Daren Cilau Sat. Nov. 30th,

Bernard Taylor, Paul Seddon &Rob Palmer.

A couple of weeks back, Paul had mentioned the possibility of a trip into Daren. I said, Lets go before were too old & overweight for the entrance series.
We drove to Bristol on the Friday evening in the Turbo Saab in great comfort, to search for Rob Palmers house & a doss for the night. After a couple of funny pints of strange beer in a local pub, we dossed ready for an early start & the one hours run to Crickhowell. We had a big breakfast cooked by Rob, and. then fortified, we fired off to foreign parts.

It took us just over an hour to get to the Chelsea Hut, and the entrance to Daren is five minutes walk away. The Chelsea lads made us very welcome, their hut Whitewalls being smaller than the farm, but just as cosy. A lot of people were getting ready to go into Daren, it being near & still very popular. Did you know that it is the sixth wonder of Wales? We walked to the cave tagging on to three Chelsea lads and I wondered just what the entrance Series was like? I d read in Caves & Caving, that a girl had done the entrance series in 30 minutes, should be no problem. Well, to get in the cave, you first lie down in the field at the, base of a quarry, then slide in with your ear in the water and your back tight against the roof. After that it gets much higher, hut also much narrower! Its actually 1750 feet long, & sheer hell for anyone whos 13 stone. It took us one hour, and I was absolutely burnt out. I thought, how the hell am I going to get out of this bloody thing when Im really knackered. We shall see.

From then on, with fairly easy route finding and the occasional crawl it was big stuff all the way. A tight problem was encountered at one of the chokes, whereby lamp & hat had to be taken off, but after that no problem. The pitch up was reached & we joined the queue. Shortly after, another fifteen joined the queue, making twenty eight in all. Then they got brassed off & went out. The up pitch was already laddered & presented no problem - 65 feet. The laddie who free climbed it first however, on the original discovery was a nero - daft if you ask me. The top of the pitch leads on with easy passage to the top of the eighty foot pitch down and into the mega stuff. And this is mega stuff!. Its not as big as the Berger, but its pretty big. Its that big, you cant see anything with your light. What you need is a big carbide!
At this stage we met some folk coming out, who said it was still three hours to the bottom! So we trogged on. No more crawling or stooping, all the way to the sumps, upstream & downstream. The formations on route are brilliant with the Bonsai Tree something else. So we tregged back after taking seven hours to get to the bottom.
The eighty foot pitch up was hard work, and I should have followed Sedbo up the pitch bypass, which apparently is a piece of duff with a hairy traverse at the top, Down the sixty five, through the chokes, lent off again, and suddenly we were at the terrible trance Series.

If the entrance Series coming in was sheer hell, then going out was twenty times worse. Almost Immediately you have the Calcite Squeezes and they are, as my cracked rib will prove. After that no problem except an epic slog - three inches at a time. Even Sedbo got stuck, by the knee. After a long time Sed. says that he can see dead flies on the roof, so we must be near the entrance. Then live flies, so we must be even nearer the entrance. Then he can smell the soil so we must be almost at the entrance. I was beginning to think wed gone the wrong way somewhere & were heading off in the other direction into new cave. Its said that youre not out of Daren till youre, cut. I knew we were out when I saw next to my nose, a load of green stal which turned out to be grass. - What a killer, but what a magnificent trip which took us twelve hours. We came out at 11:30, Saturday night.

Id like to go in again to see the things we missed, but not until they get McAlpines in to sort out the Entrance Series.. ... A brilliant cave, and one not to be missed.

Bernard Taylor.


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