Trips & Reports for Ogof Draenen

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Sunday May 28th

Ogof Draenen to Dogleg Series

Aileen, Gary, Matt

Matt wrote...

After numerous trips to the far reaches of Ogof Draenen over the last few years (including one to Medusa's Children, one to the Geryon, and one to War of the Worlds and Sandero Luminosa at the opposite end of the cave), we were on the lookout for new places to visit in this excellent system. A tip off from a few club members recommended the Dogleg Complex, a different branch from the end of MS&D. After watching the excellent YouTube videos by The Freems (Youtube name 'Catchpool'), documenting a trip to here, it was clear that this part of Draenen is home to some of the finest formations.

A trip here was a must and so a bank holiday weekend at Whitewalls was promptly arranged.

A reasonably early start for a team of five enthusiasts suggested an efficient day ahead. Unfortunately on arriving at the Draenen car park opposite the Lamb and Fox, myself, Gary and Aileen waited patiently for Rachel and Toby to arrive in Rachel's car. After 30 minutes and no sign of them we were wondering what had happened. With no mobile signal, we gave them another 30 minutes before deciding that we might as well get started and hope they would catch us up (we knew they had recently been as far as MS&D so hopefully knew the way).

Aileen, Gary and I made quick progress through the entrance series, Beer Challenge, Indiana Highway, Megadrive etc etc, arriving at the Snowball in about two and a half hours - Not bad going! Into Last Sandwich Crawl, and the 30-40 minutes of long but not too hard crawling commenced. It was good to be back at MS&D after a year or so away. We stomped along to the junction where on all previous trips we have headed up towards The Geryon, but this time we headed down to 'Into the Black' down a steep slope of boulders (with a handline at the top). In the chamber at the bottom, a cavernous stream passage disappeared into the darkness (hence the name), but up on the left a steep rubble slope lead up into the Dogleg complex, and then the route was on the right at the top of the slope up yet more scree slopes. This did not look like a place many people had visited!

The Dogleg Complex is a very old, high level fossil complex of joint-driven cave development. It is a three dimensional labyrinth of junctions. Thankfully, Tarquins description which is freely available online (, is excellent. There are a few confusing moments where it is necessary to read ahead considerably to see what bits to ignore and what to follow, and some creative interpretation, but we encountered no major difficulties. Within 30 minutes of entering the Dogleg complex we arrived at our target; a stunning, absolutely magnificent, grotto at the end of an inconspicuous low passage, hidden beyond five minutes of arduous flat-out crawling.

Peering into this grotto from the approach, it is like a fairyland of columns, stalactites, straws and helictites. Stunning! They were in splendid condition, thanks to the difficulty in reaching this location and the fact that this is a dead end so it is not a thoroughfare. We admired this stunning chamber for several minutes and Gary took photos before we moved on.

Next stop was Circus Maximus, where it was nice to be back into more typical Draenen type caverns. There were some very nice stalagmites and straws here. However, the real treat was just beyond Circus Maximus, another dead end with a stunning gallery of flowstone and helictites. Absolutely pristine!

After more photography, we started on our outward journey, stopping only for a brief stomp down the first few hundred metres of the Into The Black Streamway, and exiting the cave at 9pm after about 10 hours underground.

What a superb trip - I thought I'd seen the finest Draenen had to offer before today - But the Dogleg pips the others to take first place.

Arriving out we found a note pinned to the entrance hatch. Rachel's car had a blown out tyre on route to the cave. Very bad luck indeed, but at least they'd got a top notch trip to the Courtisan in Aggie the day before to slightly compensate. It was nonetheless fun telling them how great The Dogleg was!

16th July 2017

Matt Ewles

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Saturday April 11th 2015

Ogof Draenen to The Geryon

David W, Gary, John D, Matt

11 photos by Gary...

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Saturday September 6th 2014

Ogof Draenen to Snowball Passage

Matt, John D, John C, Gary, David W, Mike Green (CSS member)

8 photos by Gary...

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Saturday June 7th 2014

Ogof Draenen to War of the Worlds

Matt, Gary, David W, Philip Judson, Martin Egan

5 photos by Gary...

