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Extensions On Llangattock Mountain

By Mark Lumley

A few months ago the Crew started speculating about likely places to dig in Agen Allwedd with a view to a Hard Rock Connection.  Superimposing a grid of probable fault lines onto a survey of caves of the CWM Clydach Catchment, it became apparent that both Daren and Aggy largely follow a set pattern through the mountain.  Passages head predominantly from NNW-SSE interrupted by minor holdups and switchbacks which almost invariably head off to the East.  A logical assumption was that the 12 O'clock High boulder choke was held up on a major fault running down through the Trident passage in Aggy. I drew on a passage heading NNW from this point and, assuming that it behaved in the same way as those on either side projected it through a point very closed to Gothic Passage (Southern Streamway) and on up to Midnight Passage (Just off the second boulder choke in Aggy).

Fish used to dig Gothic Passage back in the 60's.  His description of it sounded very much like parts of Hard Rock. Blitz and I went to look at Midnight Passage.  I burst out laughing when we climbed into it.  It's identical to the Rock Steady Cruise - crystal covered walls, constricted switchbacks, undulating red roof etc.

We wrote to Bill Gascoigne of the Aggy Committee requesting permanent key and permission to dig Gothic Passage and Midnight Passage.  The key was granted, Midnight was O.K. to dig but the Gloucester C.C. and Chelsea S.S. had both started digging in different parts of Gothic.

Preliminary digs in Midnight by teams of BEC and UC4 made minor extensions but a large rubble cone fallen from an aven blocks the way on.  Work continues and looks very promising.

Meanwhile, on the 11th of January, the two Rival digging groups down at Gothic Passage both made breakthroughs, the Gloucester finding 400ft of Railway Tunnel sized passage and the Chelsea about 1200ft of wide bedding passage with occasional chambers.

The following weekend Jim Smart and I drove over to Whitewalls and were amused to see two somewhat over manned digging teams heading down the cave in search of 'caverns measureless!!'  We followed them down early in the evening.

The Chelsea extension (Renaissance) is excellent despite several long, low crawls.  Crystals cover the walls and there are some fine walking passages.  Again, it's similar to Hard Rock.  Jim and I arrived at the end to find the four remaining Chelsea cavers digging out a sand choke.

We joined in and an hour later broke through into another 180 foot of open passage ending in another straightforward sandy dig.  The end of this passage is right next to the first sump in Aggy and it looks likely to connect to 'a dry' inlet between sumps in the May time series.

Meanwhile, the Gloucester group had broken through again into extensive walking passage broken up with occasional crawls.  Large Avens in both extensions suggest the presence of a higher series.  This extension is heading South East, straight towards the terminal boulder choke of the Hard Rock.

In all about a mile of passage has been explored so far.  Both extensions follow the lines of our projected passage extensions with almost alarming accuracy.  Needless to say, the crew are back down at Hard Rock next weekend as a race is clearly on with a connection definitely on the cards in the near future.