Ogof Cefn-y-Gist SJ2328549166 +/-10ft Length 194m Vertical range 28m World’s End

Survey of main passage kindly supplied by NWCC. (Binks's Passage is not shown)

The entrance is protected by a steel hinged lid (not locked) to prevent sheep loss. After a years work, the cave was first entered on December 27th 1975. An excavated passage descends to the stream where it's necessary to crawl through an unstable area. About 30m from the entrance, a letter-box slot opens at the point the dig broke into the cave. The passage at this point opens to 6m wide and high enough to stand. Walking over fallen slabs, the passage can be followed to a further area of breakdown. Digging has forced a route through this to a further open section of passage to the third blockage. This also has been dug through into more passage but no obvious way could be found at the end. At this point, the draught felt at the entrance and the stream cannot be traced. Some years ago, blasting in the floor caused a massive section of the roof to fall, blocking the end of the cave, although the stream (and continuing passage) is likely to be found under boulders before the end of the cave.

A climb down in the floor near the end of the first section of open passage leads to a route under the right-hand wall and Bink's Passage, an ascending well-decorated passage terminating very close to the surface.

Before mining, water sinking here issued at Ffynnon Wen nearly 2.5 miles to the north-east and 155m lower.

Dye testing has shown that water sinking at Cefn-y-Gist re-appears in Ogof Llyn Parc (NWCC newsletter No 285, 2003)

Enormous potential if a way on can be found that regains the stream and draught (see also Ffynnon Wen, Grand Turk Passage and Cefn-y-gist Shakeholes).

Nearly a mile north of World's End is a small valley running parallel to, and just below, the road. The cave has a small stream flowing into the entrance from a small boggy area.

Warning: Instability is a problem. Please treat with respect. Several roof collapses have already occurred.

Ogof Cefn-y-Gist entrance before the caves discovery

The first view of open passage shortly after the caves discovery
Note the collapsed blocks fallen from the roof

Passage discoverer Gordon (Binks) Blackie pictured in Bink's passage


Ogof Cerrig Uche l SJ1856451189 Length: 37m Altitude: 297m AOD Llandegla

A cave discovered during the excavation of a patio behind the property of Cerrig Uchel, first explored and surveyed in June 2018 by NWCC.
Most of the cave is a muddy crawl although there are one or two places of standing height.

Another entrance was found by the owner about 50m to the south-west, but its entrance has now been filled.
A nearby farmer also had other entrances further to the south-west.

A survey of the cave can be found online here: http://www.northwalescavingclub.org.uk/ (scroll down past the first two large photos, then click the "Example survey" button).

The cave lies on the most southerly border of the carboniferous limestone band that extends northwards to Prestatyn.

No access without property owners consent.

The small entrance at floor level

View looking down from entrance


Ogof Colomendy SJ2020162773 (+/-9FT) Altitude: 746.15 ft AOD Loggerheads Archaeological (human)

Also known as Colomendy Cave

A tiny cave or rock shelter where many human bones and teeth were discovered on August 3rd 1975 by caver Edwin Carr of Wavertree, Liverpool.

Because the deposits were in highly disturbed, un-compacted and non-stratified ground, the site was excavated by cavers under the direction of cave archaeologist Mel Davies between 1975 and 1979. Hundreds of bones were found which included those representing three humans. Part of a flint arrowhead was also found. The human remains were considered by Mel Davies to be 3000 years old, although at that time no carbon dating was carried out.

Most of the bones are on loan to the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff (but see 'Where are the bones today' below), on the clear proviso that they be returned to the area if ever a suitable museum is established in North Wales (NWCC newsletter No 104 Aug 1981). A small selection of hominin and animal remains (see photos below), were held by the writer until 2018 when they were given to Denbighshire Countryside Services at Loggerheads, where it is hoped that they can be shown to the public on an occasional basis.

Further bones and artifacts are likely to remain in the disturbed deposits forming the platform outside the cave entrance, as the 1970s excavations by no means exhausted the caves archaeological potential.

The height of the cave entrance datum point (see photo below) was ascertained using a Distomat DI 10 survey instrument and a three-prism reflector. A Wild theodolite was used from the nearest bench mark at 805.64 feet OD (in the woods above Loggerheads). Measuring the altitude of seven survey legs, each accurate to within one centimetre, led to the new datum point above the cave entrance. This was confirmed as being 746.15 ft OD (or 227.43m OD).

Source: How High is Ogof Colomendy, by Mel Davies. North Wales Caving Club newsletter No 99, March 1981.

Update: Test excavation in 2015 - 2016 by Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust unearthed nineteen human (or possibly human) additional bone fragments . Radiocarbon dating proved those tested to be of Neolithic age, having a 'Conventional radiocarbon age' of 4408 +/-33BP (SUERC-66486[GU40395]), confirming Mel Davies's 1970s 'Neolithic' assessment.

Source: CPAT Report No. 1380: Caves of North East Wales - Archaeological Evaluation 2015-16.

The human fragments identified were:

  • Three cranium
  • Four teeth
  • Two vertebrae
  • Three ribs
  • Three scapula
  • Two hand phalanges
  • One tarsal
  • One foot phalanx

The report makes the following comments:

Results of the radiocarbon dating "indicate a most likely date between cal. 2900 BC and cal. 3100 BC".

"..... that the cave had been truncated by historic quarrying was confirmed by investigation during the course of fieldwork in 2015-16............ it seemed that the mouth of the cave had formerly been about 2m further to the south-south-east".

