One of Petra's finds, this ancient slate quarry sits at the head of a cwm above Pantperthog, near Corris. We started our trek from a car park in the forestry, at SH747045. From there a forest road climbs up above the Nant Siambar Wmffre towards the head of the cwm. It's an easy route, although the road becomes rather steep at times. I was astonished to see that the "Google street view" camera van had been up and around the forestry loop here- although signs clearly say that non-forestry vehicles are not allowed. Makes for a nice virtual tour anyway, so thanks, Google!
The forest road was beautiful when we walked it in autumn sunshine and the cwm is another one of those idyllic places that Wales does so well. Towards the headwall of the cwm, the bulk of Tarren-y-Gesail looms mightily. Hard to imagine that a few miles over the hill are the mines of Bryn Eglwys and lovely Llyn Talyllyn. An odd, wild-west type wooden building sits on a knoll by the road at Hafodty (summer dwelling)- on the large scale OS it is marked as a hostel. I thought it had the look of an old mine barracks, but then I would, wouldn't I?
Eventually, the forest road does a sharp dog's leg turn to the right. This is the signal to go left, leave the road and climb up to the mine. At SH7207106043, a stile with a sign leads on to a good track, with small footbridges to cross a couple of streams. I don't really like my tracks sanitised like this, but after a few days of soggy bog-bumping recently, we were both glad of the help. The mine is immediately apparent, the spoil tips showing as brown-grey outcrops.
|The lower pit. The adit can just be seen, lurking in the gloom.|
|The full soggyness of the adit in the pit.|
The workings here are fascinating, with three interesting adits, remains of weigh houses and other structures, and two impressive pits. We explored the lower one first, at SH720850759. It was very boggy indeed, containing a flooded adit which was well up to tummy height. I wallowed around at the opening, becoming stuck in the mud, but managed a photo, above.
|The upper pit tunnel|
|Petra inside the upper pit|
|The marooned adit|
|Lower access adit to the second pit.|
We went looking for the adit seen below in the pit, and found it at SH7209605799. It was an attractive proposition, but very, very muddy, again up to chest height. It looked as if it might have carried on, although Richards describes the adits as collapsed. An old weigh house sits beside the portal, commanding a fine view across the valley to Tarren Cadian, where another old mine supposedly lies. We were going to have a look for it, but ran out of time. Hmmm... I do so miss those long summer days!
|From the weigh house|
|stocks of cut slates|
After we'd demolished our sandwiches, we headed up the hill to the southern and more modern (mid 1800's) part of the site. Here, an impressive pit opens out at the brow of the hill, with a couple of untopped adits leading in. These were probably the very first workings here, since the tips are well encrusted with moss and lichen.
|The southern pit, entrance tunnel just visible.|
Below, a nice line of buildings front a tunnel into the pit. Disappointingly, although light could be seen at the end of the tunnel, it was too deeply flooded- memo to self, rolling up my trousers and wearing wetsocks doesn't cut it. As it was, I still got a soggy backside, to Petra's amusement. However, I wasn't the one who had to be hauled out of the mud later on...
The buildings here are lovely, with another stock of slightly better quality slates lying on the ground. There's the remains of what looks like a slate saw and some kind of trimming apparatus. Cut ends of slabs in the tip show evidence of sawing. There were some impressive slabs here, too, although how the heck they would have transported these down to the valley is beyond imagination.
|A sawn chunk of slab|
|Gloaming view down to the lower adit|
The walk back down the forestry road was magical; the light was fading as the sun sank low, filaments of cirrus clouds reflecting a rose coloured glow. Woodland birds settled down with mysterious calls from the trees and our buzzard kept an eye out for a late snack, high up above. We noticed a couple of old farmsteads, ruined at the side of the track, making me wonder if this had indeed been the original pack horse route. We spotted this mysterious relic at SH7365405415, at a ruin called Ysgubor.
We found the mine site fascinating, but couldn't interpret some of the things Richards mentions in his book, no doubt due to our inexperience and lack of knowledge, although the description he gives is somewhat opaque. I couldn't work out what he described as the old quarry as opposed to the new. But this is why exploring is such fun; there's always something else to find and try to understand. As always, I voiced my oft-repeated cry- we'll be back!
One or two factoids.
The quarry is also known as "Darren" although this is probably a corruption of the original name. It appears in mine records as both.
The wheel in the lower adit could be the "hand cranked saw" that Richards mentions.
The forest here is apparently Wales' first organically managed sustainable forest.
One of the photos in the AditNow database shows the buildings at the mouth of the southern adit still standing. This was taken in 2008, showing how the process of decay continues apace. Link
*Gazeteer of Slate Quarrying in Wales, Alun John Richards, Llygad Gwalch, ISBN 1-84524-074-X
Wilkinson's Gazeteer of mines
Adit Now database
Where's the Path?
|A window at the "new" mill. Modern windmills, seen from a 19th century perspective|
|An apparatus for holding the blacksmith's bellows.|
|That's all for now...|