TWO men were rescued after spending more than 16 hours trapped inside caves in Powys last weekend.

The two men, aged 19 and 30, had been exploring the Ogof y Daren Cilau caving system in the Llangattock area, near Crickhowell. At more than 26km in size they are believed to be one of the largest and longest cave systems in Wales and indeed the UK.

The two men had been reported missing just after 8am on Saturday, January 8, and were discovered 1km underground just before 4pm by cave rescue teams.

Dyfed Powys Police said the men had left their homes in South Wales the previous day (January 7) and had been stuck in the elaborate set of vast caves for more than 16 hours, before being rescued by members of the South & Mid Wales Cave Rescue Team.

“The missing individuals were inexperienced cavers,” said Dyfed Powys Police Chief Inspector Jacqui Lovatt.

“At 8.15am on Saturday, January 8, we received a report of two males, aged 19 and 30, who had been reported missing having left their homes in south Wales the previous afternoon.

“We attended Daren Cilau Caves near Crickhowell. A search commenced involving police and the South & Mid Wales Cave Rescue Team.

“Following an extensive search they were located safe and well, following around a 1km descent by rescue teams. After an initial assessment, thankfully both missing persons were located safe and well, at 3.50pm.

“They had been stuck down the cave for over 16 hours, having gone caving on the Friday.”

Chief Inspector Lovatt added: “The cave system itself is described as one of the biggest in the UK, covering an area of approximately 40km, with a large number of varying routes available within the system.”


Ogof y Daren Cilau is one of several cave systems in the Llangattock escarpment in the south of the county, located at the foot of the Brecon Beacons.

The entrance to the cave was discovered in 1957 by Vic Howells and exploration since then has revealed it to be one of the longest cave systems in the country.

The size of the underground system is said to be well over 26km and the entrance section is supremely difficult to negotiate, making the trip into the further parts of the cave a serious undertaking. Its awkward 517 metre entrance crawl is said to be a natural barrier to any casual visitor and precludes the need for a locked gate to protect it from vandals.

Highlights of Ogof y Daren Cilau that make it so attractive to cavers include the Time Machine, said to be the largest cave passage in Britain. The White Company is a set of pure white stalactites (a mineral formation that hangs from the ceiling of caves) and the Bonsai Tree a branching helictite (a curving or angular form that looks as if they were grown in zero gravity).

Since the entrance was discovered more than 60 years ago, further investigation and the removal of debris led to an entrance in which a pool of water accumulated. The water was drained away and a 120-metre passage was revealed, ending in a boulder choke.

The major breakthrough beyond the entrance series occurred in 1984, before which the cave consisted of little more than the entrance and several uninspiring passages. In 1986 Martyn Farr connected the Terminal Sump to Elm Hole in the next valley by cave diving.