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Daren Cilau Extension

(The story so far)

As you have probably read in the last BB, members from the BEC had joined forces with a group from Cardiff University to dig at a remote site off the Kings Road.  On the 8th February we went down again for a hard digging trip.  At about 10am Jim Smart, Neil Scallon, Nigel Burns, Andy Lovell and Wobbley entered the cave with photographic equipment and were taking the scenic route via Epocalypse Way and Antler Passage.  Then around 10.30 to 11am Mark Lumley and Tim Gould, then Steve Milner and me (Snablet) went straight to the dig, closely followed by the Cardiff team, Andy Cave, Steve Allen, Pete Brown and Henry Bennett about half an hour later.  We struggled through icicles and frozen floor and walls in the entrance series, then hammered through the rest of the route as far as the 65ft pitch.  We had to wait an hour at a diver ruckle, meanwhile Mark and Tim had overtaken the divers and were well on their way to the dig.  When we eventually got going again, the Cardiff team floated down Red River Passage and walked along the roof of the Time Machine with their little pipe.  Mark and Tim had got an hour or so digging in, with Mark managing fill the passage behind him with spoil!  We arrived over an hour later, ready for a brew-up which was already on the way.  A steady flow of people continued for the next few hours.  The primus stove was working overtime with constant demands for cuppa soups.

The dig was making steady progress in a phreatic passage filled with sand and clay on top.  The sandy spoil was used to fill in a steeply sloping floor in the existing passage to make a large level and fairly comfortable campsite, it was enough room for the 13 people who had been down there. We were well prepared for a breakthrough into “caverns measureless to man” with tape to mark off any formations we found, SRT kit and rope for pitches and climbing gear for any avens and surveying and camera equipment etc.

Jim Smart and Nigel Scallon arrived after their photographic trip with a large supply of Ovaltine, which was followed by shouts from in the dig that they could see a passage or chamber a few feet ahead.  Mark then went into one of his digging frenzies, while the rest started to brew up some Ovaltine.  Just as the water was coming to the boil Mark broke through into a passage 5 foot high and 10 foot wide at 9.20pm.  Everyone dropped everything and rushed into the new passage, a decision was made to explore the passage all together since we had all dug at some stage.  Photos were taken of the virgin passage with its mud formations and occasional crystals on the walls and ceiling. The passage continued around a couple of bends, then ended in a squeeze.  A passage could be seen continuing on the other side.  The squeeze was enlarged and I was pushed through to dig from the other side.  The team, some wearing woolly hats and carrying carbides by hand (leaving their proper lights and helmets behind in the rush) and armed with digging tools and cameras, were

trying to think of names for the passage.  After names had been flying around the passage from all directions, someone suggested the "Ovaltiney”, and it stuck because of the almost made ovaltine back at the base camp.

Once through the squeeze the passage continued for a short distance a similar size to the passage before and ending in another larger squeeze with passage on the other side. A message was passed back that it looked fairly big, but by the time it had reached the last man the message had changed from fairly big to massive.  The passage beyond was similar but slightly smaller also ending in a squeeze with an awkward twist in it.  The passage on the other side was slightly larger than before with a cold draught coming along it.  The passage went around a couple of bends, and then ended in a large pile of sand forming a choke.  There was a small air space with a howling gale going through.  Further investigation revealed blackness beyond (it must be a chamber or mere passage).  The next push should hopefully uncover caverns measureless to man, and another, nay, either Agen Allwedd or Llangattock Swallet.

The extension is a high level passage like Trident in Aggy and about 200 foot long, heading in a North West direction like all the other big stuff under Llangattock Mountain (it got to be a good sign).  We didn't push the extension any further because it was getting late, lights were getting low, we were tired and it would take a good few hours to dig out the choke, so we thought it appropriate place to leave it so we meandered on out fairly slowly, having to break our way through the ice in the entrance series.   We arrived back at 5-30am. after an 18 hour trip and celebrated the initial breakthrough by getting pissed on wine and beer and waking up half of Whitewalls.

To be continued in the next BB when we will probably have found more. 


PS. Wormhole, you're going to have to buy some new kit now!