Whilst we were exploring the Nedd Valley we decided to rig ropes and explore the lower section of the canyon, including a trip into the difficult-to-pinpoint Town Drain and the impressively wet White Lady cave.
Reaching these caves was harder work and more unpleasant than the actual trips themselves but a knowledge of ropework and setting anchors is very definitely needed in order to ease the return back up the slippery rocks and into the canyon.
Town Drain is accessed by one of three rifts in the rock face and the short passages join together, leading into one phreatic tube lined with the most fantastic scallops showing the speed and direction of the high-pressure water that flowed through and formed the cave. The main passage twists and turns and the cave heads deeper into the hillside, heading for the Little Neath River cave system that lurks behind it, with some amazing water-worn rock features to negotiate and explore! Moving around a number of corners the cave becomes lower and the floor increasingly covered by loose boulders and pebbles which make crawling quite unpleasant. The unpleasantness continues until the cave becomes more and more muddy and shows evidence of the flood debris washed in during the winter spates.
White Lady Cave has a more larger and more obvious entrance but this is guarded by deeper water which is cold enough to deter most, even in the summertime! With a certain sense of masochism we waded through the first test and climbed the slippery rocks into the impressively large interior chamber.
The flowstone and calcite features are really quite impressive within the cave passage although they were somewhat overshadowed by the sudden presence of the deepwater sump (which is often cave dived by specialists).
Our return journey led us up into the upper series which held a series of ever-increasingly captivating flowstone features and gour pools which ranged in size from centimetres to metres in size! The price for seeing this amazing display of geology came in the form of 'the lake' which is a deeper, colder and more committing water crossing, involving a duck underneath a rocky rib separating the passage into two chambers at head height! Trapped within this water was a remarkably calm Bullhead fish who seemed to rather enjoy having his photograph taken!