Our favourite places: Dan yr Ogof caves, Wales

I last visited this place with my parents as a pre-teen, so I had a pretty sketchy memory of what it was like. In fact, all I could remember was a hazy picture of some dinasour models, the entrance to the caves, and the Shire horse centre (pretty much all me and my horse-mad sister were interested in so we sulked our way round the caves and only cheered up when we got to see the horses – our poor parents!). 

  
What we found was so, so much more!! So many people, myself included, are guilty of ignoring the treasures that surround them on a daily basis. I have been lucky enough to travel the world and visit many caves; in fact it was only when we were at Dan yr Ogof that I realised that I’ve actually become a bit of a cave tourist! The amazing lava tunnels in Masaya volcano, Nicaragua; Balancanche caves near Chitchen Itza in Mexico; Dau Go cave in Halong Bay Vietnam; and Waitomo caves in New Zealand, it turns out I have a big thing for caves! Yet I’d only ever been to Dan yr Ogof, less than an hour away from where I live, once in my life! Shame on me! As part of my resolve to be a traveller at home last weekend we finally  went, and our visit has left a lasting impression on me.

  
We visited during a very humid but thankfully dry, August day. It was pretty busy, not surprising given it was the Summer holidays. Although this didn’t ruin the experience, next time I want to go back out of school holidays as I believe this will make the cave experience even more special. 

We made a beeline for the first, longest cave system, passing through the pretty impressive dinasour park – I’m not really into dinasours but even I loved it, and our toddlers were in raptures! We took the girls in backpacks – a good move – and wore sturdy footwear. It was cold in the cave so we should have put an extra layer on the girls really but they didn’t seem to mind.

  
 We had to watch the girls’ heads and mind our step as the cave was slippery in places. The girls found it incredibly good fun, especially trying to catch the water cascading down in places. 

   
 Deep in the cave there is a beautiful natural cave sculpture which looks like an angel. It was a pretty profound moment for me due to recent personal circumstances and even my very pragmatic sister who openly admits she normally doesn’t have a spiritual bone in her body said she came over all spiritual at the sight! 

   
   
Exiting the caves into the humid dinasour park was like being in the tropics, and despite the crowds for a moment we did feel like we could be walking with the dinasours! 

   
 The second cave ‘Cathedral cave’ was perhaps even more spectacular, so grand it is in size and sculpture. Amazingly, the cave is licensed for weddings! 

   
   
We headed down the hill to the farm park and the girls were enthralled by alpacas, sheep, goats, pigs, horses and ducks, amongst many others. We didn’t get to go in the play barn as it is for children 3 and over, but we were all pretty exhausted by then anyway. 

  
The trip is pretty expensive for a family, at £13.50 per adult, although children under 2 go free. However I really think it is such good value for money – this is a world class accessible cave system and those dinasours can’t be cheap! All in all, I would highly recommend this place to anyone visiting Wales and especially to those living in Wales that have never been, with or without children. 

More info here: Dan yr Ogof website
Monkey and Mouse

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