Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Pole position- a look at the earliest quarry on Manod Mawr

Probably the oldest slate quarry on the mighty, but much-exploited Manod Mawr, South Pole  is an intriguingly named quarry.  Local legend has it that the quarry was named because working there was so cold in the winter months that it " froze the snot in your nose". I can believe that, having explored the site in all weathers- even in summer, the wind comes up the cwm like the Polar Express. It's thought to have been first worked in the very early years of the 19th century, when it could well have been without the permission of the landowner, Lord Newborough. Later, having gone "legit", it became a satellite of the famous Bwlch Slaters operation, but never produced enough slate to figure as more than a blip on the records.

The winter view, with the barracks on the shoulder below.
It does cut a fine shape on the shoulder of the mountain and up close, it is even more charming. There is an almost collapsed adit into the pit and an incline and tramway leading up through the remains of Bwlch Slaters. This processing area is now part of the Welsh Slate "Cwt-y-Bugail"* operation, working the pit inside the mountain. Whilst the big pit is an exciting operation and provides much-needed jobs for local folk, they have recently been busy obliterating the adits and chambers of the old Bwlch North Pole working, so this old quarry and it's incline are more important than ever.

Because Manod is a working quarry, it is best to approach South Pole from the public footpath on the Graig Ddu side, from near the Hughes transport depot in Manod. It's a steep climb, but it does at least let you appreciate the superb inclines and views. The vista from the saddle of Manod is also a sight well worth working for. And those old miners- did they stop and stand occasionally to savour the view from the pit? Let's hope they had their scarves over their noses.


*Apologies for going on about this again, dear patient readers of this blog. Why Welsh slate re-named Manod after my favourite quarry not two miles down the road escapes me.

Heading up through the Manod workings to South Pole on the horizon.

Looking down the incline from the adit, down  to Bwlch Slaters/Manod and across to the real Cwt-y-Bugail in the far distance.


Mark A said...

The first and third B&W shots are outstanding. What makes them for me is the quality of light on the foreground rock and the great sense of depth in the view. So evocative of this area of Wales where, rain or not, the light frequently catches the rock as if it is wet.

Iain Robinson said...

Thank you very much Mark. I'm glad you liked the photos. You are right, the rock has a sheen which is present, as you say, no matter what the weather.

The top view actually takes in several other mines...Alaw Manod, just visible as a hole almost dead centre, to the right middle distance there's Drum Quarry and further towards the Llyniau Gamallt there is the Gamallt copper mines. The rock changes subtly across the cwm, but the slate is always there!

Anonymous said...

Yes, lovely rock textures in the monochrome shots, especially #1 and #4.

Iain Robinson said...

Thanks, Graham!

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