Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Breathtaking history

Below is my “Big Day Out” column from the Saturday, April 21, 2012, Swansea edition of the South Wales Evening Post.


Breathtaking history 
A big day out! 
RICHARD THOMAS heads to Dan-yr-Ogof Showcaves in Abercrave, Swansea. 

WHY? You don’t need Doctor Who's TARDIS to take a trip back in history. At Dan-yr-Ogof Showcaves in Abercrave, Swansea you can visit an Iron Age farm or have a talk with famed cave explorer Tommy Morgan in his Victorian kitchen. Be warned, though, you might come face to face with tyrannosaurus rex or pterodactyl along the way!
WHAT’S THE BUZZ? Located halfway between Brecon and Swansea inside the Brecon Beacons National Park, Dan-yr-Ogof Showcaves is one of the most breathtaking show cave complexes in northern Europe. There are three separate caves to explore: Dan-yr-Ogof cave, Cathedral Cave and the Bone Cave, where the remains of 42 human skeletons have been found. There is also an Iron Age village, museum and farm to visit, as well as an adventure playground for 6-10 year olds to play in.
ANY HISTORY? Early settlers farmed the land that the Dan-yr-Ogof Showcaves complex now occupies at the end of the Bronze Age, then approximately 3,000 years later, in 1912, local brothers Jeff and Tommy Morgan squeezed though a small gap in the hillside and discovered the spectacular Dan-yr-Ogof cave. Forty-one years later cavers made another discovery, Cathedral Cave, named after the awe-inspiring Dome of St Paul’s Cathedral. In a 2005 poll the caves were voted the “finest natural wonder” in Britain by Radio Times readers.
LOOK OUT FOR? Fans of Steven Spielberg’s sci-fi classic Jurassic Park will like the Dinosaur Park, one of the largest parks of its type in the world, with nearly 200 life-sized replicas of T. rexes, pterodactyls, brontosaurus and other prehistoric beasts that ruled the Earth 65 million years before mankind!
WHAT TO TAKE? All the dinosaur models are outdoors, so don’t forget to bring a raincoat or umbrella with you. Tickets cost £13.75 for adults and £7.75 for children 16 and younger. Children under three years old go free and group discounts are available when there are 20 or more people visiting together. There are also a wide range of keepsakes available to buy in Rock & Dinosaur Shop.
WHEN TO GO? Dan-yr-Ogof Showcaves will be open seven days a week now until Sunday 4 November 2012. The caves open at 10am, with tickets available throughout the day at the entrance until 3pm.
TELL ME MORE: Dan-yr-Ogof Showcaves is approximately 25 minuets from the M4, taking junction 45 and following the brown tourist signs north on the A4067 (Pontardawe). For sat-nav users the postcode is SA9 1GJ. For more information about ticket prices phone 01639 730284 or got to www.showcaves.co.uk.
Visit Richard Thomas’s website at www.richardthomassite.com.