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Westminster Spelæological Group

Cave Exploration and Investigation

President: Toby Clark esq.

Newsletter No. 2003/3 July 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. Opinion expressed is that of the author and not necessarily that of the WSG.

Headquarters - Caerllwyn Cottage, Halt Road, Rhigos, ABERDARE. CF44 9UW Tel:01685 811080 Website:

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.

WSG earns a medal! The other day a small and unusually heavy package arrived through the post. It turned out to be a Queen's Golden jubilee medal and most impressive it is. A number of these medals are being distributed to the voluntary rescue organisations in commemoration of their contribution to the national search & rescue services. As such it is a considerable honour to the cave rescue community and I have accepted it, wearing the presidential hat on behalf of WSG's support for cave rescue. We can feel proud. I will ensure that it is brought to the next AGM and Dinner for all to see. Perhaps members would like to come up with suggestions as to how best we may use it - e.g. it could be awarded annually for the most conspicuous contribution to rescue. Toby. (Click photo to enlarge in new window).

Editorial: Full again this quarter. Club subs are now (over) due. Jeanette would love to hear from you. We still distribute some photocopied postal versions. If you'd like to take your newsletter in glorious colour via the web, please let me know. Enjoy the summer…Cheers, Graham.

The caving calendar is on the main WSG website. 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 ... click 'Cottage' then click 'Book Cottage'. There is also a multimap button to locate Caerllwyn.




Index to content:

Club News

Virtual Caving

Vice-Chairman's Words

Library Additions


Some further hypotheses concerning the drainage of the Pant Mawr, Nedd Fechan, Mellte, Hepste and Cynon regions. Part 6: The area between the Mellte and the Hepste to the south west of Mynydd y Garn

Meet Report: Penyghent House Pots and Penyghent House Cave

Toby's Joint airflow/dowsing with John Wilcock

Last Gasp



Club News.

Bon Voyage Jerry, Pete, Toby
Jerry goes to Scotland to pursue higher education, Pete is off to VSO in Ethiopia and Toby is off to hot and sandy places at the behest of HMG. So our ranks will be a little thin for a while.
Jerry, in particular has had a very close involvement with the club's activities over a decade and was instrumental in setting up the trustee system which has served us so well. He has been the proverbial tower of strength in all sorts of ways, from running expeditions, rebuilding various bits of the cottage, rewriting constitutions, taking various committee and trustee posts, culminating in Chairman which role he now has relinquished to Phil Mack who has kindly taken on the role for the time being.
He also served as the youngest club veteran and put in 4 years in the Veteran's Dig, sustaining injuries to his arm in the process (thankfully now recovered). He also moved more than his share of crap from the 18th Hole and reached further into it than any other person when he thrust arm and shovel to full length into a void which later collapsed. Jerry is one for whom the Earth has moved, in more ways than one and we wish him well in the continuation of his endeavours. He will return (as will Pete and Toby of course). We wish them all the very best until we meet again…..

Duncan and Rachel have moved 'round the corner'. Their new address is 9 Victoria Road, Stroud Green, London N4 3SH. Phone number unchanged.

During correspondence with Frank Darbon in Canada, he wrote: "All bulletins are arriving fine - thank you. It is great to read up on your activities, wish I could still do it myself but way past that point now. Best wishes to all in the W S G - Frank".

For those who missed Beryl and Keith's 25th anniversary celebrations at the 'Red, the following brief (!) report from Sarah, who clearly was there: "Beryl did a very sexy pole dance in the marquee around one of the centre supports to an audience - very, very, entertaining. 'Excellent night. WSG were missed and asked about".

Extreme Ironing: The best British entry in the photo contest was WSG's own domestic Icon - Adi Hooper who was third, with a picture (taken by Hugh Penney) of him ironing underground at Alum Pot in the Yorkshire Dales…..see and,,2-2003231183,,00.html

Adrian's still having a great time with Go Ape! and has moved again, his new address is: Dudd on View, Marsh Side, Kerby-in-Furness. Cumbria. LA17 7UW

Hidden Earth 2003 - change of date and venue: 3rd - 5th Oct, Upton upon Severn, near Worcester. See

RESCON03 International Cave Rescue Conference - July 21-25 2003. Venue: South Wales Caving Club, Penwyllt, South Wales.

