|Y Gamallt and the Migneint, from Y Garnedd, above Foel Gron Quarry.|
|Dyke swarms on the Migneint...looking towards Croes y ddwy afon quarry from Foel Gron.|
At this point I noticed a road going up out of the bog half a mile away. The road to Foel Gron quarry. I said nothing, hoping that Petra would see it too. She had suffered a catastrophic full boot and sock soaking in the mud, so I wasn’t sure what her thoughts would be. I needn’t have worried, as, true to form, she announced her intent to blag Foel Gron and to hell with wet boots. What could I say?
|The mystery structure|
Then again, I was once run down by a bus in Manchester, not my favourite memory, and a month later an IRA bomb went off as I walked, sorry, hobbled down the very same street. All a matter of perspective and a helping of diligence, not that either would have helped me or those much less fortunate that day.
Back to the trackway. Our first encounter was a mysterious structure a little like a wheel pit, but without any evidence of water having been supplied to it. My best guess is a magazine, perhaps, or some sort of saw pit...but why not site this at the reduction area of the quarry instead of here? Anybody any ideas? We stumbled about, debating various theories for a while, then headed up the road along the side of Carreg Foel Gron. We were climbing up the side of a large dolerite dyke, one of many that poke beguilingly out of the morass hereabouts. The road turned to the right and we were faced with the first glimpse of the quarry, which looked interesting. There was some old machinery rusting away on the flat area in front of the twll; this had featured on Geograph, so wasn’t a surprise. What did intrigue me was the sheer amount of rock removed from the hill behind the slate quarry, and how the overburden looked so complicated geologically. Fascinating.
|Looks like something from a Wild West ghost town|
|Petra is standing beside the filled in lower adit below the first daylight chamber|
We made our way carefully to the next, lower twll, where an adit and a chamber beckoned. Here the rock was more convincing, with very long shot-blast lines on the working face testifying to some determined extraction. The low adit was similarly impassable here, but the chamber was reasonably easy to scramble into. The rock was dusty and sharp and great slabs of it were everywhere...this must have been a partially metamorphosed stage in the mud beds before the conditions for slate were perfect. The afternoon sun streamed into the chamber, which was a large one, although well filled with waste rock. Further in and several adits could be seen, all with deep, clear, bluish water and one with the remains of a winch sheave and track visible. In the centre of the large chamber was a submerged wagon, looking strangely two-dimensional in the water. A smaller chamber opened from this large one and there seemed to be an opening which led further, but we didn’t have sufficient lumens or rope with us to safely make sure of it. There was also a small, lower chamber which must have been connected. This was accessible by a little scramble down and was a lovely place with the light coming in from the partially blocked opening outside. The water sparkled blue, there were the remains of a winch and a rusted block hung from the ceiling. Perfect!
|Looking down on the twll and Carreg Foel Gron from one of the quarry levels|
The slopes of Manod Mawr with Manod Quarry (or as Welsh Slate erroniously call it, Cwt-y-Bugail) from Y Garnedd