More Guidance on Public Changing; Tree Overhanging Sychryd; and Porth yr Ogof Information

A few more information messages – apologies if some of these are a little late…

Public Changing

Following our recent request / reminder that providers “make appropriate arrangements for clients to change discreetly”, we were asked for further guidance on what is considered acceptably ‘discreet’ – so here are some additional thoughts from Brecon Beacons National Park Authority, for areas where there are no changing facilities available (particularly in ‘Waterfalls Country’, but this guidance surely applies wherever we work):

“Providers should use vans as screens to the maximum extent; and manage their group so that horseplay or other unreasonable behaviour does not form part of the changing procedure – and certainly there must be no nakedness on display. As long as toileting is done elsewhere and sufficiently large towels are used for changing, then I guess we cant ask for much more given the lack of facilities. Clients should act as if their grandmother is watching!
Large Tree Hanging over Sychryd Gorge
We have been alerted to “a very large tree that looked like it was ready to fall, positioned right on top of the main cliff and overhang in the top of the Sychryd Gorge (by the main climbing area above the cascade falls). If it were to fall it would land on top of the path that many groups use.” NRW will be taking a look at it, but in the meantime please take appropriate precautions in this area (in addition to the ‘loose rock’ precautions notified recently).
Porth yr Ogof Cave Rescue / Risk Advice
A rescue of one of our members’ clients took place in February. They had got their leg stuck in a crack in a block. The leader spent a reasonable amount of time attempting to extract the limb before the rescue team were called in the interest of the student’s welfare, since the rescue team were more likely to have experience with trapped limbs. The team worked in a very professional and concise manner and freed the student relatively quickly though not easily. Many thanks and credit to the rescue team members. Those present were very impressed. The student is now fit and well and took part in the rest of the week’s activities.
This was an unusual incident and the student involved was quite small and thin in character. Many will recognise the block (see attached picture). The head level tube in the right wall of the main entrance (sometimes called the wormhole) leads to an exit point by a large block. Exit can be made right at the same level through a puddle to a standing area. Exit can also be made left into the by-pass passage. Its also possible to climb up and over the block straight ahead.
The danger now apparent is that when undertaking this manoeuvre, those with very slim limbs may let the right one enter the crack which is then vulnerable to being trapped. This will be something cave leaders may want to take into account as a now “foreseeable” event.

Porth yr Ogof Works Update

Following a recent meeting at Porth yr Ogof with the BBNPA Estate Warden, please find below an update of planned surface work in the vicinity of the cave.
1. Letterbox Aven destabilisation by water run-off from road
Water running off the road is carving a surface channel down to the fenced area at Entrance F above the Letterbox. With help from a SWOAPG Working Group, BBNPA plans to:
  • Open the drainage channel on the river side of the approach road to take most water off into the area above the main entrance closest to the car park
  • Close the drainage route under the stile to stop water finding its way to the River Right escape route
  • Create a raised open drain running diagonally from the point where water leaves the road on the Letterbox Aven side and take the remaining water from the road into the area of brambles adjacent to the road
  • Fill the existing channel that has been cut by water and tidy up this area
  • Once this is all complete, work will be undertaken to fill the voids between the large boulders at the top of letterbox aven to provide long term stability
2. Surface route between the first gate after the road leading to Entrances I & J and Resurgence
This route has become wider and muddier every year. Work will be undertaken with help from a SWOAPG Working Group to create a clear route which avoids the muddy areas and travels across the harder surfaces to enable this area to recover.
3. Escape Route River Right
Following the substantial rockfall here, the current recommendation is:
  • To remind everyone that this is an emergency exit only
  • The route is passable, but only with extreme care. The large rock perched in the slot on the climb up is not as stable as we would like and to pass it, group members are exposed to the drop on the river side of the route.  If Leaders are not happy to use this route then care should be taken to avoid being caught out by weather conditions which prevent crossing the river to leave the cave River Left
BBNPA will consider whether the perched rock can be removed. This will require consultation with the Landowner before undertaking any work here. In the meantime, the fallen tree blocking the bottom of the escape route will be removed.
4. Log Jam Dam in river
The log jam in the centre of the river in front of the main entrance will be removed with help from a SWOAPG Working Group. This dam is causing water to be diverted to the left in high water and it undermines the bank River Left, which is not a desirable situation. Other trees in the river will be removed at the same time where practicable.
5. Entrance D1
This is the entrance accessible form the back of the Maze consisting, from the inside, of a sandy crawl followed by a climb up through a slot between boulders to the surface. The slot is currently blocked by boulders, but more worryingly, there is a considerable amount of loose earth and very large boulders perched above it following the landslide. It is strongly recommended that Entrance D1 is avoided for the time being until a decision is made on whether to undertake remedial works here.
SWOAPG will be arranging a Working Party to help with these works, so if you or your colleagues are able to help, it would be greatly appreciated.


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