Thursday, 18 August 2011

Nant-y-Pistyll Gwyn mine

Petra (and a sheep) head back towards Llan Ffestiniog.
A couple of spare hours in the afternoon saw us tramping in the rain across featureless bog and moor in order to find some depressions in the ground. Yes, sometimes this industrial archaeology hobby gets pretty intense.
We'd seen some signs of a tramway on Google earth, across the moor from Croes y Dwy Afon on the Migneint at SH751438.  This part of the moor coruscates with old mining remains; it's as if all the local  people did in the 19th century was dig little trials up here- although it hasn't had any beneficial effect on the drainage.

We left the car at the Llyn Ddu car park at the foot of Carreg y Foel Gron and trudged up the road in the worsening drizzle. Petra was suffering from a sore leg from walking for miles on the Migneint the day before but it didn't seem to slow her down. At least she had the decency not to look back when I almost did one of my famous pratfalls into the bog; it wasn't an edifying sight or sound as I saved myself by planting my arms deep into sphagnum.
Struggling to keep upright in the boggy ground. Some slate slabs over the leat.
The first thing we saw on site  was a level cut in the hillside, possible a leat, terminating in a ruined building. Further along the leat we encountered the waterfall we'd seen on the satellite images. There was an unusual long building, almost like an elaborate waliau next to the waterfall, with evidence of there having been a wheel to power machinery. It was a lovely site, even in the pouring rain. I made a note to come back when the sun was out.
The eponymous Pistyll and waliau
Waliau from the north, with Croes y Dwy Afon quarry and the Penmachno road behind.
The remains of a quarry pit.
 Slightly north of this was what looked like a well made tip run, or perhaps an attempt at a tramway. It ran for possibly half a mile towards a flooded pit, where a farm road inexplicably terminated. The pit looked as if it might have been substantial. There was plenty of builder's rubbish lying about, so I suspect the locals use this as an unofficial dump.
The tramway/tip run.
South of this, there is a “trial level” marked on the map. We walked down towards the Penmachno road and had a look. A nice, flooded shaft had been hewn first horizontally, then vertically down in a rock outcrop. Too dangerous to explore, and too damp anyway. It was surrounded by barbed wire, with a warning about wearing flared trousers and tripping over, stuck to a post. I like these signs, it always lets you know that the game's afoot. A passing motorist censured us with their horn because we were near the shaft, so Petra waved cheerfully at them.  The Nanny state comes to the Migneint.

As far as we can glean from what is out there, this operation was a slate mine, operated from three different semi-adjacent sites- a quarry, a pit and a shaft/adit. It's old, probably mid 1800's and relatively primitive, although Alun John Richard's Slate Gazetteer mentions some “holding down bolts” near the pit for a pump, which might mean that it was operating into the C20th.

So, a pleasant couple of hours, a bit of exercise and a fine view of the nearby Gamallt hills, with an old slate quarry thrown in. And a lot of run-in trials, depressions and mysterious slate tips. Did I mention bog, too? That's the Migneint!

Towards the Gamallt. Farm road made entirely from slate waste from the pit.


Anonymous said...

I love the top photo of the road. Really impressive and atmospheric.

Iain Robinson said...

Thank you, Haydn, glad you liked it.

Anonymous said...

I'll second Haydn's comments - great composition with the open road stretching off into the distance.

And I've a feeling that fella with the nice trousers has been depicted as a negative - I'm sure that's a white suit he has on whilst strutting his funky stuff like that.

Iain Robinson said...

Thanks Graham. Yes, I see what you mean and how that suit could really work for him.

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