|The Grotto in Cefn Coch South West Mine|
There's an area on our Google Earth map which has become thick with digital thumbtacks lately. The bit I'm talking about is a couple of square miles of moor near to Ganllwyd, between Trawsfynydd and Dolgellau. That's right- gold country. There are several recorded gold mines within this area and it certainly looked promising from the satellite view. There was just one thing bothering me about the place. It's owned by the National Trust.
I'm glad that people enjoy National Trust sites, and I appreciate that they keep them for us. I just like my mines wild and woolly, preferably without other people around to criticise us for going underground. I'd already made a mental picture of the gift shop and tea room as Petra drove up the narrow road.
|Petra appreciates the workmanship|
Then I heard a high pitched voice behind me, followed by a chorus of excited chatter. A group of 20 or so "silver ramblers" * clambered over the stile and started to look around them, taking in great hearty draughts of air and saying things like "ah, yes, ahem!" and "Come along, Marjory!". I looked balefully towards Petra, but she had already clambered over another stile in a wall. I followed, and there, shadowed in the decency and privacy of a huge glacial erratic, we had our lunch. After a suitable interval and lashings of ginger beer, we emerged from our fortress of solitude, to find the ramblers slowly heading off.
One blessing from our hasty retreat was that we discovered what I thought might be a prehistoric structure. Possibly a long house, or barrow, I pompously postulated. We climbed up it, to find that it was a dam for a reservoir serving the mill's great waterwheel. Then it was a very steep walk, until the first of the Cefn Coch adits came into view. We didn't see the ramblers again that day; from then on all we saw were sheep and RAF jets roaring over.
The adits themselves open up on a lode going steeply uphill, and range from classic types with an entrance like a hobbit hole, to more exciting variations, a bit like a Derbyshire "Rake", where a great gouge is made in the lode, worked downwards and uphill until underground. All were ring-fenced securely, (and one at the bottom of the hill, probably New California, was gated as a bat roost). The two adits that we explored were very fine. I just had a feeling that we were missing something. I'd watched Henllan's video of his and Wezchef's explore of the site and things didn't seem to tally. Never mind, we made it to the topmost hole, where the views were beautiful, across to the Arenigs, and to Snowdon in the distance. Across the valley, the settling ponds of the Glasdir copper mine were evident in some recently felled forest. Looking at the view made me realise just how much of this landscape is indeed covered in conifer forest. And how much we rely on sheep to keep the rest of it clear of the birch scrub that would be the other climax vegetation.
|Top of the World Ma!|
There was a simple path from the bottom of the hill that took in all the adits. It was the one that our friends the ramblers were taking. We could have saved some time, although we wouldn't have found that "neolithic" reservoir...That'll teach us to be anti-social! The site is a really fine one for anyone with an interest in industrial archaeology. It covers the sites of Berthlwyd, New California, Cefn Coch and Cefn Coch South West as well as Cae Gwyn. From the satellite, a tramway can be seen running north, worthy of further exploration on the ground.
In conclusion, a great site and one that the NT actually deserve a great deal of credit for as it is very sensitively managed. It's also NT access code 8, which allows you to wander at will. I guess they don't mean in the adits, but never mind. Watch this space for more photos when we go back!
*(I can get away with saying that because I've gone grey too-prematurely, of course!)
|Yours truly, by Petra|
|Looking inbye, from the Grotto.|
|That glacial erratic.|