"The most significant feature of the cave is the roughly constructed wall (47 on plan below) which defines the former extent of the cave, prior to its reduction by quarrying. This was about 0.7m high and 0.6m thick and had been left in situ by the 1970s excavators; it could represent the deliberate blocking of the entrance when it was used as a place of burial in the prehistoric period, something found at a number of cave burial sites in the region......... and this potentially represents a rare survival of a feature of cave burials which, although recorded by 19th century excavators at many of the sites in north-east Wales, was always removed by them in gaining access to the deposits".

The report does not provide any evidence in support of the 'historic quarrying' hypothesis.

Directions: From the boundary stone beside the road (mid-way between Loggerheads and Cadole), take the track into the Country Park. Ignore the main track which bears slightly to the left, and take the smaller path which runs up the hill at right angles to the road. Just before reaching the highest point, turn left and the cave is 55 paces from the track just below a small rock outcrop.


Plan & section of site copied from CPAT Report No. 1380: Caves of North East Wales - Archaeological Evaluation 2015-16

Below are four images of the bones given by the writer to Denbighshire Countryside Services (at Loggerheads) in 2018:

Human remains from Ogof Colomendy (Box 1)

Animal remains from Ogof Colomendy (Box 2)

Animal remains from Ogof Colomendy (Box 3)

A dog humerus showing numerous cut marks suggesting butchery at the cave (from Box 2)

History of excavation

1975 August 3rd Although the cave was first noticed by Ted Carr two weeks earlier, the first excavation at the site was carried out on August 3rd. Heavily disturbed ground was cleared which revealed many human bones and at least 13 teeth, at which point digging was halted and the finds reported to a cave archaeologist.

1975 December 14th The second excavation by cavers with Mel Davies directing. After just four hours work two bucketfuls of bones had been unearthed, many of which were obviously human. All finds were found in very loose earth, although undisturbed clay deposits were reached at a depth of about a metre inside the cave. These however, were not found to contain archaeological material.

1976 March 21st Excavated by cavers with Mel Davies. Work continued excavating loose earth and boulders for three hours, after which a further bucketful of bones were found. Mel commented that “one bucket of bones equals two months work!"

1976 October 24th Carefully excavated by cavers, following Mels guidelines. A day was spent excavating the platform in front of the entrance, although several large boulders had to be cleared. The bones found were cleaned and dried and sent to Mel Davies for identification.

1977 April 3rd Fourteen cavers and Mel Davies carefully excavated at the site. The disturbed deposits within the cave were now found to be lacking in bones. Mel Davies stated that the main area for future work lay within the platform outside the entrance.

2015 October 19th - 22nd Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust carried out exploratory excavations to assess the sites remaining potential. During this work the public were invited to view progress. It featured as a news item on the BBC website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-north-east-wales-34591021

Amongst the finds from the cave held by the National Museum at Cardiff are:

6879g of animal bones

2981g of human bones

A leaf-shaped arrowhead

The above items are on loan from North Wales Caving Club (accession no. 82.2H)

Source: Steve Burrow (2003) Catalogue of the Mesolithic and Neolithic Collections in the National Museums & Galleries of Wales.

Primary sources:

Carr, E., (1975) NWCC, 32
Davies, M., NWCC, 32, August 1975; AW, 16, 1976; NWCC, 41, May 1976; NWCC, 49, January 1977; WPCST, 28, January 1977; NWCC, 54, June 1977; WPCST, 29, July 1977; CCC, 4, 1977-8, 18-23, Ogof Colomendy - Further animal remains and a third human skeleton; AW, 17, 1977.

PDF Downloads:

A. The first 1975 and 1976 accounts of the discovery of bones (from North Wales Caving Club newsletters) are available at the very bottom of this page under: Ogof Colomendy Earliest references.

B. Two brief reports with list of finds by Mel Davies dated 1977 and 1978 can be downloaded at the very bottom of this page, under the title: Colomendy 1 & Colomendy 2. (from Cambrian Caving Council newsletters).

C . Notes on the late Mel Davies' contribution to cave archaeology in Wales can be downloaded as a PDF from the very bottom of Page 13: Archaeological caves

And where are the bones today - National Museum of Wales puts ‘pounds before people’

The large majority of the Ogof Colomendy bone collection resides in the vaults of the National Museum of Wales (NMW), where they have remained, unseen by the public, for 40 years. As the museum also holds collections from a number of other North Wales caves, NMW were approached asking if this website might use one or two of their photographs. The museum however, does not encourage the sharing of information in this way, as indicated by their response:

The use of our photographs is available for the fee of £150 a year for each image, and we will need you to sign the paperwork for a licence to use it online ”.

It should be stated that NMW are in the process (in 2018) of photographing some of their oldest and most important finds from Palaeolithic caves, and making these available online. But it may be many years, if ever, they decide to include the unseen collections from the other North Wales caves, many of which are Neolithic.

NMW were then asked if we might visit the museum to take our own photographs. They replied:

“If we agree to you photographing the item we will need you to sign the paperwork for a license and we will ask you to assign the copyright of your photographs to us . We would not though charge a fee for you to put these on your website ". Such a licence would need to be renegotiated each year and would have unacceptable conditions attached.

As several small museums have freely provided information and photos for ' Caves of North Wales' , our concerns were raised with the museum over poor access to their collections, and how this conflicted with several statements in their Policy Documents. Despite several assurances that we would receive a response soon, this did not happen. It took four different e-mails, to four senior staff members, a formal complaint, and five months, before NMW felt inclined to respond. Their eventual reply referred to their “ mismatch between our organisational goals and the effect of some of our policies ”, They explained this as being due to pressures to maximise revenue. This appears contrary to the museums statement: “The collections are held in trust for the people of Wales and exist to serve society”.

As things stand, the public are unlikely to see any Neolithic remains from North Wales caves for many more decades.

