Poachers (Ogof Hen Ffynhonnau)

Grid reference SJ 1910 / 6550

Altitude 480 feet

Length 2624 feet


About 100 yards upstream of Hesp Alyn the river intersects an unnamed mineralised cross course which is the site of the old dyers adit. The Northern Pennine Club started digging here in June 1978 and a natural passage was detected. Due to holidays they did not recommence digging until September, when they discovered that their dig had been pirated. The culprits were two members of the North Wales Caving Club, hence the name Poachers.

Cave Description

An entrance crawl of 20 feet leads to a pitch of 15 feet (ladder). Right leads to a boulder choke at the original exit end of the adit; at the foot of this on the left is a small hole leading into the Old springs passage. This starts as a crawl on a solid rock floor bearing large scalloping markings, which indicate an outward flow of water. The flat roof is deeply dissected asymptomatically, there being little of the thin limestone bed remaining to support it. Further along the solid floor gives way to silt and at the sides of the passage are mudbanks, the remains of a previous infill. These banks are present everywhere in the cave with the exception of the lower streamway.

Soon the passage begins to gain height, becoming alternately of walking and stooping dimensions with the higher parts above the mudbanks and bearing some moonmilk. The passage varies in cross section from the traditional oval phreatic tube to triangular.

Before long, the passage intersects the Caleb Bell crosscourse. Here the nature of the cave changes dramatically, the fault having been dissolved out into a high rift. There are chambers with excellent examples of cracked mud floors. One exit from the chamber is a climb up to the right, which terminates in a circular shaft. The left exit leads to a chamber with a mud slope floor below a rock bridge. At the bottom of the slope are two holes. On the right is a steeply sloping, extremely muddy tube ending in a vertical drop; the other on the left is a clean circular shaft. The bottom of this shaft can be reached from the lower streamway.

The way on from the holes in the floor is up a muddy slope into a mud floored phreatic tube leading, via a small chamber to the top of a steep mud bank. At the bottom of the slope is a large cavern sporting an active streamway. To the right the passage is large, being 17 feet wide by 15 feet high in places, but to the left the water dissappears amongst the boulders to enter a more constricted highly shattered region as it follows the fault down towards Ogof Hesp Alyn. It is possible to explore via unsafe chambers, to a point at the bottom of the holes encountered earlier and beyond, through very muddy tubes to a rift. Ahead across a static pool, a second small stream enters from a boulder choke, while down to the right is a slot 5 feet deep. At the bottom the slot continues as a tight low crawl from which issues the roar of the main water.

The upstream section from there the river is met continues its grand proportions for a while, but eventually the mud banks close in, the roof lowers, and one is forced to crawl in water for a few feet in two places. Beyond the low sections the roof rises quickly to around 15 feet and a few stalactites are seen. Before long a circular chamber 45 feet in diameter by about 35 feet high is entered, containing on the right a huge stalagmite boss with accompanying flowstone cascade above.

There are two exits from the main chamber. To the left is a descending shattered rift which, in wet times, fills completely and from which a large amount of water flows to swell what is normally the main streamway.

Across the chamber the main stream continues along a passage 9 feet by 9 feet, which contains some passable formations. The roof lowers to 1.5 feet at a point where the stream enters on the right. Here a slide up a muddy slope leads to a final enormously shattered chamber whose roof is suspended by magic. Tree roots can be seen, and traffic in the car park can also be heard.


Poachers is an easy cave, a good introduction for novices. Note however, that both Poachers and Hesp Alyn are prone to flooding, and you'd get stuck for weeks, not days..

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Last modified on: 19th January 2015 by email the webmaster

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