Caves of South Wales Dragon

Will's Hole

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Overview
Will's Hole (Ogof Afon Sychryd) is the largest of the caves in this geologically interesting section of the Sychryd Gorge.
This cave is quite short, and a trip to it is often combined with visits to the other smaller caves and the Dinas silica mines that are located in the Sychryd Gorge.
Length 427m
Altitude 127m
Grid SN 91476 08001
History
The cave was first discovered on Easter Sunday in 1936 by Will Lloyd a local caver who was also a member of the Wessex Caving Club. He and caving friend Ron Male reached the top of the pitch, which marked the end of the exploration on that day. A short time later accompanied by Glyn Rees and Richard Hughes a ladder was rigged down the pitch and the rest of the cave explored. The cave was named after Will Lloyd at a time when this was still in vogue to name the cave after the discoverer. As a result of the activities in the silica mines higher up the gorge, the cave slowly silted up with the silica sand washed into the cave, eventually preventing access to the sump. Over the course of the years following the closure of the mines in 1964 a lot of the silt was washed through the cave and the sump was once again accessible. The sump was dived in 1980 by Martyn Farr to a depth of 20m and ending in a body sized tube after 36m.
Location
Will's Hole is best approached from the car park at the Dinas Rock. Following the footpath beside the Sychryd a short walk brings you to Bwa Maen - a impressive exposure of folded beds of limestone a result of the geological activity of the Neath Disturbance that has shaped the character of this gorge. The footpath ends opposite Bwa Maen and ahead a narrow and steeply ascending gorge carrying the Afon Sychryd is found. Heading up the gorge the cave is found about half way up on the left hand wall. A short climb up reaches a small ledge and the body sized entrance.
Sychryd and Hepste Google map showing the location of Will's Hole and other caves in the area
Location map - click marker to show entrance photo
Access
No known access restrictions.
Description
The entrance to the cave leads to a very short crawl to reach the top of a 2.5m freeclimb down into a rift passage. This passage doubles back and then starts to descend over the next 15m to the head of the pitch. A length of old rail track is wedged across the passage 6m back from the pitch head and can make a useful belay to approach the pitch. A selection of 8mm spits of various antiquity provide opportunity to rig the 11m pitch for ladder or SRT. Once at the bottom of the pitch a junction is reached with a passage heading off to the left and also to the right. At this point the floor is covered in a liberal coating of mud as a result of the sump backing up in very wet weather. Right at the junction heads past an oxbow to eventually reach a short climb up and a small chamber heading off to the left. Back at the junction the main way is to follow the passage to the left to reach a tall and wide passage. The passage descends over mud banks to the left following a small stream to reach the sump after about 30 m. Heading back up the passage from the sump the ceiling height increases and as height is gained the mud on the floor reduces. There are several points where parallel passages are found, but all close down after a few metres. Soon a shower inlet is reached and the cave and rock is much cleaner. In this area a nice grotto has been produced by the calcite coating of the rocks from the shower inlet. Beyond this area the passage continues to a crawl through boulders to reach the final choke and the end of the cave.
Tackle
Pitch 1 11m
References
Cambrian Cave Registry for Will's Hole
Survey of Will's Hole
Caves of South Wales | Tim Stratford | ISBN: 1-871890-03-9 | Published by Cordee
The Caves and Mines of the Sychryd Gorge | Keith Jones
Survey | LW Greenwood and AMG Trower | Wessex Caving Club | 1938
Survey | Birmingham University Spelaeological Society | 1972
Warnings
Access to the cave is via a very narrow section of gorge that can be dangerous in very wet weather.
Disclaimer
The photographs and information of this page has been provided to help cavers planning trips. Caving can be a dangerous activity, if you are interested in exploring caves please join a caving club so you can enjoy a safe introduction to this sport. Local caving clubs are listed on the links page or you can visit try caving for more options.
If you feel that any of the information is incorrect or should be updated please contact us.