The following letter has been circulated by Natural Resources Wales for the attention af all cavers and caving clubs active in North Wales, specifically the Alyn Gorge Caves:
Alyn Valley Woods and Alyn Gorge Caves, Site of Special Scientific interest (SSSI)
As you may be aware, a swallow hole has opened up within a cave next to the River Alyn, just to the north-west of the Devil’s Gorge.
Over the past few weeks, two dogs and an owner have had to be rescued from the swallow hole. It is clearly, therefore, a risk to people’s safety within the Country Park.
Denbighshire County Council has been in contact with Natural Resources Wales as the cave and swallow hole lie within Alyn Valley Woods and Alyn Gorge Caves SSSI (and also with the Alyn Valley Woodlands Special Area of Conservation).
The SSSI has been notified for its semi-natural woodland, calcareous and neutral grasslands, a number of rare species and the geological interest of the cave system. This cave system consists of the three cave systems of Ogof Nadolig, Ogof Hesp Alyn and Ogof Hen Ffynhonau.
Natural Resources Wales is aware that people have accessed the swallow hole and excavated materials.
We would advise that cavers should be made aware that it is an offence under s28P of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) to intentionally or recklessly destroy or damage any of the flora, fauna, geological or physiographical features of interest.
Cavers should also be aware that the cave is a known hibernation site for lesser horseshoe bats. Bats and their roosts are protected under the provisions of Regulation 41 of the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 (as amended) and Section 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended). It is an offence to kill, injure or disturb bats and or damage or destroy their breeding sites and resting places and or obstruct access to a place of shelter.
Natural Resources Wales is currently working with Denbighshire County Council to design and install grilles under licence to ensure the swallow hole is safe.
Once the grill has been installed and access can be controlled, we would be happy to meet with caving clubs and Denbighshire County Council to discuss any possible future explorations projects you may wish to undertake. If permission was to be granted for exploration following construction of the grill, we would wish this to be open to all the caving groups to work together.
Raymond Roberts, Senior Geologist
Richard May, Conservation Officer