Underground Sightseeing launched in the Bannau Brycheiniog National Park over Easter – a new experience which lets visitors take half day guided trips into cave systems they wouldn’t usually be able to visit. The trips are part of a new partnership project offering a different way to explore the Bannau Brycheiniog National Park by going underground . The guided trips visit some of the bigger caverns within the extensive cave systems running under the Park. The project brings together two existing attractions – Dan yr Ogof Showcaves and Big Pit National Coal Museum – along with the guided underground tours on offer from the Outdoor activity sector.
Matt Woodfield is the Coordinator of South Wales Outdoor Activity Providers Group and he told us
“People who would never consider going caving because they think caves will be too small and scary would be much more comfortable on these underground sightseeing trips. They offer visitors the chance to go and explore caves where they can walk around easily. Each trip is led by a knowledgeable guide who can talk about how the caverns were formed as well as some of the animals and plants that live there and never see the light of day.”
Carol Williams the Bannau Brycheiniog National Park Authority’s Tourism Growth Officer helped co-ordinate the project, added
“The other partners in the project are Dan yr Ogof Showcaves and Big Pit. Both are established attractions in their own right but we wanted to market them altogether with the sightseeing trips as they each offer a different perspective on the unique experience of going underground in the Bannau Brycheiniog- for example it helps visitors to understand that visiting the Dan yr Ogof Showcaves is a unique opportunity to explore part of a much bigger cave system which stretches out into the welsh hills.”
Big Pit National Coal Museum celebrates Wales industrial past and has developed a new exhibition for this project – King Coal. Set in the hillside above the colliery the gallery recreates the underground workings and shows how miners used explosives and massive rock cutting machines to reach their prize – the coal.
Dai Price Head of Big Pit told us;
“ The underground tour at Big Pit, led by a former miner is already world famous – we hope that visitors will also roam around the site and take in King Coal and the Pithead Baths exhibitions to get the full picture –there is even more to Big Pit than you might think.”
Dan-yr-Ogof, the National Showcaves Centre for Wales was voted ‘Britain’s Finest Natural Wonder’. This popular attraction is home to Dan-yr-Ogof Cave with its beautifully lit caverns, twisting passageways, and amazing natural rock formations. The spectacular Cathedral Cave opens into an enormous chamber with underground lakes and waterfalls, and in addition to this there is Bone Cave, where 42 human skeletons dating back to the Bronze Age were found. A fantastic collection of life-sized dinosaur models, an interactive museum, Shire horse centre and farm area, and both indoor and outdoor playgrounds can also be found at Dan-yr-Ogof, the National Showcaves Centre for Wales.
James Price Director at the Showcaves explained “We are delighted to be involved in the ‘Go Underground’ project, as it helps make the fantastic subterranean world accessible to visitors who might not even realise what lies beneath their feet! The Showcaves offer a unique opportunity to explore and enjoy these naturally-formed passageways, plus visitors can also witness further reaches of the caves on our interactive museum displays, something only witnessed previously by experienced cavers!”
Further details on going underground in the Bannau Brycheiniog National Park are available at http://www.breconbeacons.org/sightseeingunderground