Dec 09 13
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This weekend we had the Midland Orienteering Championships on Sunday, but Saturday was devoid of fun, so we thought we’d better do something about that. We called Brendan, and he readily agreed to a day of caving in Ogof Draenen near Abergavenny. Attentive readers of the blog may remember that we’ve been there once before.

This time we decided to go in the opposite direction, heading for the far northwestern end of the cave, Gilwern Passage. Draenen has a particularly fun entrance, a series of drops with a small stream usually trying to find its way down the back of your neck. We were soon beyond this and clambering over the boulders that feature prominently in the cave. After a while we reached Tea Junction and headed up Gilwern Passage. This has some rather nice formations including an impressive metre-tall stalagmite, The Guardian. It also features lots of sliding around in knee-deep mud in the stream.

A bend in Y Gwter Fawr streamway, Ogof Draenen

A bend in Y Gwter Fawr streamway, Ogof Draenen

Rachel in the straw-filled streamway.

Rachel in the straw-filled streamway.

Eventually we reached a larger stream with lots of straws and passages off in every direction. After a couple of hours of exploring these, we headed back to the stream, stopped for pictures at a particularly nice bend, and then headed downstream intending to try to get into Breadfruit Boulevard, which is also supposed to be pretty. Unfortunately, we were defeated by the rather unpleasant duck at the start, so beat a retreat back out of the caving, stopping again at the Guardian for more pictures.

The Guardian in Gilwern Passage

The Guardian in Gilwern Passage

After the entertainment of the entrance series, we were back in the outside world after about six hours underground. Thanks to Brendan for leading the trip, and also for providing the pictures.

Oh, and the Midlands Champs on Sunday? It was a lovely day, spoiled only slightly by the ridiculously high entry fee. Rachel was 6th; I was 6th; both of us ended up in mud over our knees. Neither of us is Midlands Champion. Maybe next year (if we can afford to enter).

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