Working weekend - 4/5/6 July and 11/12 July.
For the last few years, Caerllwyn has had a birthday sometime around July - this year was no exception - except that there were two. Friday 4th saw enthusiastic figures arriving armed with a plethora of cordless gadgets. Measurements were taken and orders on the local building supplier made. Saturday dawned early (well, it seemed early after finally getting to bed at 3am) and after brekky, activities began. Outside, the lush growth that threatened to engulf the cottage was strimmed, hacked and sawn into submission, the gatepost was replaced, the front door repaired and painted, the drying room painted, leaking bogs sorted, and paint 'touched up'. Inside, a new bench was made for the main room, the kitchen was cleaned and the crockery and cutlery culled. Upstairs, the roof lining was clad in tongue and grooved pine (making it more like a 'Swedish Sauna') and the walls were painted. A barbie on Saturday night was a welcome respite! Sunday saw more of the same. The weekend after, some of the crew returned to finish the bunkroom which is now spectacular. There are some great photos on the members' website courtesy of Phil and Al. Thanks to (in no particular order) Martin C, Martin McG, Jeanette, Ian, Phil, Toby (El Presidente with his gong), Fumpa, Alys, Sarah, Tom, Alan, Dougal, Steve, Andy, Debs and your roving reporter.

The revised WSG constitution is now available on-line. Visit the Members Only section.

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Virtual Caving - (Let your fingers do the walking, crawling, grunting etc.). for a bundle of Cuba pix. Knot primer for the 'riggingly challenged' another Cave Database

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

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Vice-Chairman's Comments - Phil Mack. As many of you would know by now, I've taken over from Jerry Complin and am now acting Chairman for the WSG. Let me first say a big thank you to Jerry and for all he's hard work over the last few years. I hope that with your help we can move the WSG forward and finally put to rest issues with the cottage. On that front many of the committee and trustees are engaged in activities now to highlight the options and the facts about the cottage and the whole insurance issues. I hope to report back to the membership very soon on all these issues. On a caving note, a France trip is planned this year for August, please contact Martin McGowan for details if you would like to come along, all are welcome. I would just like to add a big thank you to all that helped out over the working weekends. The cottage is just looking better and better. Phil. Acting Chair.

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Some further hypotheses concerning the drainage of the Pant Mawr, Nedd Fechan, Mellte, Hepste and Cynon regions.
Part 6: The area between the Mellte and the Hepste to the south west of Mynydd y Garn

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 five 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)), the July 2002 WSG Newsletter (Wilcock, 2002 (Part 4)), and the January 2003 WSG Newsletter (Wilcock, 2003 (Part 5)).
The AGM and Medieval Dinner Weekend in early April 2003 presented itself as the next occasion when I could do dowsing work. The weather was superb, and the weekend was excellently productive.
Summary of work to April 2003
The following discussion is based on further dowsing work. The accompanying map (Figure 1) is intended to be part of the discussion, and relevant sites are numbered, with site names given in the Legend. For completeness the previously found traces for the Pant Mawr Master Cave (PMMC) where it passes under the Mellte and Hepste (Wilcock, 2000, Parts 1 & 2), for the Hole by the Wall to PMMC connection (Wilcock, 2001, Part 3), and for the Hole by the Wall to Porth yr Ogof trace (Wilcock, 2001, Part 3) are also shown. The PMMC is of course much deeper than the Upper Hepste caves, but the proximity is interesting near Hepste Main Rising: any connection between Ogof Afon Hepste and the PMMC would of course be totally flooded and accessible only to cave divers.
In the Ystradfellte and Penwyllt areas the caves are formed in the Main Limestone of the Dinantian Sub-system of the Carboniferous System, spread across the Courceyan, Holkerian, Asbian and Brigantian Stages, and appearing successively from the bottom of the sequence as the Courceyan Abercriban Oolite; the Holkerian Dowlais Limestone (Cil yr Ychen Limestone); a fairly thick and pure Asbian oolite sequence above which occurs the thin Honeycombed Sandstone; and the Brigantian Penderyn Oolite Formation which is terminated by lenticular sandstone, rubbly limestone and mudstones with coal streaks. Above this in the west is the non-oolitic Penwyllt Limestone Formation, but this bed does not occur in the east, being overstepped by the Basal Grit of the Silesian Sub-system Namurian Series 1 km east of Penderyn on the south side of the Neath Disturbance, and at Cadair Fawr on the north side. Structurally the Ystradfellte area is much more complex than the areas to the west and east, being cut into narrow slices by NNW-SSE faults. The southerly dip of the limestones is about 5º, and the overlying Namurian conglomerates, grits and quartzites form uplands immediately south and west of the limestone outcrops. The primary drainage of the area is SSE from the high slopes of the Brecon Beacons into the heart of the coalfield basin, and the surface rivers progressively climb up the stratigraphic sequence, the dip being steeper than the river valleys.

