Sunday, April 15, 2012

Dan-Yr-Ogof: Caves

Croeso :: Welcome

The “National Showcaves for Wales” were first explored in 1912 by the Brothers Morgan - Geoff and Tommy. As you walk through the main cave you get to listen to Geoff and Tommy discussing their findings - it’s way more scientific than adventuresome, but you cannot help but wonder what the heck they were thinking back in 1912. As if an unlit cave isn’t scary enough on its own - meandering onwards under the hill, becoming more and more convoluted - the Morgans entered through the natural opening you can still see today - filled with the rushing water of the underground river which emerges here. You wouldn’t catch me heading underground in a woollen waistcoat, watch-chain and flat cap to see what I could find. I’d leave that to Geoff and Tommy.

Enjoy a few seconds of Geoff & Tommy Morgan discussing the "waterfall formation" with an  instructive Welsh lilt.

The natural entrance to the main showcave.

Is that Geoff? Or maybe Tommy?

The caves today are entered through a man-made entrance, safely concreted. In fact, these caves are self-tour, which means “pretty damn safe”. They are not the most spectacular caves I’ve ever toured (Jenolan retains that crown) but they are aimed at little kids and old people, whom they serve well. In addition to the caves, the woods outside are filled with concrete dinosaurs - somewhat technologically overtaken by the animated versions these days, but I guess still fun for the little ‘uns.

Fun for all.

The Iron Age village.

I thought I was being clever in scheduling a visit to the caves on a very rainy day - inside, you see! But caves are of course notorious for being wet - at least the interesting ones are still wet, the dissolved limestone busily forming the stalactites and stalacmites and all those other charming formations. There were moments when I though it might be drier outside in the rain, notably in the “Cathedral Cave” (licensed for marriage ceremonies). Rushing water - above and below - was the theme of the day in there - that, and ‘Pachabel’s Canon’ played loudly over the amplifiers.

Visit the cathedral Cave, complete with the sounds of rushing (indoor) water and background music.

Iron Age people lived in these caves, it seems, and one is full of bones. There is a re-created Iron Age village amongst the dinosaurs (I skim lightly over the confluence of ages here). The information board tells me that water played a very important role in the life of Iron Age people. They were in the right place.

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