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Visit to Ogof Draenen


Well-known member
Morning All,
A group of now middle aged cavers are considering a visit to Draenen. Politics aside, access seems to be straightforward and documented on the PDCMC website.

I've been reading up on the description as none of us (6) have visited before. We plan to visit on Saturday 12th March.

1. Is it possible to get a reasonable sightseeing trip without the need for any gear (i.e. ladders / SRT) ?
2. Would anybody like to guide us in exchange for beer?

Thanks in advance,



Well-known member
I suggest you PM the Old Ruminator. He was in there a few weeks ago and can enlighten you. Having not been in there for 30 years he found the entrance series more challenging than he remembered!

David Rose

Active member
You don't need any gear.

It's quite a complicated place - don't get lost!

The entrance series can be impassable if there's been a lot of rain.

Andy Farrant

Active member
You can get to most places in Draenen without any gear. There is a short pitch in the entrance series just before the Cairn which can be freeclimbed, but a ladder may be helpful. Good trips as a sightseeing visit include a trip to Megadrive and the Nunnery via Indiana Highway, or up Gilwern Passage to Old Iltydians chamber, or Upstream Passage. Raider's Passage is a nice trip too. The Entrance Series has a few crawls and boulder squirms, but nothing too difficult, and with a bit of care you can stay mostly dry even in the drop just after the wet crawl. It has to be a pretty extreme flood to become impassable. But take a survey (there is/was one on the wall in Whitewalls you can photograph).

The Old Ruminator

Well-known member
I dont know if the gate has been replaced as yet. Depending on where you go you do not need any gear though I would take a 5m ladder for the knotted rope climb. Downstream the traverse was awkward for us over 70's and a couple of slings were handy. Expect to get wet in the entrance series and anyone large might find the vertical squeeze a problem. Further downstream the pools get deeper so keeping warm is a problem. Use the Wonderbra route and look up coming out.  Keep track of the route going in so you dont go wrong coming out as we did .

Look here-


The traverse.

Knotted rope climb.

Pools downstream.

The big boulder points to the way out.

Route details uploaded to phone.

Scaffolded dig entrance series.

Cairn Junction

Crap image of the flying slab at Wonderbra.

Have a good trip. We did.


Active member
The passages to visit mentioned above are all good.

A good intro trip to Draenen is to make your way down to Cairn Junction, then turn left and follow Upstream Passage either as far as the lovely isolated section of cracked mud floor or carry on through the choke (short easy crawl) to the end of the big passage, where there is a little grotto. Return to Cairn Junction and head to Tea Junction via Wonderbra. Turn right at Tea Junction, up the mud/boulder slope into Gilwern Passage (nice passage with formations). Turn around at or just beyond the inlet falling out of the ceiling into a pool. Back at Tea Junction again, turn right (downstream) and follow the bouldery passage until, just beyond the traverse in TOR's photo, you drop down through boulders into the streamway proper. Go as far as the First Boulder Choke. The streamway is nice, with small cascades and plunge pools and a reasonable amount of calcite. Make your way back to Tea Junction again and for variety, follow the main passage back to Cairn Junction rather than Wonderbra. There are a few boulder climbs but they are easy in this direction. Head out from Cairn Junction. Did this trip before Xmas and we were underground 5 hours, we weren't rushing and I took some photos.

The entrance series does not become impassable in heavy rain. Some people take a lifeline for the 4m climb just before Cairn Junction and others even take a ladder.

The gate has apparently recently been repaired so you will need to obtain a key.

I might be available for guiding duties but it's a bit far off to be sure. Keep in touch.  (y)


Well-known member
We are drawing ever closer to the trip. Thank you all for the advice given above.
Sadly Huge has other commitments - but my original offer to exchange beer for a guide still stands...


Stuart France

Active member
I'm sorry to see here that you've had problems finding any leader.  I need to pick up the data from my visitor counters as it's 9 months since I've looked at them.  As part of that I need to make a trip to Snowball and could do that on 12th March.

I think this could also serve as a good first trip for you, passing Midwinter Chambers with all the crystal on the walls and floor.  There is no need of any climbing gear, not much grovelling, mostly dry, you can see some of the big passages like Megadrive.  There's lots of possibilities.

Once you know your way to Snowball, then future big trips beyond there to MSD and all the pretty stuff beyond that, and Reactor / War of the Worlds are more easily within your reach.

Contact me via the Cambrian website if interested.


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Active member
Hi Chris, sorry I'm not able to show you round Draenen as I'm working on that weekend but here's something to hopefully add interest to your visit.

Pwll Du is an interesting place in it's own right, never mind the huge cave system that's under it! Here is an interesting news report from when the village of Pwll Du was demolished in 1963. In the video, you get to meet some of the residents and see some of the village but Pwll Du also has an amazing industrial history, which was mostly (all?) gone by the time the village was demolished. Quarries, coal mines, tramroads, inclines, a coal mine that was re-engineered into the longest tunnel in the country used by horse-drawn trams, reservoirs, a water balance lift system and an iron forge!