caves in Spain, was ready for a new challenge. Meeting up with Phil and Ian in their house proved to be just this. It takes considerable skill to walk through their house without leaving smudge marks on the pristine walls or floors. And woe-betide any man who coffee-ring stains their work-surfaces…

Later that night we had made it to Caerllwyn where we stayed over. I would have written that we slept the night there but Mark and Nick were snoring far too loudly for that. Next morning it was up bright and early for the run to the ferry. Unconfirmed rumours have it that Mark may have broken the speed limit at times. I find this unlikely as such an event would have caused Elliott to get so overexcited that he would have exploded, rupturing the very fabric of space-time and thus destroying the whole universe.

At the terminal our speed proved unnecessary as the ferry was delayed. Many, many hours later we arrived in Ireland. We set off for Fermanagh. At approximately this time Martin was sitting down for his first Drink. Six hours later we arrived…

The cottage was lovely and Sarah's family stayed for the first night. I was a little tired and so went to bed early in anticipation of the following day…

Day 1: Prod's Pot. This cave was bottomed by myself, Phil, Sarah and Martin. With our usual level of foresight and planning we had forgotten (Martin), or never knew (the rest of us), where the cave entrance was. After time (as my pupils say: it is a colloquial expression implying and extremely long period) we found a hole and I went down it. No hangers or bolts; wrong hole. The next one proved right. A tight rifty cave went down and a random assortment of P-hangers and bolt-holes. Sarah had a great deal of fun at the top of the final pitch but finally we were all at the bottom. Only in Ireland could you have a cave with sections called 'Atheist's arse-hole' and the 'James Connelly Memorial Pillar'. Sarah and I also popped up to look at the 'Sacred Bleeding Heart'. Phil enjoyed de-rigging, especially the last rift where the cave consumed one of his knee-pads.

Day 2: Pollnatagha - Pollprughlisk. After a pleasant walk onto the top of the moor I rigged one while Martin took Elliott on his first SRT trip down the other. The plan was for Phil and I to do the through trip while Martin and Elliott dropped a rope down the far pitch. With impressive precision we made it through the subterranean labyrinth but did not spot a rope. After a ridiculous squeeze we gave up. After thrutching backwards for several minutes I realised that I had lost my knife and mars-bar on the far side of the squeeze. If anyone wants them they are still there… It transpired that the others had run out of rope and that we had passed their pitch and continued on to the grade 4, 3 and 2 surveyed passage. All in all, a great trip, the day-lit shafts are a sight to behold indeed!

Day 3: A bimble around Marble Arch. Nothing too strenuous, just a potter around this distinctly Welsh looking cave. We were not allowed to use the wet entrance as we had no buoyancy aids. Poo.

Day 4: Pollnatagha - Pollprughlisk. Others did other things on this very wet day but I had found a female to go caving with! I suspect that she is totally mad, so we made a good team. The first entrance was impassable, a real contrast to two days previously. The other entrance was 'sporting'. We rigged down to where Phil and I had been before (now a raging lake of foam) and out again for tea and medals.

Day 5: I took a break from it all and failed to go surfing. Nice scenery and the life-guard was alright…

Day 6: Noon's hole. Having been stood up by the 'mad old lady' (she did not like the look (or smell?) of Sarah, who can blame her?) I was on a mission and rigged down in double quick time with absolutely no spare rope and Sarah and Phil were hot on my heels (well almost). A really nice pot which would be great as a first rig. At the bottom I had a play around in the stream (all Irish caves require you to get your feet wet) and then we made our way out. That is my story. Other things happened: cycling and walking, pubs, birthday parties and the movement of sheep. For some reason though, these parts remain less clear. I think it might have had something to do with the black liquid that people kept thrusting into my hand at every opportunity… Post Script. The ferry was delayed on the way back too, Que supprise!

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Editor's note: Some of the diagrams in the following articles have been reduced in size. Click on the image to open full size in a new window or right click and select "save as" to download. The files are approx. 100k bytes and in .JPEG format. Alternatively, full-size versions of the articles can be obtained from me in either electronic or printed formats.

