Ogof Capel is a fine stream cave that has a profusion of wonderful formations along the whole length of the 700 metres of streamway. The cave is gated and a leader system operates to preserve this vulnerable cave.
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A sump is soon encountered after entering the Ogof Capel entrance. This was first dived by Dave Savage in 1966 who reached a boulder choke with a stream issuing from it. In 1987 Stephen Ainley and Gareth Cooper dug through the boulder choke to enter the main Ogof Capel streamway. In late 2005 the choke at the end of Ogof Gelynnen was dug through to provide a bypass to the Ogof Capel sumps.
Ogof Capel is located in the Clydach Gorge, it's entrances situated in the side of the gorge with the cave passing under the Heads of the Valleys Road before heading under Mynydd Llangatwg.
Clydach Gorge Google map showing the location of Ogof Capel and other caves in the area.
To protect this vulnerable cave, there is a gate beyond the boulder choke. Visits to the cave are restricted to two people plus a leader on any one trip.
Contact details for the keyholders and leaders are available on the Cambrian Caving Council website
Once access to Ogof Capel was only possible to divers, passing the two sumps in the resurgence of Ogof Capel. Now a new route dug through a boulder choke in Ogof Gelynnen (named after the holly tree at the entrance) allows entry to this delicate cave to non divers. The cave is gated beyond the boulder choke after the second sump to preserve the delicate formations.
A climb up into Ogof Gelynnen enters a passage that soon degenerates into a crawl. This passes through several dug out sections to finally pass a boulder choke and enter Ogof Capel in a chamber. Here water cascades from below the boulder choke down the rocky slope of the chamber into the upstream end of Sump Two. The upper end of the chamber leads to a dangerous boulder choke. This has recently been re-engineered, but still should be treated with extreme care. At the end of the choke is a locked gate that leads through to the Capel streamway. This starts wide and low, with a small stream on the right and sediment banks on the left. A small cascade of water enters from the roof on the right and Shrimp Sump passage leads off to the left reaching a muddy sump after about 15m. Soon the passage height increases and a profusion of straws are encountered in the roof. Extreme care is needed passing the long straw formations, in some sections you have to crawl in the stream to avoid them. The only major junction in the cave is met after a flat out crawl in the stream below a beautiful straw grill.
Here Slalom Passage heads off to the right starting out in similar proportions to the main passage, but this soon degenerates into a low height passage with a sandy floor. Progress is made weaving to the left and to the right following taped routes past the groups of straws, the passage ends at a T junction, left following sandy crawls to end within sound of the main stream and to the right ending in a boulder choke.
Back at the main junction progress is again made at stream level, avoiding magnificent straws in the roof. The taped route is followed, sometimes high and sometimes low, until the passage starts to become a little more comfortable in size, but this does not last for long as you now reach a 30m long duck. There is little airspace, but plenty of room underwater so you can pass this with ease. Following the duck some low wet passage is encountered until after a sharp corner the Petrified Forest is met. This is a mass if flood damaged straws with the broken segments of straws washed up like driftwood on a beach. After crawling through the Petrified Forest the passage gains some upward gradient, and with it becomes taller and feels less flood prone. One tight rift section is then passed to lead to a junction with many impressive formations in the roof, with one particular 2m tall tree like formation found in a high level passage. Below this formation is the route onwards, this quickly taking you through the Tuppenny Ha'penny Choke into a section of much larger passage, unfortunately this does not last for long before the passage closes down to a tall narrow rift. The first section of this rift can be followed at high level, but eventually becomes too tight to make progress.
No tackle is required.
Cambrian Cave Registry for Ogof Capel
UK Caving Wiki Entry for Ogof Capel
Survey of Ogof Capel by Duncan Price
Duncan Price's website - www.sump4.com
Caves of South Wales
| Tim Stratford | ISBN: 1-871890-03-9 | Published by Cordee
The Caves of Clydach
| Tony Oldham
The boulder choke has been re-engineered, but should still be treated with extreme care.
The duck may sump in wet weather.
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