Regarding NMWs Ogof Colomendy bone collection, n o photographs of these exist. But as they are one of the few bone collections that are merely ’On loan’, the only way in which cavers or the public are likely to see or photograph them, is for North Wales Caving Club (the owners) to request their return. Until that happens, the public are unlikely to see them again.

The National Museum of Wales proudly boasts: “ The collections exist to serve society ” - it seems not.

C.E. July 2018

Mel Davies (Nature Conservancy Council) surveying the cave in 1975

Mel Davies surveying outside the cave entrance in 1975

Cave entrance 2005


Ogof Cudd SJ1900858099 +/-9ft Length 8m Bryn Haidd, Llanarmon-yn-ial
(Hidden Cave)

A 0.5m diameter entrance opens into a passage below with a descent over clay and boulders to the passage floor. A crawl continues from this point and may be blind, but delicate calcite formations prevented pushing further. Discovered in 2010 .
The pile of earth and boulders inside the entrance completely block the original, possibly pre-glacial entrance and could contain deposits of archaeological interest.

Access: Call at the nearest house which overlooks the cave entrance.


The land-owner at the entrance at the time of the first exploration

Botryoidal helictites growing on calcite deposit formed on small tree roots


Ogof Dydd Byraf SJ25515202 Length 800m Gwynfryn, Minera

(Cave of the Shortest Day)

The earliest 1960s survey by the CUNDY group

Discovered in 1964 by Wrexham Caving Club, this was the first sporting cave to be found in North Wales. Although originally only half a mile in length, it offers large passages, tight crawls, many interesting formations and numerous places with digging potential. ODB, Ogof Llyn Du, Ogof Llyn Du 2 and Ogof Llyn Parc are all part of the same cave system, although not at first connected by cavers. Prolonged digging eventually, in 2013, connected ODB with the dived 'Whybro extension’ of Ogof Llyn Du 2. See a video of their work in the dig: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z8uwpx_dIqE

A fascinating and varied cave now connected by digging to Ogof Llyn Du 2 (Three photos of Ogof Llyn Du 2 can be found under the entry for Ogof Llyn Du lower down this page).
ODB, LLyn Du 1 and 2 and Parc Western shaft have all now been connected: A through trip was made
( via the sump between Llyn Du 2 and 3, and the gravel crawl between 3 and Parc Western ) in the Summer of 2014 by five NWCC members. The trip is reported as being "very high maintenance re syphoning the sump between ODB and Llyn Du 2, and the sandy crawl between 2 and 3 needing constantly re-digging, so not been done since".

An upper series consists of large passages up to 10m square having an ascending passage which ends within a metre or two of the surface (voice connection established in the 1960s). A middle series has several large, well decorated chambers whilst a lower series, reached via a narrow natural shaft near the entrance rift, is a network of small tubes with some interesting helictites.
The entrance leads to a short blind mine passage having a natural rift in the floor. The cave proper is reached at the bottom of this 7m narrow and awkward pitch. A further pitch of 8m leads to the lower series.
The cave was the subject of a public enquiry in the 1960s when quarrying posed a threat to the cave. It was also the subject of a TV news item at that time, when the actions of the camera team and their cables allegedly damaged many formations.

Access: Gated and locked. Contact NWCC

Minera Quarry now a Nature Reserve

In 2017 Minera Quarry was purchased by North Wales Wildlife Trust for £1. It opened to the public on June 2nd 2018. This may offer an opportunity to secure access for the future for all local caving clubs. The current NWWT position states: "NWWT is aware of the unique cave system in the quarry area and with the Minera Quarry Trust, has made an initial assessment of the caving options. We understand that Tarmac licenses current activities on an annual basis, and as long as this is carried out safely and in sympathy with a SSSI nature reserve, we would look to continue this. At the current time, we have not produced a Management Plan for the future of the quarry, but we would welcome proposals (with funding and safety details specified) which do not adversely impact this unique area" (pers. comm. Frances Cattanach, NWWT, Nov 2016).

To view a survey of the larger caves of Esclusham Mountain over a Google Earth image (including ODB), see under Ogof Llyn Parc below

For an overview of Minera Caves see: http://www.thegcr.org.uk/Sites/GCR_v12_C06_Site0568.htm

Photo: Brendan Marris

Photo: Brendan Marris

Photo: Brendan Marris


Ogof Elinor SJ122508 Length 10m Llanelidan, south of Ruthin

An entrance 1.5m high soon tapers to a crawl. The passage is clean, inviting and almost spider-free. An awkward squeeze near the end only gives access to another metre or so. The passage can be seen to continue but the clay floor requires digging. Please replace the rock wall inside the entrance to prevent sheep access.

The cave is named after farmer Powell’s daughter.

Access: Call at Garreg Einioes Farm for permission.

From Garreg Einioes farm (known locally as ‘the Graig’) at SJ121509 take the gate south off the track into field. Walk south-east passing a few tiny rock outcrops then descend into field below. The entrance is in a larger outcrop off to the left.


Ogof Enfys SJ21406231 Length 10m Gwernymynydd

(Rainbow Cave)
A crawl which soon turns left then right, then becomes too tight just beyond a tight squeeze. Could be extended by enlarging the end passage.
Behind the old Gwernymynydd garage (now Eagles & Crawfords yard) is a wooded hillside leading up to a disused silica quarry. The cave entrance is half way up the hill almost in line with a large limekiln.


Ogof Ewenol SJ0227170317 +/-40ft Length 30m Cefn

(Cave of White Water)


The water issuing from the cave was known variously as Ffynnon Galltfaenan, Galltfaenan Rising or Pont-y-Trap Rising prior to the discovery of the cave here in 1977.