Some further hypotheses concerning the drainage of the Pant Mawr, Nedd Fechan, Mellte, Hepste and Cynon regions. Part 5: Cwm Cadlan, Mynydd y Garn, and Cadair Fawr - John Wilcock


Some discussion on previous work and publications concerning the regions in question, stretching from Pant Mawr in the west across the catchments of the rivers Nedd Fechan, Mellte and Hepste to Cynon and Cwm Cadlan in the east, has been summarised in four articles that appeared in the April 2000 issue of the WSG Newsletter (Wilcock, 2000 (Parts 1 & 2)), the July 2001 WSG Newsletter (Wilcock, 2001 (Part 3)), and the July 2002 WSG Newsletter (Wilcock, 2002 (Part 4)).

The Bonfire Weekend presented itself as the next occasion when I could do dowsing work. The weather was foul, but the flood conditions made the dowsing detection very effective, and the weekend was surprisingly productive.

Summary of work to November 2002

The following discussion is based on further dowsing work. The three maps are intended to accompany and to be part of the discussion.

Cwm Cadlan

The earlier dowsing work in Cwm Cadlan (Wilcock, 2002) did not connect Ogof Fawr (SN 985096), the sink for the considerable Nant Cadlan stream flowing off Pant Sychbant, with the Llygad Cynon resurgence (SN 952078) at 219m altitude, nor with the flood resurgence in a dry valley at SN 953078 at 221m altitude. However, a dye test in June 1972 by Bill Gascoine (Gascoine, 1989) did show dramatically that Ogof Fawr resurges at Llygad Cynon. A borehole near the resurgence located a phreas at a depth of 55m, i.e. 164m OD, from which about five million litres of water per day is extracted to supply the Penderyn Reservoir north of Figure 1 - Click to enlargeFigure 1 - click to enlargeHirwaun; nine days after the fluorescein dye had been injected at Ogof Fawr the water from the pumping station turned bright green, and the Penderyn Reservoir was put out of action for three days.

It was therefore necessary to connect the previous dowsing traces with both of the Llygad Cynon resurgences, and also to explain the two isolated "dead ends" found near the valley by the previous work.

Referring to Figure 1, from the Llygad Cynon main (SN 952078) and flood (SN 953078) resurgences a trace was followed NE until it reached the fault at SN 961089. Here the trace abruptly turned SE along the fault to link in with the previous trace at SN 962087. This therefore made the desired connection between Ogof Fawr and Llygad Cynon. On the way back a branch was found at SN 955084 that connected to the previously-found dead end near Bodwigiad (SN 954083). It is postulated that both this dead end at 250m altitude, and the previously-found dead end at SN 956077 at 244m altitude, are former resurgence passages aligned to a higher level of the Cynon. The river has now cut down, leaving the dead ends "airborne".



Mynydd y Garn

Next, attention was given to two empty blocks of limestone, with no known caves. The first of these, Mynydd y Garn,Figure 2 - Click to enlargeFigure 2 - Click to enlarge is bounded by Ffynnon Garreg Fawr on the NW, Llynnau'r Waun (NE), Llygad Hepste Fechan (E), Moss Risings (SE), the upper Hepste (S), and Garreg Lwyd (SW), about 6 km2 in area (see Figure 2). The dominant feature is the moorland of Mynydd y Garn, with a large "Area of Shake Holes" marked on the OS map. There are two obvious risings, to the south Blaen Hepste Resurgence (SN 961128), and to the west Ffynnon Garreg Fawr (SN 937138).

Starting from Ffynnon Garreg Fawr, the trace first headed NE, but surprisingly it was then found not to head for a series of shake holes at Twyn Croes Gwallter (SN 948146), as had previously been supposed. Instead it turned abruptly through 160 degrees to head SSW, roughly parallel and to the east of the Penderyn - Mellte Castle road. Crossing this road, and entering an area of shake holes centred on SN 936130, the trace then turned SE through a wood, finally passing across the junction of the Mellte Castle and Ystradfellte roads to reach Pwll Derw (SN 94131235). Thus, somewhat surprisingly, the source of the waters at Ffynnon Garreg Fawr is postulated to be the flooded pothole of Pwll Derw.

Obviously, much more work needs to be done on this blank area of limestone, and the next object of attention must be the Blaen Hepste Resurgence.




