Changes To Ogof Ffynnon Ddu SSSI

The Ogof Ffynnon Ddu Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) covers much of Pant Mawr near and the area underlain by The Little Neath River Cave as well as the OFD area itself, all in one contiguous site. Late in December 1988 the Nature Conservancy Council gave notification that they intend to make various additions and deletions to the present site shown on Map 1 so as to produce the three separate SSSIs shown on Map 2

(1) Ogof Ffynnon Ddu
(2) Ogof Ffynnon Ddu - Pant Mawr
(3) Little Neath River Caves

In the light of Croydon Caving Clubs recent discovery of Ogof Igam-Ogam it is interesting to see that most of the land on the West bank of The Little Neath River up to about the plateau level of Pant Mawr moor has been DENOTIFIED. Also it appears that the opportunity has not been taken to include Dyffrynn Nedd land West of the road and East of the river. Whether these actions/inactions are a good or a bad thing depend, on your views on the value of SSSIs in protecting caves.

The formal identification of the LNCR SSSI and the list of PDOs (potentially damaging operations) which limit what can be done on (and under) the land within the SSSI are set out below:

Powys - Little Neath River Caves SSSI

Borough of Brecknock
Date of Notification: 1967, 1970 and December 1988
National Grid Reference: SN 914 135
OS 1:50,000 sheet No: 161
OS 1:25,000 sheet No: SN 91
Site area: 108.1 hectares (267.1 acres)


The site contains nearly 10 kilometres (6. miles) of cave passages, most of which lie in the Little Neath River Cave itself. This is an extremely fine system with a large and dramatic main river passage mapped most of the way from the sinks to the resurgence - both located in the main valley riverbed. The . caves show a close response to geological structure and demonstrate a complex history of development through underground diversion of a major surface river. The site includes the gorge of the River Nedd which is notable for its sinkholes and risings, disappearing river and associated karst features.


This site has been selected as a result of the Nature Conservancy Council's Geological Conservation Review, a national survey and evaluation of sites of geological and physiographical interest (in progress).

Much of the site used to be part of the Ogof Ffynnon Ddu 5551, notified in 1954-80 under the National Parks & Access to the Countryside Act, 1949. In 1988 the boundary of this previously notified portion was modified and the resulting site notified under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981 (as amended) as a separate SSSI.

The site lies within the Brecon Beacons National Park.


Dumping, spreading, discharge, storage or use of any materials likely to (a) percolate into waterways or cave passages, (b) infill caves, cave entrances, shake (swallow) holes, quarries or pits or (c) obscure rock outcrops or limestone pavements.

Tree planting, including afforestation, extending to an area in excess of half a hectare.

Modification of field drainage, including moor-gripping and the use of mole, tile, tunnel or other artificial drains.

Modification, both on the surface or underground, to rivers, streams and ditches, including their banks and beds, when in water or temporarily dry, by re-alignment, regarding, dredging, clearing or blocking.

Changes in the present utilization of water, including storage, the raising of water levels, irrigation and abstraction from existing water bodies and through boreholes.

Extraction of minerals, including peat, clay, shingle, sand and gravel, topsoil, sub-soil, rock, limestone pavement, stalagmite and stalactite.

The undertaking of engineering works, including the construction, modification or destruction of permanent or temporary structures or earthworks on the surface or below ground, beyond normal cave exploration, likely to obscure, damage or significantly alter features of geological, or geomorphological interest such as rivers, river beds, caves, rock outcrops, shake (swallow) holes, quarries or pits, scree, limestone pavement, stalagmite and stalactite and cave deposits.

Quite what constitutes "normal cave exploration" in terms of "engineering works" is anyone's guess; there are some fairly massive digs dii Pant Mawr and elsewhere. Still, do not worry too much about it, at least not until you begin to see NCC officials squeezing into the LNRC entrance with flashing blue lights on top of their helmets.