SJ191 655 Cilcain, FlintshireDirections
From the car park at the Cilcain Bridge over the River Alyn, walk up the hill towards Pantymwyn (away from Cilcain) until you see a public footpath sign heading down a steep hill on the left. Follow this down to the River Alyn (skimming the side of a caravan park) and follow the footpath for around 300 metres where you will see an obvious entrance (hands & knees) in the rock face on the right, this is Poachers cave. Continue along the footpath for another 200 feet (ish) and, located by the bank of the river (and down a slope to reach it) you will see what appears to be a manhole cover. This is the entrance.Access
Un-gated / no permissions requiredSuggested Equipment
Electron Ladder(s) & full SRT (SRT if venturing down the cliff beyond the canal)Length
Around 1.2 milesFlood risk
The cave can flood entirely but is usually dry and when flooded it would not be possible to access the cave in the most part.Cave Attributes
30ft vertical entrance descent, plenty of walking passageways with plenty of (optional) off shooting crawls, a sand crawl tunnel, pitches & pots, a 200ft mud crawl, a “canal”, 2 sumps and many passages to explore and numerous sporting crawls.Description
The entrance requires an electron (around 30ft) which quickly brings you into a chamber which you skirt on the left. Entering the chamber, you will find a muddy descent of little interest.
Passing beyond (and to the left) of the chamber brings you to a muddy crawl through (usually) some water for around 200ft where the passage becomes a chamber with turnings to the left and right.
Turning left, the passage is, for the most part, substantial with evidence that water disappears in several places (can be seen in the silt after a flood). The passage eventually comes to what appears to be a terminal chamber although this can be passed by climbing “through the roof” which leads to another passageway. This passage becomes tight but it is possible to slip into another chamber at an apparent terminus. Once in this chamber there is again evidence of water flow (to the right) which appears too small to follow. On the left there is a low, flat out crawl that was discovered in early 2008 by UCET cavers. This requires (or required) some minimal effort digging to remove sufficient silt to allow passage.
Turning right from the 200ft muddy crawl, you pass across many huge and fallen boulders assisted at one point by a knotted rope in situ. The passage continues through a short duck where it soon offers a left hand turn.
Proceeding forwards (without taking the turn) you end up in a large and muddy terminal chamber with an awkward pitch down (apparently to nothing) and an awkward muddy slope up to the back left.
Just before this apparent terminal chamber, on the right, is a very tight “S” bend passage which is mostly concealed. This requires a sideways wriggle and drops into a small chamber. This was also discovered after a flood in early 2008 by UCET cavers (probably previously undiscovered). Once in the chamber, there is an awkward crawl to the rear which, at first look appears to go no where. However, this crawl can be negotiated sideways and leads to another chamber/rift again discovered by UCET cavers in early 2008.
Returning to the left hand turn in the passage which was ignored to reach the above area, turning left you will experience some wonderfully formed and large passageways leading to what appears to be an observation post window. A small scramble is required here where, again, a small and tight snaking passage can be found low in the right hand wall. This was discovered and excavated by UCET cavers in early 2008 and leads to a silt filled cavern which can be crawled through in two directions to at least one further (and digable) silt filled cavern.
Returning to the main passage, the tunnel continues until a sand (silt) crawl manifests. In floods this tunnel is prone to filling with sand/silt and requires re-digging. Passing through the crawl the tunnel leads to a further chamber which requires another scramble and then another awkward sideways crawl to get yourself into another in chamber. At the rear of this chamber there is a freeclimb which can be rope assisted of around 40 feet (or an electron dropped). Once up, the passage continues until a high shelf crawl can be found on the right. Crawling in this passage you will come to a tight left hand crawl which dives into an apparent sump and further still another tight diving crawl which leads to the unknown (it takes a caver of slim build to enter this and it is recommended to lash a rope around an ankle). There is also a silt filled rift chamber here which is potentially digable.
Returning again to the main passage, you will lose the floor as the left and right wall form a “V” shape with a trench of water. This leads to an short passage filled to chest height with water (which cannot be avoided).
Beyond this “canal” the passage continues to an interesting section of cave which resembles an eroded bedding plane. At the back of here is a significant pitch which requires a good knotted rope or rope/rocker or SRT which leads down to further passage which travels to and beyond two sumps and then onwards for another, circa, 1000feet.Unexplored Passages
1) Beyond the cliff beyond the canal (before and after the sumps) has not been properly explored (requires a full day)
2) At the very far opposite end of the cave a new tight tunnel appears to have become apparent following a flood, discovered in 2008.Digs
1) On a bend, by the “lookout” section of the cave, a dig has recently been undertaken which leads into a totally silted chamber. This chamber has been crossed leading to another totally silted chamber which requires further digging
2) The newly discovered passageway at the far end of the OHA requires a small dig to make it passableLinksWikipedia.orgUK CavesChris CowdryWirral Caving Club