First trip to OFD

On Saturday 2nd July 2011 I went to Ogof Ffynnon Ddu ( O.F.D ) cave with 3 others as my guides.

For years this is something I have always wanted to do.

This would be my first cave I would have caved in with all the proper gear, which I had just bought from a van parked outside the South Wales Caving Club.  Dressed in my lycra under-suit, cordura over-suit, rose patterned wellies and helmet I was ready for what the cave had to offer ( or so I thought ).  We walked uphill for about half a mile and reached the cave at mid-day.

We had to go through a small squared steel door and started a downhill descent. Almost within minutes we were climbing up and down big rock boulders, on hands and knees and squeezing through small tunnels. I was told to trust my suit which would help me to grip against the rocks, I found this to be true and helped me a lot.

When negotiating certain climbs and crawls this is not an attractive sport, you just have to get into a position you feel is most comfortable to yourself.

Sometimes just as I thought we had got to a dead end, I would be told to climb maybe 9ft and squeeze through a hole at the top.  I found the whole experience thrilling and beautiful, some of the formations in the cave are awesome and I feel privileged to have seen them.

We spent 5 hours caving that day.

The next day Sunday 3rd July . We went to Little Neath cave which is a water cave.  We had to cross a shallow river and when I saw the hole we had squeeze into, I thought they were having a laugh.

Then 1 of my guides went in first, I was then second and was told to do what he does. Not sure what to expect, I think maybe I was expecting to crawl through this small hole and then I would be in a great big space. I got the opposite.

For maybe 100 yards it was all a tight squeeze. I went in head first hands and feet pushing me along, straight away I was in water from neck to toe and just keeping my head above the water and my helmet banging on the rock above me, just as I thought it could not get any more exciting the person in front of me took his helmet off and went feet first through this narrow passage, and trying to stay afloat whilst keeping his helmet above the water. I was not expecting such intense excitement straight away, as you can imagine I was relieved once we got into openness. It was a fantastic cave that offered all the excitement from caving sometimes we would be wading through water waist deep. We spent 4 hours caving.

I would like to say a big THANK YOU to all my guides throughout my experience of caving because they helped in gaining the confidence needed and trust in each other.

I enjoyed caving so much I am definitely going to cave again and this has now spurred me onto stopping smoking and get fitter as this is an activity you do need to be fit.

Shonah Newman