At the time of its discovery, an entrance duck rose after 8m to a short climb up into a rift passage of up to 3m in height. The cave terminated where water entered from a passage at roof level but was just too tight to negotiate. Blasting on three occasions managed to extend the passage by a few metres, but the passage continued of a similar size requiring further enlarging (Source: Writers diary April 1977).

The cave is currently inaccessible due to falling-in of the approach trench as shown on the drawing above. Almost 2 metres depth of earth would need to be cleared from the trench to provide access (compare 1st & 2nd photos below).

Although discovered by the writer and others after digging through consolidated clay and boulders, the discovery could not have been made without the good work put in during the 1960s by Shropshire Mining Club and Shepton Mallet Caving Club who lowered the water level at the entrance by excavating the floor of the trench considerably.

The source of this water is likely to be Lodge Farm Swallow 2.4 miles to the south-east, although this remains to be dye-tested. An article published in 1962 also describes other sinks in Henllan village "The sinks, which I have not seen....... may lie in private gardens" (Source: "Ffynnon Galltfaenan, Denbigh, N. Wales" by A.W. Ashwell. Cave Research Group newsletter, No.85, Sept 1962, pages 7 & 8).

The height of Ogof Ewenol is about 40m AOD. Lodge Farm Swallow lies just under the 130m contour, hence a height difference of about 90 metres between sink and resurgence.

From the road bridge at SJ02157019 walk about 50m up the road (south) to a stile. Take the footpath here to the north down to the River Elwy. The cave is a further 40m downstream where the resurgence cuts across the path.

After further lowering of the stream bed, before breaking through, in 1976 .
The excavated passage lies just above water level

The entrance in 2012. Note that 2m depth of debris now fills the trench (see comparison with the 1976 photo above)

The entrance in 2016. Work has clearly been done to lower the trench since 2012


Ogof Gwaun SJ2033455461 Length 5m Llanarmon-yn-ial

(Meadow Cave)

A triangular-section entrance measures about 2m x 2m but becomes too tight after 5m. First recorded in March 2002.

Access: Although a public footpath runs just past the cave, it would be wise to ask at Creigiog Ucha farm beforehand.

From Creigiog Ucha farm at SJ204555 take the public footpath through the farm yard and past the sheds at the rear of the property. Take the stile at the far left-hand corner of the yard and turn right immediately. After about 40 metres pass through an opening in the fence, and the cave is about 40 metres off to the left, where the entrance may be obscured by bushes.

Information updated August 23rd 2018

View ahead from the current limit of human access


Ogof Gwen Goch SJ064781 Dyserth

(Red Gwen's Cave)


Appears to be a vertical pothole partially blocked by miners waste from nearby haematite mines. The impressive 5m deep vertical-walled pot measures 6m long and 3m wide. Its location is not where one might expect to find such a pot, being close to the top of Moel Hiraeddug, but the pre-glacial River Alyn passed this way (after Leake & Embleton) and it could therefore be a pre-glacial swallet cave.

The 1930s caver Peter Wild possessed a book of 1699 which described 'Ogof Gwen Goch' as 'this remarkable cave' on Moel Hiraeddug. He felt sure that this is the same cave. Assuming it to be the correct location, the quote suggests more than currently meets the eye. The early reference to Red Gwen's Cave suggests that the site may have been occupied at some time. Presumably 'Red' Gwen's colouring was the result of the abundant haematite deposits and clays found on Moel Hiraddug.

A dig was started by the writer and others in 1976 but abandoned at a depth of 2m. Digging was through a stiff red clay and boulder conglomerate in which part of an old key was found (see image below).

Although the dig was abandoned due to difficulties finding cavers willing to leave their normal hunting grounds, a note in the writers diary for a very hot June 26th 1976, mentions that when a 6ft crow-bar was driven down in the south-eastern corner of the dig, the ground "seemed (untypically) very loose and spacious and an outward cold draught was detected, strong enough to wave blades of grass".

Situated high on the south-east slope of Moel Hiraeddug just 10m below the summit.

Ogof Gwen Goch from above Photo: Dave Tyson

An uncharacteristic pose in the 1976 dig

The dig as it appeared in 2012
Photo: Dave Tyson

Oval bow (handle) of key found during excavation


Ogof Helygain SJ1937971212 +/-9ft
Length 16m Halkyn Mountain
(Halkyn Cave)

The plan and elevation above are not an accurate representation, but merely from

drawings based upon measured distances and compass bearings.

First explored and reported in 2013 by Ben Robertson and Tom Hughes after a little enlarging of the entrance.
A descending rift passage becomes too tight after 6 metres. A descending passage in the north wall terminates after 10 metres at a blockage which may connect with a nearby blocked mine shaft.
The cave is naturally formed although it has been modified in places by miners.

NB The GPS grid reference above (taken by the writer) differs slightly from the one indicated on the survey (by Ben Robertson), illustrating the variation possible using GPS devices.

Ben Robertson stands directly above the entrance
Photo: Neil Robertson

Looking down into the passage in the north wall
Photo Neil Robertson


Ogof Hen Ddyn SJ25415201 Length 80m Gwynfryn
(Old Mans Cave)

A cave entered by miners in the search for ore.

Just inside the entrance is a climb down through boulders. This leads to a couple of passages, some parts of which are cave-like in appearance, whilst others show clear evidence of mining activity.

Va rious places in the cave might me worthy of excavation. Could prove interesting due to its proximity to the lost Minera Quarry Cave.

First discovered in 1998 by GCC.

An inclined track in a cutting leads out of Minera quarry to the south-west. The small entrance can be found a few feet up the bank on the south-east side of the track .