Pant Mawr has its entrance on the unconformity between the Abercriban Oolite and the Dowlais Limestone, low in the sequence, but on the contrary its resurgence at R1 in the Nedd Fechan valley is in Penwyllt Limestone beds at the top of the sequence: its route must cross several faults which have pushed down progressively younger beds to the east of the faults. There is possibly a deep phreas within the Dowlais Limestone, with possible phreatic lifts up faults to a higher bed such as the Penderyn Oolite. A further phreatic lift would then be necessary to the Penwyllt Limestone from where down-dip vadose development would again become possible (or more likely most of the system is phreatic, through a completely closed system where lithology is immaterial, with a leak through the roof at the resurgence, where the passage continues under the Mellte; the route could even pass through sandstones or gritstones).

Porth yr Ogof (SN 928124) lies near the top of the Dowlais Limestone. It is a major river cave that has been known for centuries, but was first surveyed only in 1970 by UBSS. The Mellte normally sinks at the Main Mellte (Church) Sink (SN 931133) into unknown passages, the water appearing again in Porth yr Ogof after 600m. In flood conditions the river remains on the surface until it goes underground for 300m in Porth yr Ogof. The cave is an example of incision of a gorge by progressive cave collapse, as at Cvíjic in Slovenia.

Elsewhere in the Mellte/Hepste area the caves appear to have developed at or just below the unconformity between the Brigantian Penderyn Oolite and the Namurian Basal Grit. Thomas (1974) believes that the South Wales area has the best example of interstratal karst in the UK, with cave developments 10m - 30m below in the limestone leading to structural weaknesses of the overlying Basal Grit, causing large collapse dolines (bouldery or peat-floored surface depressions, some of them 100m in diameter and up to 30m depth). Near the western edge of Gweunydd Hepste are Pwll Derw and Pwll y Felin, textbook examples of stream sinks lying on the Basal Grit cover rock. Because of the presence of an impervious lining Pwll y Felin holds a more or less permanent pool on its floor. The western edge of Gwaun Cefnygarreg forms a striking local escarpment, with the uppermost 10m to 15m of the rock face composed of Basal Grit and the lowermost 15m to 20m composed of limestone. Depressions on the limestone outcrops also commonly contain blocks of Basal Grit, indicating that they were formed while there was still a grit cover. Dolines on both types of rock may also contain glacial till. To the south of the Basal Grit collapse dolines the cave development continues down dip in the limestone under the surface cover of the Basal Grit to a depth of perhaps 200m in the Dowlais Limestone (Pant Mawr is an example of this). An example of a Basal Grit collapse doline 50m in diameter and 13m in depth, probably communicating with cave passages, has already been found at SN 967091in previous work in Cwm Cadlan (Wilcock, 2002), the limestone being at 10m to 25m depth there. Conditions are ideal in South Wales for these collapse dolines to form: it has one of the highest rainfalls in Britain for a limestone area; an abrupt lithological break between the limestone and the grit; massive jointed quartzites or quartz conglomerates offering ready access for percolating waters; near-compatibility of surface slope with the dip of the underlying beds giving a slow increase in vertical thickness of the grit from a fine feather edge; and main drainage lines generally down-dip.