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Saturday June 8th 2013

Ogof Draenen (to Hearts of Olden Glory)

Gary, Philip Judson, Angus Sawyer

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Sunday February 5th 2012

Ogof Draenen to the Dollimore Series and Medusa's Children

Matt, Mark, Gary

Gary wrote...

Everything was definitely against us for this trip. After Matt got some kind of flesh eating infection in his foot the night before and me being full of cold (not to mention knackered from doing Aggy for 7 hours), we'd all but written off our planned Draenen expedition. Things didn't get any better the next morning... it had snowed overnight and the road didn't look good!

Despite all this, and not leaving the hut until 11am, we managed to get to the Draenen car park and were swiftly underground!

After the usual fun dunk in the entrance waterfall we were making good time and were soon in Indiana Highway. At this point my cold caught up with me and I was on the verge of turning back, but I soldiered on thanks to the plethra of drugs Mark had with him!

Mostly easy going for a while with a quick stomp through Megadrive and on to Nunnery Passage. We had a bit of discussion about which passage off the Nunnery it was but we chose right. It was not long before the formations started with the very unusual gypsum crystals in Mid-winter Chambers, shortly followed by the Snowball which you can't help put sit and stare at for some time!

Then the crawling began...

There was a lot of groaning and grunting (mostly from Matt) through the Last Sandwich crawl which seems to go on forever ending in a few squeezes which turned out to be not that bad. The reward was worth it when we popped out all of a sudden in the HUGE passage called MS&D (more singing and dancing??). After (yet another) food stop we stomped off down the vast space to arrive at Luck of the Draw.

It was at this point that the description stopped stating distances in meters and moved onto kilometres! 'Follow the passage for 1.2km' it said! So off we went. After an easy rope climb up we entered some easy walking passage which mostly remained that size for it's length. Some time later we arrived at our goal for the day... Madusas Children.

I would agree with all descriptions I have read about this place... it is by far the most amazing formations I have ever seen and definitely the best in the UK as far as I know. For about 30m of passage the walls and ceiling are literally covered with the most bizarre bright white helectites, any one of which would be worth a long trip to see. The well taped path took us carefully through into another section of the same formations. Mark took some video while Matt and I headed on a bit.

By now we were all pretty knackered but pushed on to The Light Bulb formation then attempted to find the Geryon but failed after several crawls. Never mind - next time!

The return trip was arduous to say the least but we were out before midnight to a snowy Wales and thankfully didn't get stuck on the way back to the hut!

14th February 2012

Gary Douthwaite

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Friday January 14th 2011

Ogof Draenen to Sendero Luminosa

Max, Richard G, Nikki

Richard G wrote...

An amazing trip. Fired up with enthusiasm after hearing about Mark, Andy V and Jennie visiting some of the far reaches last March we decided to visit War of the Worlds. A long (5h40 in, 5h out) trip, but not too demanding - just lots and lots of cave. The formations in Sendero Luminosa off War of the Worlds North are incredible. WOTW passage is awe inspiring - second biggest after the Time Machine in Daren, but arguably more impressive as it is straighter and more consistently massive. Other great formations including the Snowball (Gypsum ball the size of a football) and the Washing Machine.

Since getting back and looking at the photos of Cantankerous Surveyors Passage, I itching to get back and go there.

Longer trip report to follow...

17th January 2011

Richard Gover

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Saturday July 3rd 2010

Ogof Draenen (Gilwern Passage to Hearts of Olden Glory Streamway)

Matt, Gary, Chuck

Matt wrote...

A little bit of a mistake in this trip, which was originally intended to be Strawberry Passage!

We headed down at midday via the pitch bypass to Cairn Junction. Looking at the survey (of which we only had a very small scale copy) it appeared that Strawberry Passage headed off to the north from Tea Junction. Sure enough, we found a passage heading off from Tea Junction which continued in a straight line for considerable distance (far further than suggested by the survey) past some fine crystal formations on the wall, eventually ending at a junction. From here, up a slope of boulders was a huge chamber with no way on (also not on the survey for Strawberry Passage), whereas straight ahead the passage had tape across and a note requesting we don't proceed any further due to delicate formations. At this point we were feeling pretty underwhelmed by Strawberry Passage, which despite its grandeur was nowhere near as pretty as we expected and nothing like what it appeared on the survey. Were we in the wrong place or was the survey incorrect?