Looking up to the entrance from below Photo: Dave Tyson


Ogof Hesp Alyn SJ19186552 Length 1.5km Altitude 142.89m OD Alyn Gorge

(Cave of the Barren Alyn)

Ogof Hesp Alyn & Ogof Hen Ffynnonau (Poachers Cave)
Based on surveys by North Wales Caving Club in 'Limestones & Caves of Wales' (1989) edited by Trevor D. Ford

A demanding yet rewarding cave with a vertical range of 85m. A phreatic cave whose entrance was a resurgence until mining operations lowered the local water table.

The entrance is an 8m pitch followed by a short slope down to a damp but short crawl. After a series of shallow muddy pools, the passage increases to walking height to where a scramble over large boulders marks the junction with Bowl Passage which enters almost from behind on the left. The Bowl Passage route can be followed north to a 10m pitch on the right. Below this a crawl passage descends to a gravel blockage. This needs to be dug to open up a hole in the roof through the gravel. The chambers beyond terminate at two 18m pots with boulders blocking any way on. Well worth a dig here.
Returning to the main passage, the route continues south down through large boulders and through a pool under the left wall. Shortly after, follow the fixed phone cable left at the next junction and from here the route is fairly straight-forward. After walking a hundred metres or so the roof lowers through the Sand Crawl (may require 10m of digging through sand if the first trip of the season). The passage enlarges again beyond to enter Dome Chamber. A short but awkward fixed rope climb then leads to a narrow rift passage and The Canal (6m deep). Ungainly bridging is needed here to avoid full immersion - the only ledge is 1m below the surface, although a guide-line has now been installed here. Shortly after, a low chamber is entered where it's necessary to scout off to the right to find the head of a 25m pitch where ladder or lifeline is required.
At the foot of the pitch a climb down over a large slab leads around the side of a chamber to a man-sized muddy tube in the floor. A rapid slide down through this and you arrive at The Wormway; a nice, roomy, sandy-floored passage running to left and right. The main route is to the right but a few metres to the left is a small tube in the left-hand wall which is known, at times, to become active. This can be followed for about 15m to a small rift in the floor blocked by small boulders. In certain conditions a river can be heard at this point just a metre or so below, but the floor has not yet been dug. This should be a straightforward dig but requires timbers and a saw to construct shelves on which to stack the boulders.
Following the main route right at The Wormway, the passage descends then ascends passing boulder ruckles in the floor and leads up to Sumps 1 and 2. It's necessary to syphon these perched sumps to continue further. Once the sumps have been drained, the cave beyond passes through a narrow rift area and a 20m pot before changing character to a roomy series of passages with sandy floors and high avens. A dig at the far end entered an active river passage which can be followed downstream for 100m. This passage is blocked by boulders at both ends.

The whole cave drains into mine workings at a point about 130 metres below the entrance (see Halkyn Mines Cave No 12 under page: 10. Caves Found in Mines).

Discovered in 1973 by NWCC when it was first entered by the late Tony Jarratt.

Access: Gated for safety but not normally locked.
The altitude of the entrance was surveyed in 1974 by Tony Jarratt (then of Ordnance Survey) using a 'Wild' T2 automatic level. A brass rivet was fitted in the rock face just above the entrance lid at 142.89m OD (469.9ft OD). Source: NWCC newsletter 15, 1974.

From the car park at Cilcain bridge at SJ18776518 walk up the steep road towards Pantymwyn to where the road bears to the right by a yellow council grit container. A scramble down the steep bank here leads to the footpath which continues downstream. The low entrance to Poachers Cave is clearly visible to the right of the footpath a few hundred metres downstream. Continue past this entrance for a further 200m or so, and the entrance is at river level down the steep bank.

Although dry for much of the year, the system can become active and fill unpredictably.
At times of flood the mine connection is too restricted to take the whole flow, and the entire cave can flood, when the entrance becomes a spring.

The Canal Photo: Ian Adams

The 'Sand Crawl' often needs excavating after each Winters floods.....

..... but in 1976, severe floods flushed out the passage (see ammo box for scale)

Photo: Ian Adams

After an early pushing trip: Tony Jarratt, Phil Hunter, Roy Sheil and Mick McCarthy in 1974
The entrance can't be seen but is between the two standing.


Ogof Llyn Du SJ25825181 Length 1.2km Gwynfryn

(Cave of the Black Lake)

Source: Caves & Caving
The Bulletin of the British Cave Research Asssociation Number 33 August 1986
NB: Ogof Llyn Du and Grand Turk Passage are shown as one cave on the survey above. They are in fact two caves: Ragman Passage carrying water from west to east, and Grand Turk Passage originally carrying water from the south-east to the north-west. Close to where the two caves meet, lay the now dry resurgence of Ffynnon Wen.

ODB, Ogof Llyn Du, Ogof Llyn Du 2 and Ogof Llyn Parc are all part of the same cave system. Prolonged digging eventually, in 2013, connected ODB with the dived 'Whybro extension’ of Ogof Llyn Du 2. See a video of their work in the dig: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z8uwpx_dIqE

Extensive digging in ODB broke into Ogof Llyn Du 2 in 2012 and now provides a dry route into this part of the system (See photos below).

ODB, LLyn Du 1 and 2 and Parc Western shaft have all now been connected: A through trip was made ( via the sump between Llyn Du 2 and 3, and the gravel crawl between 3 and Parc Western ) in the Summer of 2014 by five NWCC members. The trip is reported as being "very high maintenance re syphoning the sump between ODB and Llyn Du 2, and the sandy crawl between 2 and 3 needing constantly re-digging, so not been done since".

