Digging in Llangattock

For the last year I have rarely been seen at Godre Pentre. I have not abandonned you, but have been very active within Chelsea Speleological Society, digging in the caves of Llangattock most weekends. Having had remarkable success in this area, I think one or two members may be interested in my progress over the last year.

The mountain of Llangattock is on the Head of the Vallies road, 5 miles west of Abergavenny. It is almost unique in the world for its richness of horizontally orientated cave passage, containing the three large systems of Agen Allwedd, Daren Cilau and Craig-y-Ffynnon. The relatively new cave of Carno Adit is heading towards Agen Allwedd now, and is approximately 5 kilometres in length.

I have been digging in Agen Allwedd (AA) and other caves over the last year and have entertained old hands at Chelsea's cottage with my progress in "Jim's Dig", Aven Series, AA. This is a roomy sandy dig which, after 12 expeditions of hard digging, has resulted in nothing except dead-ends, tons of spoil and a comfortable place to eat your lunch. Marianne Wilson and Paul Stacey are two Croydon members who have enthusiastically helped. I have been involved to a small extent in Carno Adit, surveying twice and exploring in Car Crusher passage, being the first to have gone down three tight virgin side-passages. I have also dug in Priory Road, AA with Martyn Farr and Tony Donovan, trying to join up with Daren Cilau. This dig has slowed down over the last few months due to a tight rift requiring much bang, and also the successes in Carno Adit.

Other digs I have been involved with include Rock of Ages Dig, Fox-Holes Dig and Dau-Benton's Dig, learning banging skills with Trevor Pritchard. Adrian Paniwnyk managed to entice me back into Blaen Onneu Quarry Pot where I wimped out from continuing to the end, contenting myself with widening the first awkward squeeze.

The Bank Holiday weekend saw the return of two stalwarts of Chelsea SS, Geoff Newton and John Stevens. Together with Simon Abbott we banged the northern end of Calcite Gallery, Turkey Streamway, AA. I was particularly interested in an untried boulder choke at the southern end of the passage and spent an hour digging before breaking through in an upwards direction. With assistance summoned by my screams of delight we widened it to discover 45 feet of new passage - a bouldery aven 25 feet high. I helped John scale it but there are no ways on. This I called Paranoia - being my first break-through I wanted to be the first person into it.

The next day John, Simon and myself surveyed to and banged the end of Rawhide Passage, an extremely unpleasant tight crawl 0f 120 metres length off Main Passage, AA. This banging had already been attempted by Simon and myself a month before, so laden with equipment that it took 1.5 hours to crawl and squeeze down it, only to find that the drill would not work. Last Saturday we three reentered it armed only with a hammer and crow-bar - to unmitigated success. We cleared the debris of last week, then proceeded down similarly tight passage to The Bacon Slicer, which required an hour of digging before Simon and myself followed John. After more digging the total length was surveyed to 199 metres (Grade 2-3) including two very tight side passages.

This article is submitted as evidence that members not often seen at Godre Pentre may still be very active elsewhere and still have contact with other members. I hope it encourages other fringe members to write in and keep us all up to date.

Editor's Note: Since writing this article in September 1992, Jim has made further progress in Agen Allwedd and Carno Adit, as detailed in the latest issue of Descent. No doubt more discoveries are on their way and we look forward to hearing of them in due course!

Jim Morris