Cadair Fawr

Figure 3 - click to enlargeFigure 3 - click to enlargeThe second of the two empty blocks of limestone is Cadair Fawr, bounded by Moss Risings on the NW, Nant Cadlan (S), Sycamore Grove (E), and Pant y Gader (NE), about 6 km2 in area (see Figure 3). There is one obvious rising, Moss Risings (SN 96981328), altitude 328m and a "Swallow Hole" at 397m altitude (SN 986109) near the Penderyn - Llwyn-on road, prominent enough to be marked on the OS map. There are five areas of shake holes marked on the OS map (see Figure 3), several large isolated shake holes, some stream risings, and several small limestone quarries to the south of the Penderyn - Brecon road.

The Moss Risings System (Ogof Aber Cwrier) was found to lie to the north of the Penderyn - Brecon road, to the north of the Powys boundary sign. Heading ENE from the risings, the area is large and waterlogged, with at least four active stream sinks (the largest are shown on Figure 3).

The swallow hole at SN 986109 was found to be full of standing water, with at least two inflowing streams. Obviously outflow is restricted, and no outflow was detected by dowsing, although it might be masked by one of the inflowing streams.

Clearly, much more work needs to be done on this blank area of limestone, but the line of attack is not obvious.


All of the above results are naturally hypotheses that are entitled to stand until disproved. My technique is to publish and be damned. However, my dowsing work has had several successes proved by later exploration by cavers.


Gascoine, W. 1989. The hydrology of the limestone outcrop north of the Coalfield. In Ford, T.D. (ed.) 1989, Limestones and caves of Wales, British Cave Research Association, Cambridge University Press, Cwm Cadlan and Penderyn, 48-49.

Wilcock, J.D. 2000. Some further hypotheses concerning the drainage of the Pant Mawr, Nedd Fechan, Mellte, Hepste and Cynon regions. Part 1 and Part 2. Westminster Spelaeological Group Newsletter 2001, April 2000, 7-12

Wilcock, J.D. 2001. Some further hypotheses concerning the drainage of the Pant Mawr, Nedd Fechan, Mellte, Hepste and Cynon regions. Part 3, Work to November 2000. Westminster Spelaeological Group Newsletter 2001/2, July 2001, 5-7

Wilcock, J.D. 2002. Some further hypotheses concerning the drainage of the Pant Mawr, Nedd Fechan, Mellte, Hepste and Cynon regions. Part 4, Pant Mawr Moor and Cwm Cadlan, Westminster Spelaeological Group Newsletter No. 2002/3 (July 2002), 5-6

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A comparison of theories about the Pant Mawr Master System - Toby Clark

Andy Ive's 'Dolen Yngholl' - the missing link theory was published in WSG Bulletin Vol9 No4 1989 and Dr John Wilcock's dowsing results and accompanying articles in various more recent WSG newsletters. It should be noted that Andy's earlier work (Pwll Pindar had not been discovered) was basically proactive and John's reactive, i.e. based on his direct observations.

In Andy's words:

'The Dolen Yngholl project started by looking at everything that had been written on the subject, all maps, water tracing results, geological studies etc. My preliminary studies had me looking at the cave and its resurgence. I then looked at the geology of the whole area, until I suddenly realised that the answer lay in looking at OFD, Pant Mawr and the Neath River caves as a single entity and by a series of assumptions and comparisons I arrived at the theory of the master system.'

His description of the development of the system follows:

Pant Mawr Pothole entrance pitch, Dead End passage, due east to Neath Valley, south to Sand Cavern and south to LNRC to a point to resurge at the Mellte. (South of the existing sump 8 in LNRC) . Glacial infill followed and can still be seen in Dead End passage and Sand Chamber LNRC. When the system was reinvaded, the LNR had already downcut, truncating the system and the invading river migrated down dip to resurge at Cwm Hew Bwub. Further migration at this point has taken the river down to Ogof Cas and more recently to Rl.

When LNRC was reinvaded, the river picked up a new route to resurge at R2 and Pwll Ddu perhaps travelling south before turning NW again.

But what of OFD ? There may have been a connection here, but as it is removed by glaciation, the question will probably remain unanswered.

The original cave is in two parts possibly with a blocked connection. I would dig into the hillside on the west bank of the Neath between BNI and CG farms.

We did start digging here in 1984 and two small draughting caves have been unsuccessfully dug. The farmer told us of a cave he saw above the landslide since filled in. Perhaps the answer lies beneath the rubble of the landslide. Why indeed did the landslide occur ?