An excavated 15m crawl passage enters an east-west stream passage (Ragman Passage) 120m long with a sump at either end. Downstream, in dry conditions it splits into two and cannot be explored further. Both downstream passages terminate close to the site of the former resurgence of Ffynnon Wen. Water resurging from Grand Turk Passage also met here and surfaced near this point before mining lowering the local water table.

Access: Gated and locked. Contact NWCC
The original article describing the discovery of Ogof Llyn Du was first published in Caves & Caving Number 33 August 1986.
The article describing the successful diving of the upstream sump into Ogof Llyn Du 2 by Paul Whybro, was first published in Caves & Caving Number 36 Summer 1987.

Ogof Llyn Du 1: One of the smaller calcite gour dams

Ogof Llyn Du 1: Towards the upstream sump

Ogof Llyn Du 1: Kitting up for the second attempt, this time by Noel Williams

Ogof Llyn Du 2 Photo Joel Colk

Ogof Llyn Du 2 Photo Joel Colk

Ogof Llyn Du 2 Photo Joel Colk


Ogof Llyn Parc Length: Over 4 km Esclusham Mountain
(Also known simply as ‘Pool Park’)

The main caves of Esclusham Mountain
Based on surveys by North Wales Caving Club in 'Limestones & Caves of Wales' (1989) edited by Trevor D. Ford

Source: Caves & Caving The Bulletin of the British Cave Research Association Number 37 Autumn 1987
A more up-to-date survey was being completed in 2012 and should now be available. Contact NWCC for further information

The largest cave in North Wales with a vertical range of 115m. Access is through mine workings, the entrance being a 92m pitch followed by two further pitches of 18m. A mine passage is then followed through a scaffolded dig, to where it emerges in the side of a natural river passage 3m high and 7m wide. The passage soon becomes larger as the river is followed downstream. There are a variety of interesting routes and some passages, such as Master Passage are up to 6m wide x 11m high. The system has four main inlets which enter from the north or west and the cave drains in a north-easterly direction passing through the Great Cavern near Western Shaft. Water then drains into the adjoining cave of Ogof Llyn Du 2, from where it originally emerged at the spring of Ffynnon Wen. The cave is varied and impressive, although the river passage is formed in Lower Brown Limestone and can appears rather gloomy.
ODB, LLyn Du 1 and 2 and Parc Western shaft have all now been connected: A through trip was made ( via the sump between Llyn Du 2 and 3, and the gravel crawl between 3 and Parc Western ) in the Summer of 2014 by five NWCC members. The trip is reported as being "very high maintenance re syphoning the sump between ODB and Llyn Du 2, and the sandy crawl between 2 and 3 needing constantly re-digging, so not been done since".

Discovered by miners no later than 1862 but re-entered by NWCC in 1984.

Access: The entrance shaft is gated and locked. Contact NWCC who operate a guide system and organise regular winch trips.

For an overview of Minera Caves see:
The original article describing the discovery of Ogof Llyn Parc was first published in Caves & Caving Number 37 Autumn 1987.

Photo: Brendan Marris

1800s lead miners graffiti Photo: Brendan Marris

Photo: Brendan Marris

Photo: Brendan Marris


Ogof Malwen SJ25465200 Length 81m Gwynfryn

(Snail Cave)

The cave was first found to exist by cavers taking resistivity readings on the hillside above the cave in the late 1960s. A quick dig in the wall of a mine shaft crater revealed the entrance and 15m of stooping-sized passage with a 6m high aven on one side.

in 1973, Graham Baldock, Mike McCarthy and the writer had recently started caving, and were searching for the nearby Ogof Dydd Byraf. Finding Ogof Malwen by chance, they excavated where the known passage ended (the deposits were non-archaeological sediments). After excavating a crawl of 2m, new passage was entered 66m in length, much of it of walking height (but with a further short crawl part way along). The cave ends at a clay blockage which pools up in wet weather. Although muddy, it could be extended with further work, but only in the dry summer months.

The cave is likely to connect with the nearby Ogof Dydd Byraf .

A hole in the floor about 20m from the entrance (see photo below) was excavated vertically in 1973 for 1.5m to where the roof of a passage 1m wide could be seen running off horizontally (Source: Writers diary 15/7/1973). This dig appears to have remained flooded since its excavation, but could be worth examining in drought conditions.

The entrance lies below a small outcrop which forms the south wall of a blocked shaft crater overlooking the quarry. The easiest access is from above via the World's End road, approaching the cave from the south.

The entrance lying to the side of a mine crater, in 2016 Photo: Dominic Gillespie

1973: Graham Baldock lying in the trowel-excavated dig leading to the new extension

Main passage beyond the first dig in 2012 Photo: Dave Tyson

Another view of the main passage in 2012 Photo: Dave Tyson


Ogof Mwd SJ225453 Length 25m South of World’s End
(Mud Cave)
A tight muddy passage ends at a flowing sump. Appears to end at impenetrable fissures.
Just west of Bryn Goleu Farm in the gully leading up from the Ty Nant Gorge.


Ogof Mwynglawdd SJ25045136 Length 145m Gwynfryn

(Mine Cave)

Access to the cave is via Stewart's Shaft, about 40m or so in depth. A crawl follows of about 5m then a 2m climb down into the main cave with some formations. Although not extensive, the cave has potential and a draught.

Contact NWCC for details.


Ogof Nadolig SJ19036559 Length 250m Alyn Gorge

(Christmas Cave)

Survey kindly supplied by NWCC

Originally intersected by miners at four different points. The first caver to enter was Mike Chalton, the week before Christmas 1973.

