As I mentioned last week we recently spent the weekend in South West Wales. While there, one of the places we visited was The National Showcaves Centre for Wales, more commonly known as Dan yr Ogof. It is somewhere neither Lee nor I have ever visited, although a few of the kids have been on school trips a few years ago and were desperate to go back.
If you plan to visit with babies, I would seriously consider bringing a baby carrier as there are many parts that are completely unsuitable for prams with some really steep inclines and lots of steps (there are places to leave the prams at the entrance of the caves). This wasn’t an issue for us as I favour babywearing anyway.
The first of the three caves you can explore is called Dan yr Ogof. There is actually 16km of explored caves systems but the public only have access to a small section. Even so there are some wonderful rock formations to see. The kids were fascinated and the fact that you had the Morris brothers talking about all of the sights as you walked through was great because it meant I could answer some of the questions that were thrown at me, like which ones are stalactites and which ones are stalagmites? In case you didn’t know mites go up and tites go down (which is actually a saying I learnt years ago)!
The second cave is called the Cathedral Cave. It is absolutely beautiful and it has been lit perfectly to show off it’s features. People can actually get married here which I bet is so magical! When you first walk in there are some scenes set up to show how the caves would have been used thousands of years ago, then you walk down a huge passageway with thousands of tiny straw stalactites on the ceiling and water cascading down the walls and into pools.
When you reach the bottom, it opens up into a massive cavern, called The Dome of St Paul. The path you follow down takes you between two waterfalls that are 40ft high! This section is where people get married and truly is a sight you will never forget.
The third and final cave is called The Bone Cave, due to the fact that over 40 skeletons have been found here dating back to the bronze age. It is a very steep walk, up lots of steps to reach this cave, with the final part being a covered walkway where you have to wear hard hats! The kids thought this was great, O thoroughly enjoyed wearing his and even learnt to say hat, well he repeatedly said ‘ah’ after being reminded a hundred times not to take it off, but we all knew what he meant! Most of us were okay just short enough to walk up without having to duck too much, but poor Lee was just that little bit too tall, lucky he had a hard hat on!
The cave itself is actually quite small, the entrance is only about 4 foot high, but it does open up inside, which is lucky as I’m not sure I could have crouched for long with a toddler on my back! Again they have created exhibits inside, this time of how the cave has been used over the years and the dangers the inhabitant faced.
Apart from the caves there is also an iron age village and over 200 life size dinosaurs to see. This had to be LV and O’s favourite part. O even learnt to say dinosaur, well, “dido” counts right? In the museum, the kids thoroughly enjoyed painting their own dinosaur, but not in the normal way!
Unfortunately the weather finally got the better of us so we were grateful for the undercover picnic area.
We also missed seeing the shire horses and the farm, but we did take a look at the burial chamber on our way back to the car. I love how the rain brought out the colour on the carvings.
So there you have it, our day out at Dan yr Ogof caves, a real must if you are ever in the area and you have a budding caver, or dinosaur fanatic in your family! It wasn’t cheap at just over £65 for 6 of us (O was free) but well worth it in our eyes and we will definitely be going back in the future, maybe at Christmas or Halloween when they have special events.
Have you been to Dan yr Ogof? My favourite part was the Cathedral Cave, what was yours?