Little Neath River Cave - 23/09/2000

Written by RobEavis.

Report by Alan Walker
Cavers: Rob Wallis (EPC), Alan Walker, Chris Moorcroft

A beautiful sunny late September Saturday saw Rob Wallis, Chris Moorcroft and myself Alan Walker speeding down the M50 for a long overdue visit to the caves of South Wales.

Although there had been a serious amount of rain during the week with more forecast for the weekend and we had a permit for Ogof Draenen, a perfectly safe and sensible cave to explore under such circumstances, the lure of the aquatic delights of Little Neath River Cave became the chosen trip for the day, after all there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and we all had wetsuits.

After a quick check to make sure there was actually some air space at the entrance we changed next to the farm whilst the farmers wife made constant excuses to stand around outside and watch.

All my previous trips here have been at Easter when the waters of the river Neath are either frozen, necessitating smashing ones way through icicles into the low river bed entrance or in such high flood that the whole cave is submerged. We were therefore pleasantly surprised to find the water warm and only a little higher than normal, just enough to make it "sporting".

After the low wet entrance crawl, and helmet off duck carefully negotiated to avoid any obstacles of the bloated, rotting, fleecy variety we followed the main downstream passage to the Bridge cave sump and the start of the long canal, a 500 foot low crawl in the stream leading to the massive passages beyond. The river entering here was enormous, much higher than any of us could remember and there was some confusion whether this was in fact the right place. Either way the crawl appeared to be sumped so a retreat to the bypass passage was made and we soon found ourselves romping along the main stream way over some awesome cascades to the down stream sump.

On our way back Chris and I decided to inspect the long crawl from the upstream end, Rob sensibly waited behind to inform next of kin of our demise etc. I reached a point where with helmet off and nose on roof I thought I could see the end, so a very swift return (we were swept along like two corks) was made to collect Rob to complete a most excellent round trip.

On exiting we found the day still glorious so a quick excursion was made into Bridge cave just to complete the perfect day, topped off later with lashings of cake and tea, chips and beer.