At about 23:00 on Tuesday 22nd April, one of SMWCRT’s members received a call from a friend who was acting as “Callout” for a party of 9 caving in Agen Allwedd. The party had missed their 22:00 call out time and the contact was unsure what to do. The call was passed to Team Wardens who initiated the call out.


Initially, one local member was dispatched to Whitewalls to check for cars and/or cavers while more Wardens were placed on standby.  At Whitewalls, there were cars but no cavers and further call out was initiated.

Based on the information from the home contact, search plans were being drawn up around an Inner Circle trip when 2 of the party exited the cave.

The update from these 2 cavers changed the picture completely as it transpired that the group were not on the Inner Circle at all.

From the survey and descriptions of the route taken, Controllers were able to establish that the party had missed the turn for the Inner Circle trip and had taken the turn for Southern Streamway. Having followed this all the way down, they had reached the Lower Main Stream way and followed up stream. After a tricky climb up, the party had reached Biza passage where it was apparent that they could go no further.

7 of the party bivvied down while 2 were sent back out to find help. The 2 reported that 3 of the party in the bivvy camp were particularly cold and tired.

This was all vital information – a search plan based on an Inner Circle trip would have wasted many hours searching in the wrong place. In fact, the party couldn’t have been much further from where they were expected to be!

Two strong search parties were despatched into the cave and, several hours later, the party were located. After being warmed and fed the party were lowered back down into the Stream Passage. The 4 strongest members began their journey out while the 3 remaining cavers were given warm clothes and escorted by the remaining 7 rescuers. The trip out was slow, with all 3 party members suffering from the effects of dehydration and over-exertion. There were one or two exciting moments on the way – notably when one of the party slipped, becoming temporarily wedged in a narrow rift but steady progress was made until the final party exited the cave at 16:35, almost 28 hours after setting out!

Rescuers and Rescuees were fed hot tea and pizza – supplied once again by the ever supportive management of Waitrose in Abergavenny – and the incident was officially closed at 17:05

Well done to all the team members involved in this marathon effort and thanks again to all those who supported and were woken in the small hours of Wednesday to be put on Standby.

A mention should go to the party of cavers – After realising their mistake, the decision to bivvy down made a big difference to the outcome. The fact that they were sufficiently well equipped to be in a position to make that call should be commended.

Just one reminder for anyone acting as "Callout" - please familiarise yourselves with the correct callout procedures - click here


SMWCRT – 28/04/2014