The goliath of South Wales caves, Ogof Draenen is the second largest cave system in the UK totalling over 70 km in length. Famous for its vast passages and chambers and the large amount of ‘boulder-hopping’ necessary for much of its length, there’s much more to this extensive system than that, and plenty of extraordinary sights to see along the way.
Access is available to members of any bona fide caving clubs with membership of BCRA or similar body. To apply for a key please send a jiffy style envelope with return address, a letter on club headed paper detailing when you would like to do your trip, and a cheque for £10 as a key deposit made payable to PDCMG (Pwll Ddu Cave Management Group). The cheque will be destroyed upon return of the key. Note you’ll need a large letter stamp for the envelope. See PDCMG website for further details https://pdcmg.org
CSS members can access the cave at any time using the club keys held at Whitewalls.
NGR: SO 24644 11787 - what3words: ///locked.fillings.protest
Ogof Draenen is only a short drive from Whitewalls. The easiest way to get there is via Blaenavon, along Abergavenny Road (B4246) as far as Keepers Pond. Here take the road heading left and continue on past the now blocked car park and closed pub The Lamb and Fox to park in one of the laybys further along. To find the cave take the gravel path by the Pwll Du Adventure Centre and cross a stile, then a small stream, and continue along this small track over a fence and down the steep hillside until you reach the gated entrance.
Popular trips in Ogof Draenen
- Gilwern Passage - This is a really good introduction to the Draenen system and is a relatively easy trip to a pleasant part of the cave with nice formations and fewer boulders than elsewhere in the cave. The Galeria Garimpeiros extensions are also worth exploring.
- The Round Trip - This a classic caving trip full of variety, with large boulder strewn passages, narrow rifts, streamways, traverses, climbs and The Sewer. If you only do one trip in Draenen and enjoy ‘sporting’ caving, then this is the trip for you!
- Dollimore Series - Along with War of the Worlds is one of the prime ‘big trips’ in Draenen. Trip highlights include The Snowball, Luck of the Draw, Medusa’s Children, Circus Maximus and the remote wonder that is The Geryon.
- War of the Worlds - Like Dollimore Series this is a long trip not to be underestimated. Much of the journey is in the large boulder-strewn passages typical to Draenen, with some interesting sights along the way such as The Washing Machine, The Reactor and Sendero Luminoso.
- Waterfall Series - Perhaps less visited than the other areas mentioned, but a really interesting and varied excursion nonetheless. Bring a ladder and a nominated free-climber to rig the climbs for this enjoyable trip in a section of the cave with a very different feel to the rest of the system.
For further information on these routes see Tarquin’s Draenen website at https://www.cavinguk.co.uk/draenen for the most comprehensive guide to the cave.