A 4m deep entrance shaft is followed by a hands-and-knees passage to the foot of an awkward rope climb. At floor level is 'The Blasted Crawl', a squeeze which leads to a 10m pot and ends at a blockage of miners deads. Taking the rope climb up, the passage becomes low and a little damp before entering a couple of chambers. A squeeze at floor level just before the end chamber enters a short mined passage and the foot of Valentine's shaft which is locked at surface (contact GCC for key).

From SJ183656 take the track which runs east on the north side of the valley towards the sewerage treatment plant. Park about 100m before the plant then walk directly up the hillside and slightly to the left (west). Entrance is about 30m above river level marked by a steel fabrication resembling a porthole.

The late Mick McCarthy at the entrance shaft as found in 1975, sealed with a large boulder

The entrance shaft today Photo: Nigel Dibben

The 'Blasted Crawl'

Valentine's Shaft entrance Photo: Ian Adams


Ogof Noeth SJ2325846867 +/-10ft Length 100m World’s End

(Naked Cave)


A small hole at the foot of one of the mountain's many shakeholes was enlarged by GCC in 1986 when Steve Burzio was the first to enter. A series of tight passages with great potential for the slim enthusiast armed with Hilti caps & battery drill (to remove a corner or two). Several passages have corresponding passages 0.5m below them which do not show on the plan above.

Named Ogof Noeth as it was initially necessary to remove clothing to gain entry.

A difficult cave to find in featureless terrain, requiring a GPS device.
From World's End, take the footpath from the ford past the short mine trials and continue up through the gorge. Emerging onto open moorland, a track is found which skirts the forest. Take this to the right for about 100m to a low point on the track. Bear left from here up a slight ‘valley’ for about a mile. Use of a GPS is needed from here.

The entrance in 1986

The entrance to Ogof Noeth in 2010

Looking vertically down the tight entrance Photo: Dave Tyson

One of the more spacious passages Photo: M. Murphy


Ogof Pistyll Gwyn 1-3 SJ190577 Llanarmon-yn-ial
(White water fountain cave: named after the quarry)

Three short caves in the disused Pistyll Gwyn Quarry. A fourth cave of 25m was found in 1973 in the south-east face about 12m above the quarry floor, but the entrance has been quarried and the cave is now lost. The same fate became an active cave which now lies below the quarry floor and can be seen to issue spouts at several locations in flood conditions. A dig in the quarry floor revealed a north-south active rift passage, but this was blocked by boulders where the roof has been removed by quarrying (see the two photos below).....

Entrance to rift passage running under the quarry floor
(entrance now covered with a mound of soil)

Blockage in rift passage (see toe of boot for scale)

Cave 1: Length: 70m

A stooping-sized phreatic tube descends at about 20 degrees for 30m. It then bends to the right where an 8m long canal is met in a passage up to 2m high. This sumps immediately to the left and has been dived for 21m to a depth of 10m to a low bedding passage. To the right the roof soon lowers to about 20cms above water level. This duck is about 3m long after which walking is again possible for a few metres. The passage then lowers to sump 2. This has been dived and descends to a depth of 8m to "a blockage which could be dug" (Welsh Sump Index. Cave Diving Group journal 1986).

Upstream sump first dived in Summer 1984 by Paul Whybro.

Several other dives in 1985 by Neil Robertson pushed the sump to 21 metres.

In wet weather the canal becomes active and the water level can rise and resurge in the quarry floor.

The entrance was blocked in November 2007 as a result of landscaping work and now lies under soil and boulders. A quick dig down through boulders should reveal the entrance.

At the far north end of the quarry, just behind piles of loose rock close to quarry floor level (see location photos below, although further material was added above the entrance after the photos were taken. The entrance now lies about 3m down).

Location of obscured entrance

Upstream sump: Cave 1 Photo: Dave Merchant

Looking downstream from Sump 1: Cave 1 Photo: Dave Merchant

Cave 2: Length: 15m

A crawl to a junction after 3m. Straight on gets too tight and is close to the quarry face, but to the right is a very tight descending tube which has been pushed to a limit of 12m where it really is too tight.

Take the ramp on the right-hand side of the quarry up to the first bench. Follow this around to the far north-west end of the quarry. The crawl entrance can be seen ahead just beyond a blasted scree slope.

Ogof Pistyll Gwyn 2

Cave 3: Length: 2m

A rift-shaped pot about 4m deep. Now partially filled with boulders.

Beyond the far north end of the quarry above Cave 2, about 20m north of the cliff face.


Ogof Rhewl SJ06606252 Length 25m Llanrhaedr, near Ruthin
(Rhewl Cave)
A hands-and-knees passage turns right after a few metres then enters a 4m high small vertical rift. A keyhole-shaped passage leads off to the north. The lower keyhole section takes a tiny winter stream but seems too tight. The upper section is dry and silted and has been excavated for about 8m by the late Tony Jarratt, Cambridge University Caving Club and the writer in the late 70s. Water sinking here resurges at Ffynnon Ddyfnog at Llanrhaedr. (see also Ty Mawr Reservoir Sink).
Sink to resurgence distance = 1568m. Sink to resurgence height diff.= 100.8m.
First explored by H. Owen of Denbigh in the 1960s.
See area survey below.
From the road at the above NGR, a rough track to the north services a few houses. At the end of this, climb over the gate on the right and walk about 60m through rough scrub to a shakehole with the entrance at the bottom.

Ffynnon Ddyfnog and its sinks
This plan was drawn by the late Tony Jarratt who worked for Ordnance Survey at the time
The limestone boundary information was taken from detailed Geological Survey sheets.
It also shows the faulting likely to influence the cave's formation.