From Fan Fawr in the Brecon Beacons the Afon Hepste flows south and southwest to join the Afon Mellte. For 8 km it flows at or just below the top of the Main Limestone, much of its route being underground. Gascoine (1989) lists the many sinks and risings in the riverbed. Most of the passages are only accessible to divers. At Upper Hepste Main Sink (SN 954121) the river normally sinks into impenetrable fissures upstream from the short cave Ogof Glan Hepste/Tuck's Rift (SN 952118). This is a diver's cave containing 300m of passages, and the flow has been dye-traced to Hepste Main Resurgence (SN 936097) in less than 24 hours. The resurgence is a fissure in sandstone that pours water from the limestone about 1m below the riverbed. The underlying cave is a complex network of numerous sumps, extending in several directions. Ogof Tarddiant Hepste (SN 937097) has an obvious entrance beneath a waterfall, and has been known for generations. However, the main cave Ogof Afon Hepste (SN 938097) was found by WSG only in 1968. It is a major system accessible only to divers, and has been further extended by members of the CDG (UBSS, 1979). Over 900m of passages have been dived (Farr, 1989), and there are three parallel feeder streamways entering from the NNE (Waltham & Everett, 1989, after O.C. Lloyd).

Pwll Derw (SN 941124), one of the aforementioned interstratal karst collapse dolines, is a large stream sink with 15m of accessible passage, and it has also been dye-traced to Hepste Main Resurgence.

The Pwll y Felin to Blaen Hepste Resurgence System
The initial object of the weekend was to explore the empty block of limestone, with no known caves, known as Mynydd y Garn, 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 the north-eastern area of Figure 1). The dominant feature is the moorland of Mynydd y Garn, with a large "Area of Shake Holes" marked on the OS map. There are three obvious risings around this area: to the south Blaen Hepste Resurgence (SN 961128), to the west Ffynnon Garreg Fawr (SN 937138), and to the east Llygad Hepste Fechan (SN 967148). Ffynnon Garreg Fawr was first explored by SWCC in 1955 and major extensions were made in 1965. It has 450m of tight wet passages that bypass several sumps, with no sign of a larger fossil system.

In November 2002 it had been found that the source of the waters at Ffynnon Garreg Fawr was the flooded pothole of Pwll Derw (SN 942124) (Wilcock, 2003). It was obvious that much more work needed to be done on this blank area, and the next object of attention in April 2003 was the Blaen Hepste Resurgence (Figure 2). Previous exploration has found a short passage leading to Sump 1 that is 15m long, and then 15m of open passage. Sump 2 follows and has been dived for 165m. Surprisingly, dowsing has revealed this resurgence to be connected to the strange interstratal karst sinkhole of Pwll y Felin (SN 942121) (Figure 3).

Proceeding from the sink at Pwll y Felin (site 10 on Figure 1), the trace proceeds SSW and then ESE to a large depression by the Penderyn-Ystradfellte road, then continues ESE to Tir dyweunydd Sink (SN 947117) (11 on Figure 1). This is a stream sink with a large natural arch (Figure 4). Continuing NNE the trace passes through Hepste Fawr Road Sink (SN 949120) (12 on Figure 1), then continues NE along the boundary between the limestone and grit to two large depressions on the scar above Llwyn y fedwen. The first of these (13 on Figure 1) is marked on the OS map as "Fall", having a small waterfall into it from a surface stream running NW-SE (Figure 5). The second has a branch feeder to a subsidiary rising at Tirmawr (SN 958123) (16 on Figure 1). Continuing NE from the top of the scar along the limestone/grit boundary, an intermittent sink by a sheepfold is reached (14 on Figure 1), and then the trace goes ESE to Blaen Hepste Resurgence (15 on Figure 1). This is not the end, for the trace continues under the Hepste to a subsidiary rising in a boggy area just to the south of the surface river course (15a on Figure 1), which flows only in wet weather. This system thus has two risings to the south of the Hepste in addition to the main Blaen Hepste Resurgence. Such examples of flow under surface rivers are quite common.

