What better way to round off a work day than having a caving trip in the evening? Particularly when that trip is with the first rate company of Adrian Brown, Carl Rickard and Paul Tarrant, includes a leap in to cold water and some swimming to wake you up. Yet, this was not all. Tonight’s visit to Llygad Llwchwr was also going to be an introduction to SWCC caving for new provisional member, Steve Hepple, and potential provisional member, Tabitha, as well as a chance for Paul to try out his new camera.
|Steve, Tabitha, Paul, Adrian and Carl ready to go.|
Adrian has spent a lot of time in Llygad and knows it extremely well, so he was in charge tonight. He had a sporting round trip in mind that would exhilarate us and have us laughing at the same time. We met at 7pm on the roadside near the cave and after introductions and only minimal faffing, we headed to the cave.
|Warning sign near the entrance to Llygad Llwchwr.|
Steve had been to Llygad before and so partially knew what to expect. Tabitha, on the other hand, had not been here before and so found the entrance and some of the crawls a little exciting. To begin with, all the usual places were visited: First River Chamber, the Calcite Pool, the Column, Boulder Chamber, the Parting of the Ways and River Chambers 3 and 4. Then we went a little off piste by jumping off the Balcony into the Second River Chamber. NB. The water is shallow below the Balcony and only deep enough to jump in safely if you jump outwards and land in a hole under the water. At that point it is enough for a complete submersion (water levels depending).
|Tabitha in River Chamber 1|
Adrian knew what he was doing. He rigged a ladder for those who didn’t fancy the jump tonight and also for us to climb out afterwards (avoiding the awkward 4m climb up the Balcony). He then jumped first and stood there with his light pointing at the hole, showing everyone else where to aim for. Tabitha was keen to go next and had no trouble. She was quickly followed by Claire and Carl. We then all waded/swam down river, hanging on to the muddy walls where possible. There was plenty of screaming and laughing as the cold water gradually went down necks, or over heads in some cases, when underwater holes were not spotted in time. We then climbed up in to the Roof Series. There was a slightly awkward move on a climb around a corner above the river that made some members of the group nervous, but everyone managed it without a hitch.
|Adrian, happy as ever. (Photo: Paul Tarrant)|
After drying off a bit, it was now time to enter the river again (!) and we waded/swam back to the ladder in the Second River Chamber. Some slight drama and acrobatics ensued here when Adrian's carabiner almost got dropped in the river twice. Then there were more crawls on the way out and some spider spotting near the entrance (‘Eugh! Look at the giant egg sac above your head!!’). Then it was time to exit. This was done in several different styles and degrees of safety including some methods termed by Tabitha as the ’breached birth’ and ‘floppy pretzel’. The trip time was around 2¼ hours by the time we arrived back at the cars, and it was fully dark as we got changed.
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|Tabitha squeezing through|
|Adrian and Steve admire formations (Photo: Paul Tarrant)|
|Claire emerging from a crawl (Photo: Paul Tarrant)|
|Historical survey of Llygad Llwchwr (Source: www.ogof.org.uk)|