Tucked away in the hills of the Brecon Beacons is a 16-kilometre long cave system called Dan yr Ogof. This is one of Wales most fascinating natural attractions and one of the largest cave formations in Europe.
This is our review of the National Showcaves Centre for Wales also known as Dan yr Ogof. There are ten attractions in total to visit including its 3 caves, dinosaur park, museum, Iron Age farm and kids’ play area.
As you enter the Jurassic Park themed attraction the girls loved the giant dinosaurs which dominate the landscape (there is a free app you can download to interact with the exhibits at certain points throughout your trip – but I would recommend downloading this before your visit as mobile coverage is not great here).
The caves date back 350 million years and span over 16km deep in the mountainside of the Brecon Beacons. Visitors can explore three of its caves in this self-guided attraction; Dan yr Ogof, Cathedral Cave and Bone Cave, each offering a unique underground experience.
After a short walk from the entrance we arrived at the first cave network called Dan yr Ogof.
There are flash lights outside the caves to take in with you which are heavy and mostly for use in case of an emergency, however the girls insisted we take one with us to make our journey that extra bit exciting.
As you enter the caves for the first time you feel like an explorer entering a world of underground lakes, waterfalls and colourful hanging rock formations such as the “rasher of bacon”, the “angel” and the “alabaster pillar”.
The caves are beautifully lit up with well laid out pathways and the 1km journey is narrated at certain key sections. It was fascinating to learn the history of the caves and how they were discovered by the Morris brothers in 1912.
Walking past a recreation of an Iron Age farm on our way to the second cave we encountered more dinosaurs, it was like Jurassic Park in the Welsh mountains. The Dinosaur park here is one of the largest in the world.
Chloe and Holly were amazed at the size of the dinosaurs and the signs were helpful phonetically spelling out the dinosaur’s name so the girls could easily read them. They loved having their photo with these Jurassic beasts and choosing their favourite dinosaur.
The Cathedral Cave was beautiful and has been lit perfectly to show off its unique features and was our personal favourite.
The path you follow takes you between two spectacular waterfalls that are 40ft high, which the girls loved running past as they got a little wet.
At the end of the cave it opened into a beautiful cavern called The Dome of St Paul with its impressive vaulted ceiling, offering plenty of great photo opportunities – people can also get married here.
Passing more prehistoric landscapes, with volcanoes, and more of the 220 life-sized dinosaurs on display we set off to the Bone Cave.
It is a very steep walk, up lots of steps to reach this cave but the views across the Brecon Beacons are worth the effort.
As the Bone Cave is so small we had to wear hard hats and follow a covered walkway until we reached the 4ft entrance to the cave. It’s called The Bone Cave, due to the fact that 42 skeletons have been found here dating back to the bronze age.
Once inside the cave there was a lot more room, with lots of exhibits inside, showing how the cave has been used over the years and the dangers the inhabitants faced.
The caves at Dan yr Ogof are breathtakingly beautiful, filled with stalagmites and stalactites (which the girls described as stone icicles like you would find at Anna and Elsa’s (Disney’s Frozen) house)
We learnt that they are both pointy formations found in limestone caves: one points up, the other points down. One way to remember is that stalactite has a “c” in it, as in “ceiling,” and stalagmite has a “g” in it, as in “ground.”
For exploring the caves it is a good idea to bring sensible shoes, a coat or jumper with you as the caves are wet and it can get cold. If you are visiting with infants I would not recommend bringing a pushchair as they are not permitted in the caves due to steep inclines and lots of steps.
After our cave exploration adventures had finished there was a great interactive visitor centre for children where they learnt about different dinosaurs, asteroids and issues facing the earth’s climate today.
You exit the main attraction via the aptly named Rock and Dinosaur Shop. Unlike in many of the gift shops that you find at attractions across the country this had lots of unique products to buy which were lovely keepsakes.
The girls bought a mood ring and magnetic rocks and I liked the fact that lots of the products were unique pocket money toys so not too expensive for families.
After panning for gold we stopped off at the coffee shop to warm up with a hot drink and cake before visiting Mr Morgan’s Victorian Farm. The coffee shop was pretty average and the food options were quite expensive and limited, so I would bring a picnic with us next time.
Many visitors must miss this part of the attraction which was a 5 minute walk down the hill away from the main entrance, but its well worth visiting.
If your children love animals they will have a great time at Mr Morgan’s Victorian Farm. The girls had great fun walking close to the sheep, goats, llamas and alpacas roaming around the grass.
Next to the farm is the Shire Horse Centre, with interactive exhibits for the girls along with lots of beautiful horses to look at.
Along with the animals there are also two indoor play areas, one for under 5’s and another for ages 6 to 10 called Barney Owl’s playground and an outdoor play area.
We had a great time at the National Showcaves Centre for Wales. It took several hours to explore National Showcaves Centre, including lots of questions from our fascinated daughters after their adventures through these impressive caves.
Pricing and Opening Hours
Click here for admission prices, directions and current opening hours
Alternatively you can convert £2.50 of you Tesco Clubcard vouchers into £10 to spend on tickets for the National Showcaves Centre for Wales.
We were provided with a family ticket for the purpose of this review