This interesting system has at least four streams entering it from the Basal Grit, and it is clearly of some potential, with a good chance that vadose passage will be found.

The Middle Hepste System
The surface river normally sinks at Upper Hepste Main Sink (SN 954121) (17 on Figure 1). It has been found that the underground flow does not for the most part follow the normally-dry surface channel; instead it follows a course to the south of the river bed, coinciding with it only at sinks and risings. Passing through Ogof Glan Hepste (SN 953118) (18 on Figure 1), the route continues, generally well to the south of the surface route, except for coincidence with two sinks, SN 952117 and Hepste Bridge Sink (SN 947114), until the forecourt of Tal-hirion and the Ystradfellte road are passed under, 200m south of Hepste Bridge. Finally the Middle Hepste Rising (SN 943111) is reached (19 on Figure 1). This completes the system. It is clear that most of this system will be accessible only to divers.

The Pwll Derw to Hepste Main Resurgence System
Bearing in mind that Pwll Derw (SN 941124), one of the aforementioned interstratal karst collapse dolines, had been dye-traced to Hepste Main Resurgence (Gascoine, 1989), and that previous dowsing had indicated a connection between Pwll Derw (9 on Figure 1) and Ffynnon Garreg Fawr (Wilcock, 2003) (3 on Figure 1), that trace was revisited to find if a branch could be found along it which would illuminate the route to Hepste Main Resurgence. A link was indeed found commencing in the low-lying area of shake holes around SN 936130. From there the route has been found to proceed SW and then S through the conglomerate pots of Ogof Coeden Prop (SN 932123) (6 on Figure 1), Ogof Ganol (SN 933121) (7 on Figure 1) and Ogof Ffynnon Fach (SN 934120) (8 on Figure 1). It then continues SE to the course of the Afon Hepste, 300m below Middle Hepste Rising. Again, the surface course is not followed: first cutting a corner, the route goes under the surface course near Bryn-cûl and then proceeds SSE and SSW through the passages of Ogof Afon Hepste, passing Middle Hepste Main Sink (SN 939097), to reach finally Hepste Main Rising (SN 935097) (20, 21 & 22 on Figure 1). The lower part of this system will be accessible only to divers. It is possible that some of the upper part of the cave might have vadose passages, however.

Future Work
Interesting as these results are, much remains to be investigated.

Cwm Porth Farm Well Sink (SN 930121) is known to feed water into Porth yr Ogof near Sump Ten (Gascoine, 1989). Waterfall Cave (SN 929119) feeds water under flood conditions to Sumps Four and Seven in Porth yr Ogof (Gascoine, 1989). Ogof Coeden Prop (SN 932123) in the conglomerate contains 60m of passages. It was first explored by SWCC in 1947. Ogof Ganol (SN 933121) and Ogof Ffynnon Fach (SN 934120) are to the south, also in the conglomerate. The latter has 300m of loose passages that descend to a sump. It was first explored by SWCC in 1947, and SSS made major extensions in 1977 and 1978. The stream in this cave has been dye-traced to Cwm Porth Inlet in Porth yr Ogof (Gascoine, 1989). All these three caves consist of a series of blind shafts, up to 20m deep, joined by bedding planes along the conglomerate-limestone boundary, so they are roofed by the insoluble conglomerate. These caves, which contain peat stalactites and stalagmites, have a direct bearing on the hypothesis of interstratal collapse propounded by Thomas (1974), since they demonstrate that small potholes do exist beneath the Basal Grit; whether the vast limestone chambers underneath proposed by Thomas actually exist is another question. It is thus necessary to investigate the area between Porth yr Ogof and the conglomerate pots to see if the link to Sumps 4, 7 & 10 can be found.