Ogof yr Iwrch SJ190593 Length 6m Llanferres
(Cave of the roebuck)
Although excavated by J. D. Blore of Wallasey, n o archaeological finds were revealed and the excavation was abandoned due to the discovery of chemical contamination of the site.
Access: Request permission from Mr Jones at the bungalow at SJ19225911, but the contamination renders the site rather unsafe.

Errors by CPAT added to the Historic Environment Record (HER)
The poor information provided by CPAT (PRN 54854) below could have been avoided simply by communicating with John Blore.......
"No details are available of the material that was discovered, although the name given refers to a roebuck suggesting bones of this animal were recovered. The cave site was not identified, the only possible evidence revealed was along a W-facing limestone escarpment, where a badger sett in a natural hole was found at SJ 1902659274 and what appeared to be an old mine shaft at SJ 1897559221". (Caves Scheduling Enhancement Project, CPAT site visit 11/3/2009)

Photo: John Blore


Old North Rising SJ19126558 Length 15m Alyn Gorge
Entrance is a 10m long mine level which runs north into a natural chamber. A dig in the floor was carried out between 1974 and 1976, then resumed in 1997. The excavated passage now descends steeply to the present limit at a depth of about 12m. Before local water tables were lowered by mining, water resurged from the mine entrance. The site is marked as 'cave' on old maps. To the west from the entrance chamber is a run-in shaft. This was dug through some years ago to several small natural chambers ending within metres of the east end of Ogof Nadolig

Access: Contact GCC for the key.

Park as per directions for Ogof Nadolig. Then walk towards the treatment plant. The entrance is about 20m before the gate, over the pipe on the left.

Excavation work in the 1970s


Orchid Cave SJ2000260506 +/-10ft Length 13m Maeshafn Archaeological (human)
An entrance 1m+ high is followed by a steeply descending passage about 7m long. The passage then turns to the right and continues descending more gradually for at least another 6m.
The cave was first excavated by Tony King and members of North Wales Caving Club in 1981 (Source: NWCC newsletter No 100, April 1981). This source also mentions another cave 100 metres to the south being "a long slit at the base of a low outcrop", and a third cave a further 100 metres south described as "a short crawl leads to a section over 2m high at a distance of about 6m". These other two caves may now be occupied by badgers, their entrances being obscured by burrowing (personal communication with John Blore 2012).

PDF download:
The artifacts from Orchid Cave were identified in 1981 by
self-taught cave archaeologist Mel Davies. They include remains of three human individuals and a rare bone toggle with incised decorated markings. His list of finds can be downloaded as a PDF at the very bottom of this page, entitled: Bone identification by Mel Davies .

Roughly 100 metres east of Maeshafn Cave. Difficult to find without a GPS being in the midst of woodland.

Archaeological notes

Mel Davies states (see 'Bone Identification' PDF at very bottom of this page) that the surface spoil heap had not been sieved, hence it may contain items of archaeological importance today.
It appears that no archaeologist was present during the excavations and sadly no report was published: It is the opinion of most archaeologists (and cavers) that excavation of a proven archaeological site without publishing the results, is considered an act of gross vandalism.
Although archaeologists were informed of the finds at the time of their discovery, CPAT did not see fit to protect the cave from further damage by scheduling.
Non-archaeological digging of bone-bearing deposits continued for some years after 1981 by persons unknown, although they did
save the bones they discovered which they left in a plastic bag within the cave. These were found and removed for safe-keeping by John Blore and can be seen in an image below.

A C14 date for human bone is provided by the National Museum of Wales as being 4,830+/-100bp (OxA-3815).
Mel Davies's illustration of the bone toggle was published ( without crediting the source) in a 1982 article in 'Clwyd Archaeology': "Caves in Clwyd' by Clwyd Powys Archaeological Trust (by K. Brassil & G. Guilbert).
The bone toggle with peg and a flint scraper are currently held by the National Museum of Wales (accession no: 83.55H).

In attempting to pin-point Orchid Cave, t wo site visits by CPAT resulted in two different grid references. Compounding the error, they named these as 'Orchid Cave 1' and 'Orchid Cave 2'. After this website informed CPAT of the error, it was corrected in the Historic Environment Record (HER) to just the one 'Orchid Cave'. However, because CPAT cannot remove a faulty record once it has been created (pers. comm Frances Lynch of CPAT), they have applied a new (April 2012) name of 'Clwyd Forest Cave' (PRN 34750) to the non-existent 'Orchid Cave 2'. Hard to believe, but true!

Archwilio ref: PRN 103035

SMR: 103035

Excavation: 1981

Curation: National Museum of Wales, Cardiff (92.23H)

Burials: 3+

Finds: Bone artefacts, flint scraper, animal bones

Date: Neolithic (1)

14C: 4170 bp (OxA-3817) on human bone

Source: http://caveburial.ubss.org.uk/wales/wales.htm

Bone peg and 11cm long incised toggle from Orchid Cave
Courtesy of Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust (Photo Ref: CS81-002-0018)

Human and animal remains rescued from Orchid Cave Photo: John Blore
Many of the bones in the bag have been damaged by digging implements

Rope haulage system aiding excavation in the descending entrance passage


PDF Downloads below:

Click on the title to open
Bone Identification by Mel Davies.pdf (1436k) [1981]
Colomendy 1.pdf (560k) [Melvyn Davies, ex Cambrian Caving Council Annual Journal 4 (1977-78)]
Colomendy 2.pdf (532k) [Melvyn Davies, ex Cambrian Caving Council Annual Journal 5 (1978-79)]
Ogof Colomendy Earliest references.pdf (386k) [Melvyn Davies, ex North Wales Caving Club Newsletters 32 (1975), 41 (1976)