OverlayOverlay - click to enlarge in new window then right click to download higher resolution image (240k) if requiredSince the article was written:

A sink hole on the hillside above the landslide opposite BNI farm was dug in earth on all 4 sides to a depth of 17 feet into water. It has since been filled in;

The stream opposite BNI was probed by a joint Unit2/WSG team revealing a bedding plane from which the stream emerges. It has not been dug since. It should be noted that no dye or spore trace has ever proved positive either here or at White Lady Cave. The catchment area and known streams could account for these features as being due to local drainage.

Sarn Helen Sinks take 2 days to drain to R1, showing a constricted zone between them and the nearby 18th Hole. There may not be a connection to the Master System at all.

Dowsing by John Wilcock indicates a passage running W-E from the Pwll Pindar reaction, passing under the LNR and connecting to the Hole by the Wall and thence to LNRC and eventually R2 where the spores from Ogof Cul were found. Thus it is possible that this passage takes the water from Ogof Cul. Apart from the dowsing results, the negative results from extensive spore tracing work along the LNR by Duncan Minty et al, attempting to find where the Ogof Cul water enters LNRC suggests, by difference, that it goes by this route.

John Wilcock's extensive dowsing work indicates a connection south of the 18th Hole to a N-S trace heading past Pant Mawr Pothole towards Pwll Byffre with a connection from the Organ Loft and Vestry in Pant Mawr Pothole to this trace. It has also been shown that there is a draught into the Organ Loft. This connection also trends SE towards the LNR and R1 rising.



The overlay reveals interesting comparisons:

  1. Andy predicts a complex development from the end of Pant Mawr Pothole towards the LNR, passing under Ogof Cul and 'the curious Northward trending lobe' detected by John. It could be that this complex exists and John has dowsed part of it.
  2. Andy predicts a passage to the south of the above, passing beneath Pwll Pindar and following a line close to the LNR to emerge at Ogof Cas and R1. John has found a reaction from Pwll Pindar to R1 which pretty much exactly confirms this, however he shows a more Southerly reaction to R1 and beyond with an NS connection to the 18th Hole. Note that the reaction around Pwll Pindar is complex and spreads over the area between the two, confirming my independent air movement evidence that they are linked (hence should be regarded as the 18th Hole/Pindar complex).
  3. Andy predicts two crossing points of the LNR (but dissected by truncation and the blocked ends may be found in the river banks - hence the interest in the spring opposite BNI farm). John has found one that runs from the 18th Hole/Pindar complex, under the LNR near to LNRC flood Entrance and on to the Hole by the Wall, developing much further East than Andy predicts, his assumption being that development would have followed LNRC.
  4. From LNRC Andy predicts a connection to the Mellte, and John has found evidence for this in exact parallel but with an added branch picking up the Hole by the Wall component. He has also found another trace from hole by the Wall to Porth yr Ogof following a fault line.


Seeing the two theories superimposed in one map adds enormously to our understanding of what the system looks like. It also points to further opportunities for digging and I am stimulated to propose opening a 'Second Front'.

The place to dig is in the Pindar boulder choke at the end of Bishopsgate passage. At one place close to the far end wall there is a narrow horizontal slot between two boulders which was outdraughting (along with numerous other sites in the cave) when I carried out a study there. It was the only such point within the entire choke. It is much more central to the system than the 18th Hole, offering possible connections to the Northern trending lobe (and Andy's complex of passages up to Pant Mawr Pothole), the Eastern side of LNRC and possibly even a route into the 'divers only' part of LNRC.

Congratulations are due to both Andy and John for their excellent scientific works. I am grateful to have had the opportunity of explaining the synergy between them.

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Last Gasp

Bill Brooks - It's in the eyes!(Photo)...A Brian Rix farce… ? No, none other than Bill Brooks on a banging trip up at the 18th Hole.

Toby Hamnett writes (in an e-mail) "… The CSCA are planning on booking the Berger for Aug 04. They have invited those members of the WSG as would wish to join them to start considering their holiday plans for that period. Serious classic caving and foreign travel.. is that not why we are members of one of the hardest caving clubs in London?

Writing for the Newsletter or Bulletin is simple - Just write down what you've been up to lately - in any format, then send it to me! Cheers, Graham.




Copy deadline for the next issue is 4th April 2003. Thanks to this edition's contributors: Jerry Complin, Toby Clark, John Wilcock, Chris Smartt, Matthew Setchfield, Brian Bowell, Toby Hamnett, Pete Jurd Your name could should be here!