On Gwaun Cefnygarreg, Pulpit Hole (SN 941130) lies beneath the cap of Basal Grit and is a complex of several parallel shafts up to 11m deep with a bedding plane linking them directly beneath the grit cap. Thomas also gives an example of a small open cave in Basal Grit at SN 942134 on the dip slope of Gwaun Cefnygarreg with a collapsed grit floor communicating to solution-enlarged joints in the limestone at depths of 10m to 12m. In this case the collapse does not reach the surface of the grit on the top of the escarpment.

Taking an overview, and looking again at Figure 1, it is clear that many of the postulated passages follow the faults trending NNW-SSE, with the exception of the middle Hepste valley systems, which follow either the SW-NE boundary between the Basal Grit and limestone, or are related to the surface river course at sinks and risings. From what has been seen at present, the cave development seems to be not in the exposed limestone but at the boundary between the limestone and the Basal Grit, leading to collapse dolines in the grit when the limestone is 10-30m below the surface. The caves are then to be expected to continue down-dip in the underlying limestone beneath the grit cover. Thus the grit areas of Gwaun Cefnygarreg, SW of Mynydd y Garn, and Cefn Cadlan, SW of Cadair Fawr, must be investigated for more caves of this type. This is not to say that Mynydd y Garn and Cadair Fawr should be neglected: these blank areas of limestone are to be expected to have some direct solution caves, although there are no active streams and solution would be due to percolation water only. The OS map indicates several areas of shake holes, however, which must be studied.

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.

Hole by the WallLlygad Hepste FechanFfynnon Garreg FawrMellte Main (Church) SinkPorth yr Ogof Ogof Coeden PropOgof GanolOgof Ffynnon FachPwll DerwPwll y FelinTir dyweunydd SinkLlwyn y fedwen Sink (one of two, this one marked "Fall" on the  map)Hepste Fawr Road SinkSheepfold sinkBlaen Hepste ResurgenceBlaen Hepste Resurgence overflowTirmawr RisingUpper Hepste Main SinkOgof Glan HepsteMiddle Hepste RisingMiddle Hepste Main SinkOgof Afon HepsteHepste Main RisingFigure 1.

Map of the Mellte/Hepste area and Mynydd y Garn
Key to numbered sites - See Fig. 1.
1. Llygad Hepste Fechan
2. Hole by the Wall
3. Ffynnon Garreg Fawr
4. Mellte Main (Church) Sink
5. Porth yr Ogof
6. Ogof Coeden Prop
7. Ogof Ganol
8. Ogof Ffynnon Fach
9. Pwll Derw
10. Pwll y Felin
11. Tir dyweunydd Sink
12. Hepste Fawr Road Sink
13. Llwyn y fedwen Sink (one of two, this one marked "Fall" on the OS map)
14. Sheepfold sink
15. Blaen Hepste Resurgence - 15a. Blaen Hepste Resurgence overflow
16. Tirmawr Rising
17. Upper Hepste Main Sink
18. Ogof Glan Hepste
19. Middle Hepste Rising
20. Middle Hepste Main Sink
21. Ogof Afon Hepste
22. Hepste Main Rising.



Map has hotspots - wave your mouse over the indexed points.

Click on the images below to enlarge in a new window.



Figure 2 - Blaen Hepste Resurgence Figure 4 - Tir dyweunydd Sink with its natural arch
Figure 3 - The interstratal karst stream sink Pwll y Felin Figure 5 - Llwyn y fedwen Sink (one of two, this one marked "Fall" on the OS map)

Top Left: Figure 2 - Blaen Hepste Resurgence
Top Right: Figure 4 - Tir dyweunydd Sink with its natural arch
Lower Left: Figure 3 - The interstratal karst stream sink Pwll y Felin
Lower Right: Figure 5 - Llwyn y fedwen Sink (one of two, this one marked "Fall" on the OS map)

Farr, M. 1989. Cave diving in South Wales. In Ford, T.D. (ed.) 1989, Limestones and caves of Wales, British Cave Research Association, Cambridge University Press, 102-105.

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, The Afon Hepste area; The Afon Mellte area, 49-50.

Thomas, T.M. 1974. The South Wales interstratal karst, Trans. British Cave Research Association 1(3), 131-152.

UBSS 1979. Proc. UBSS 15(2), 107-127.

