I fought with my conscience over this mine...whether or not to write about it. It was small, insignificant, perhaps completely uninteresting compared to the nearby thrills of Cwmorthin or Rhosydd. Yet it was a rather uneasy explore, because of the extreme fragility of the adit and the amount of water coming in. I don't want to be responsible for folk putting themselves in peril, but it's a shame not to share the photos and experiences. (Hopefully so that you don't have to!) I'll just let you make your own minds up about how foolish we were .
I blame Harold Morris, the venerable local mine explorer for drawing my attention to it. Harold has explored just about every excavation in the Blaenau Ffestiniog area and is a walking treasure trove of knowledge. He paid me a visit one Sunday and we roamed far and wide in discussions about lost mines, particularly on the Manod, which is practically our back yard. I mentioned a favourite of mine, Chwarel Llew Twrog...Harold countered with the suggestion that there were more open adits than I had realised, and he'd been in them. Afterwards, I mentioned this to Petra who opened Google Earth with unseemly haste. Sure enough, there was what looked to be a level beneath the cliffs known as Clogwyn y Garw, with what looked like a causeway, and a trial digging. The game was on! It couldn't be open, surely? And how had we missed this?
|The fun begins, over yonder boulders...|
|The trial level|
|The real adit, cleverly concealing the depth of water inside...|
Walking further in, the water became shallower, as is the way with most mine adits. They are built to drain the mine, but inevitably get blocked near the mouth with debris, silt, dead sheep and general degradation, as had happened here. I could now see the sleepers on the floor, very fragile and almost rotted away. Deads were stacked up at the sides of the adit very tidily. Elsewhere, large coffin shaped slabs were leant against the walls, something I noticed at Llew Twrog as well. To my inexpert eye, these looked worth saving...I wonder why they were left?
|The sheet of corrugated iron on the floor was covered in mine shells|
I still found time to marvel at the craftsmanship and accuracy of the adit and the lovely, untouched sleepers on the floor. Everything was tidy and workmanlike. We arrived back at the fall and I decided to take a couple more photos, as we certainly wouldn't be back this way again in a hurry. It was then I noticed the roof above where the water was coming in. A few rails held in a mass of rubble and rock, just waiting for an ill-starred moment to collapse and entomb the mine forever. We have been in dodgy adits before, of course, especially in the old Holland's Cesail quarry at Oakeley. But there, the adits were quiet and you could hear when the rock spoke to you (it always says "get out!") but here, all you could sense was the water roaring, eroding your judgement. No warnings. We retreated, a sense of exhilaration gradually replaced by a feeling of foolishness.
|Processing buildings, or an office...outside the adit entrance|
I don't know how they thought they were going to take product to market from here...perhaps they were waiting until things became productive as at Fridd a bit further up the hill, where a road was cut into Carreg y Fran. Whatever they found both here and at Llew twrog must have been moved over the boulder field by mule- and it is bad enough negotiating that on foot.
In conclusion, a very interesting, if rather perilous explore. Afterwards, I realised that not all the water was draining out of the adit. It was being channeled down a fissure in the floor by the fall, through yet more unstable rock...
|The boulder field|