Cathedral Cave


Useful Information

Location: Midway between Swansea and Brecon on A4967. M4, exit 45, A4067 to the north 32 km.
(51.831228576474984, -3.6869925918965327)
Open: APR to OCT daily 10-15.
Longer open hours during season.
[2021]
Fee: Adults GBP 16.50, Children (3-16) GBP 13, Children (0-2) free.
Groups (20+): special rates, pre-booking required.
Admission for 10 attractions including Dan-yr-Ogof cave, Bone Cave and Cathedral Cave.
[2021]
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: L=2400m
Guided tours: self guided L=330 m, D=40 min.
Photography: allowed, no tripods
Accessibility: no
Bibliography: Martyn Farr (1999): Dan yr Ogof: The jewel of Welsh caves, paperback, Gwasg Gomer, 1999, 78 pp, 52 colour photos, B&W photos, maps, surveys etc, ISBN: 1859026451. Worldamazon.com
The upper Swansea Valley contains the foremost showcave complex in the British Islands. Beyond the show caves are ten miles of passages of unimaginable beauty. This is a classic account of exploration from 1812 which is still continuing today.
Sarah Symons (2003): The Wonders of Dan Yr Ogof, paperback, Y Lolfa, 2003, 128 pp, many photos, 4 in colour, ISBN: 0862436303.
An interesting monograph on a famous show cave. A good account of the discovery in 1912 and the history of exploration since then, including the major discoveries of 1966 which were published in the Observer colour supplement.
C. Lewis Railton (1958): The Survey of Tunnel Cave South Wales, publication no 7, published by the Cave Research Group of Great Britain.
Address: The National Showcaves Centre for Wales, Abercrave, Swansea SA9 1GJ, Tel: +44-1639-730284. E-mail: contact
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.

History

1953 first explored by members of the South Wales Caving Club.
1971 at Easter opened to the public.

Description

Cathedral Cave is located right above Dan-Yr-Ogof Cave. In the beginning the cave was known as a tiny passageway, only accessible through crawling, and even worse, partly filled with water. In 1953 members of the South Wales Caving Club squeezed in for the first time and were stopped by boulders at the end. They started to move them away, even blasted their way through. And when they entered the cave behind they were quite astonished to find huge passages, even bigger chambers, waterfalls and underground lakes, and a wide selection of extraordinary speleothems. Its quite simple to understand why they named it Cathedral Cave.

The most spectacular chamber of this cave is the Dome of St. Paul's with its two waterfalls. A few decades ago the owners thought that the cave was not interesting enough, so they created tableaux scenes of cave dwellers and their lives. Fortunately this was removed several years ago, and we can see the cave again in it full glory. Cathedral Cave is available for weddings.

The cave was originally discovered in 1953 by members of the South Wales Cave Club who had to crawl along a low passage half full of water before climbing up through boulders into the entrance hall. However, today, the visitor is spared all this. The cave management have drilled an 8-foot square tunnel into the main passage and laid a wide concrete path for nearly a thousand feet into the mountain. For most of its length the passage is an average of 20 feet high and 30 feet wide, presenting a tremendous spectacle, equalled only in some of the continental caves. The 1000-watt quartz-iodine lights illuminate the passage and show up formations in the roof which were missed by the early explorers. At one point the roof is illuminated to refiect into a small lake, whilst adjacent to this is a display of local minerals and fossils, including a drip-pocket - a calcite-lined hollow beneath a drip from the roof - which is a special feature of this cave.

Cathedral Cave and Dan yr Ogof are caves of contrast, the former notable for its grandeur, the latter for its beauty. See the latter first!


Text from: Tony and Anne Oldham (1972): Discovering Caves - A guide to the Show Caves of Britain. With kind permission by Tony Oldham.