Waltham, A.C. & D.G. Everett 1989. The caves of the Mellte and Hepste Valleys area (largely based on material by the late Oliver C. Lloyd). In Ford, T.D. (ed.) 1989, Limestones and caves of Wales, British Cave Research Association, Cambridge University Press, 155-164.

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, 5-7Wilcock, 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), 5-6Wilcock, J.D. 2003. 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, Westminster Spelaeological Group Newsletter No. 2003/1 (January 2003), 8-10.

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Toby's Joint airflow/dowsing with John Wilcock
Date: Sat 5th April 2003

Upper Hepste resurgence:
11am, outdraughting .2m/s through 10cm x 5cm

On rift line above farm
12noon, outdraughting .5m/s through 20cm circle

At sink with rock arch 1pm, outdraughting .2 - .3 m/s through 45cm circle (2 sites)

Air temperature was well above cave temperature.
Results repeated on Sun 6th April.

Resurgence pushed by Pete Jurd for up to 100m (guess) as a bedding plane crawl wide enough to turn round in in several places. Continues ahead and evidence of not recent digging

On rift line Shed pushed into muddy interconnected chambers but direction of airflow not determined.


Meet Report: Penyghent House Pots and Penyghent House Cave -Sunday 6th April 2003
Present: Matthew Setchfield, Bob Wilkins, Elisa Bernal

One of those lacklustre Sundays where the enthusiasm just wasn't there for the booked trip, Newby Moss Pot.

Not to be outdone, we decided that we had to do a trip and I had just the thing tucked up my sleeve for a rainy day; well it was sort of drizzling. So, off to Penyghent Gill with the idea of a quick couple of trips then off for a lunchtime pint at the Queens Arms in Litton.

We parked on the road above Penyghent Gill Pots and I asked the farmer at Penyghent House Farm for permission, which he gladly gave. I also enquired about the closing time of the Queens Arms as I began to wonder if we'd have enough time to do three caves and still make it before last orders. The farmer's cheeky reply was "…'appen, depends who's in….".

So, we changed and walked half a dozen paces to the entrance of Penyghent House Pot No.1. In fact, Bob was underground as Elisa was still getting her boots on! We watched Bob as he disappeared down a small tube only to see him re-appear again seconds later, turn around and go back in, feet first. We followed and soon understood why as the tube dropped down a 6' drop into a chamber. Elisa led from here, along a short flat our crawl that quickly expanded into a walking size rift, ending at a 25' pitch. We didn't bring tackle for the pitch as the guidebook explains that the bottom can be reached from Penyghent House Pot No.2, or so we thought! The pitch in fact looked to be excessively narrow; I squeezed along the passage to get a better view of the top but stopped within some 10' of it. A chock-stone can be seen above the drop and this would appear to be the only belay. We came out.

Penyghent House Pot No.2 saw Bob sitting on the surface and saying he'd only come underground if it was the best cave we'd ever done! So, down into the second best cave we'd ever done, this time Elisa setting off feet first. We soon stood up and followed the tiny stream to the "3m" cascade into the "roomy" chamber. From here we followed the crawl over the blocks that had fallen from the ceiling, or so the guidebook suggests, in fact there was just one boulder to crawl past. From here we became confused, as beneath the boulder is another chamber. The water flows across the floor and disappears in a tiny, cobble filled crawl. We assumed this to be as per the guidebook's description so we were confounded when we were unable to locate the rift that was supposed to connect with the pitch from No.1 pot.

We had a good look but there was no other way on. We can only assume that maybe we had not gone far enough and maybe the way on was through the crawl where the water sank but that possibly the route has been filled in with in washed cobbles over countless floods? So, back out to find Bob, still squatting above the entrance.

Over the road, through the gate and along the footpath and down to Penyghent House Cave. This time I led the way, and I walked in, none of this silly feet first nonsense. The streamway is impressive but all to soon it lowers to a corner where the water deepens. It has been very dry recently so this is the point where the guidebook suggests a swim normally ensues. Bob and Elisa watched me find out how wet it was, they say and watched. The crawl was only chest deep but felt very cold. You only get wet as the stal on the ceiling forces you to duck to avoid damaging it. Anyway, it's only a short distance to where the crawl pops out into a tall chamber where the stream enters 6m up.