We were about to turn back feeling somewhat disappointed and bored, when Gary went to investigate the route of a tiny trickling streamway into a low crawl. Minutes later he shouted to follow and we navigated a route through a hideous boulder pile to emerge in stomping passage again with a small stream and thick mud banks all around (unfortunately still with the ubiquitous marker tape that seems to adorn every passage throughout the cave).

Our adventure was soon rewarded with some fine straws, and then soon after a junction was reached. Bearing left soon closed down into wet muddy crawls and we were in no mood for getting down and dirty on this trip (being knackered after Ogof Carno the previous day). Turning right however went into some fine meandering stream passage, doglegging a couple of times before reaching a boulder collapse, finally providing us with the sense of adventure and exploration we had been wanting. A route down through the boulders, and up and over them was apparant by the presence of anchors, however, as we had no idea where we were (and our callout was for Strawberry Passage, which by this point we had decided we couldn't possibly be in) we declined any acrobatic stunts and called it a day, now feeling much more satisfied with our trip.

Of course, it wasn't until that evening reading the detailed 25 page description of Draenen that we realised our huge error. Strawberry Passage does indeed appear on our shrunken survey to head off in a straight line from Tea Junction, but in fact can only be accessed at higher level by traversing around the pitch bypass and Cairn Junction. We had actually adventured up Gilwern Passage and into the Hearts of Olden Glory Streamway. A return trip to explore the furthest reaches of this area is a necessity, and maybe next time we'll actually go to the true Strawberry Passage.

4th July 2010

Matt Ewles

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Gary wrote...

Not really feeling like *another* Draenen round trip we decided to investigate another area – Strawberry Passage… or so we thought!

With low water, the entrance was rather more pleasant than on previous trips with only a small amount of water going down the slot above the scaffolding. Still managed to get my pants wet though :)

Headed for Cairn Junction and signed in then up to Wonderbra and to Tea Junction with no problems. We sat at the slope just beyond Tea Junction for some time in awe of the vastness of the passage before heading into what we assumed (and the survey suggested) was Strawberry Passage. After a relatively easy start in the huge drive-a-bus-down-it sized passage, the going got a little tougher with constant up and down over slippery blocks for what seemed to go on for ages. We finally reached a Y junction with a climb up at the end. The right hand passage ended in a taped off area with some really nice formations and a strange flaked calcite floor. The left hand passage went up through boulders to a huge dry chamber which, after some exploring, we decided there was no way on.

By now we were all getting board at this rather un-interesting area of Draenen and headed back down the choke to the Y junction. Then we noticed a small, low crawl at the bottom of the slope and, despite being fairly sure that Matt had just peed there, I went off for an explore.

The obvious worn but small passage headed up through boulders to a squeeze with an enticing space beyond. I called Matt in case I needed pulling out then slithered through. The passage soon emerged in another large and very well decorated area with a stream flowing down it. This, we later discovered was the start of Hearts of the Glory Streamway. Following the taped area which kept us in the knee deep muddy stream passes some amazing 1m long straws before emerging a another stream way and Y junction. Following the stream left (down stream) got lower and we decided we didn’t want to get wet so opted for the right passage (upstream). A good distance of nice streamway followed before ending a boulder choke.

So what started as a rather mundane trip actually turned out to be really quite good. All the way out we still thought we’d been in Strawberry Passage but turned out we’d gone almost to the north most end of the cave.

I would defiantly recommend this area for a shorter, but interesting trip with some great formations. Judging by the amount of footprints, a seldom visited aera too. A return trip with a camera me-thinks.

7th July 2010

Gary Douthwaite

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YCC Trip History

Here you can see the list of pretty much all the trips YCC members have been on over the years. Members can also submit reports which will hopefully help others to avoid problems or just for some inspiration! Use the filters below to view by year or cave.

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2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009

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