Go underground on a family adventure to explore the caves of Dan-yr -Ogof. CARYS THOMAS finds what's in store 500 ft under.

THE Dan yr Ogof, National Showcaves Centre for Wales are situated in Abercrave near Swansea and attract between 70,000 and 75,000 visitors a year.

There are three different caves at the site the bone cave, traditional cave and cathedral cave. The Dan-yr-Ogof, traditional cave is 800 metres walk and consists of the frozen waterfall which is seven metres wide and three metres high, it is a formation of flowstone which has been formed as water has flown over minerals collecting their coloured stain.

Visitor will be able to see the shower bath which is surface water from the mountain which has made its way through the limestone.

The bone cave Ogof-yr-Esgyrn is a small cave which derives its name because of the discovery of 42 human skeletons which have been found in its chamber. Many of bones date back to the Bronze Age over 3000 years ago.

Various animals have sheltered there through the years, the eldest animal bones have been identified as that of the red deer which is more than 7000 –years- old. Items such as bone pins, pottery, coins, iron, bronze and silver rings have been found in the cave, as well as relics dated to the time when Roman Legions were stationed in the area.

The Cathedral cave is a small tunnel like cave above Dan-yr-Ogof farm. In 1953, members of the South Wales Caving Club blasted a way through the boulders at the end of the cave to find a large passage which was decorated with thousands of delicate cave formations.

The centre has 10 attractions in total at the site which includes Iron Age Village, dinosaur park, museum, stone circles, shire horse centre, the farm and Barney’s playbarn.

James Price, director of National Showcaves Centre for Wales,said: “Above ground families can enjoy the 250 life-size dinosaur models which are a massive draw for children. It is one of the world’s largest life-size dinosaur parks.

“We have everything here for a great day out for all ages. We also attract archaeologist and geological interest.”

The centre have constructed a farm from the Iron Age which you can view the huts made of wooden frames and straw roofs. Full-sized replicas of stone monuments have been erected at centre to mark the Millennium.

The caves were first explored in 1912 by Tommy and Jeff Morgan who used candles to light their way and arrows in the sand to find their way back. They discovered a wonder of stalactites and stalagmites but were prevented from penetrating far into the mountain by a lake.

They returned with a fishing boat and discovered more passages and chambers, but the tight space prohibited their exploration. The space was not explored further until 1963 when Eileen Davies, a member of the South Wales Caving Club got through it.

Since then 10 miles of caves have been discovered and cavers believe there is still more to be found.

The caves are open seven days a week until November 2 from 10am with tickets available until 3pm. Adults cost £13.75, children between three and 16-years-old cost £9 and children under two-years-old are free of charge.

For more information contact 01639 730 284 or visit www.showcaves.co.uk.

We have two family tickets (2 adults and 2 children) up for grabs. To be in with a chance of winning, just tell us how many lifesize dinosaur models there are at Dan-yr-Ogof Showcaves. Send your answer, name, address and contact details on a postcard to Dan-yr-Ogof Showcaves Competition, Editor’s PA, South Wales Argus, Cardiff Road, Newport, NP20 3QN or you can enter by text. Start your message with SHOWCAVES, leave a space and then send your answer, name and address to 80360. Messages cost 50p plus your normal operator text charge. Service provided by Newsquest Media Group. Terms and Conditions at www.southwalesargus.co.uk/competitions. Closing date: 18th May.