Back to the other two and then I took some photos on the way out, well I did have two slaves with me, and they held the two flash-guns that I also happened to have!

We wandered down to Penyghent Gill to take in the impressive view before returning to the car and changing amidst the constant noise of a vintage car rally "speeding" past. Was it just us or does anyone else remember Mark 1 Ford Escorts exhaust's all making the same fut-fut noise as if they all had holes in them! We then tried for a pint in the Craven Heifer at Stainforth but it was closed so it was off to the Crown for a Guinness.

A pleasant way to spend an hour or so, just a shame we couldn't find the way through from No.2 to No.1 Pot and at least say we've "seen" the through trip.
Matthew Setchfield.

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(between 01/05/03 - 17/07/03)

Domestic Publications:
BEC Belfry Bulletin Vol.52 No.3 number 515 Winter 2002/3
BCRA "Speleology" Issue 2 May 2003
Chelsea Speleological Society Newsletter Vol.45 No.5 May 2003, Vol.45 No.6 June 2003
Vol.45 No.7 July 2003
Craven Pothole Club Record No.71 July 2003
Descent No.172 June/July 2003
Red Rose Cave & Pothole Club newsletter Vol.40 No.1 May 2003
Wealden Cave & Mine Society "News of the Weald" Issue No.49 May 2003
Wessex Cave Club Journal Vol.27 No.285 June 2003
White Rose Pothole Club Newsletter Vol.22 No.2 May 2003
Foreign Publications:
O Carste Vol.15 No.1 Janeiro 2003 (Brazil)
Regards No.48 Mai-/juin 2003 (Belgian)
Speleobooks 2003 (30th Anniversary catalogue)
Book purchases:
Books donated by Don Carter:
The Underground Atlas - J.Middleton & T.Waltham (1992 Edition)
Tony Oldham donations:
Ogof Dwy Sîr Survey BCRA 4
Ten years in the dark - Mark Wilton-Jones
Grottan Nr.4 December 2002, Nr.1 Mars 2003 (Sweden)
Mendip Nature Research Committee N/L no.96 June/July 2003
Northern Boggarts Newsletter No. 203 19th January 2003
U.I.S. Commission on Volcanic Caves No.38 February 2003
Der Schlaz Heft.96 Februar 2002, Heft 97 Juli 2002, Heft 98 November 2002 (Germany)
"Jaskinie" 4 (29) pazdziernik - grudzsien 2002, 1 (30) styczen - marzec 2003 (Poland)
NSS News: Vol.61 No, 1 January 2003,Vol.61 No.3 March 2003, Vol.61 No.4 April 2003 (USA)
NSS Journal of Cave & karst studies Vol.65 No.1 April 2003 (USA)
Underwater Speleology (NSS Cave Diving section_ Vol.30 No.1 2003 (USA)
Speleophilately International No. 67 January 2003, No.68 February 2003
Speleo'zin no.15 2002 (Croatia)
"Speleo Nederland": 17e jaargang No. 3-4 december 2002 (Netherlands)
Wells Natural History & Archaeological Society Report 2001/2002
The Windy City Speleonews Vol.43 No.1 February 2003, Vol.43 No.2 April 2003, Vol.43 No.3 June 2003 (USA)

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Last Gasp

18th Hole, Sunday 6th July 2003.
A short but productive visit by Dougal, Fumpa and me to remove 30 buckets of loose infill. This and the 50 buckets cleared on the last visit has opened it up considerably and we are now going sideways under what seems to be a rock arch. The influent trickle of water emerges from the cliff face and flows down over a band of clay, disappearing into the gravel floor. Small voids are appearing ahead where water has washed out mud between stones, the digging is easy and overall the prospects are excellent.

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 October 2003. Thanks to this edition's contributors: Toby Clark, John Wilcock, Matthew Setchfield, Phil Mack.

Your name should be here!