Friday, 11 November 2011

Unfinished Business at Clogwyn-y-Fuwch

Petra looking down to level four from the chamber on level five
The high chambers of Clogwyn-y-Fuwch reward only the most determined explorer, who has to clamber up a long, crumbly, vertiginous incline with few handholds before the mine gives up it's choicest delights. In some ways, coming back down is even more daunting, but by then the intrepid adventurer will have the memory of those wonderful daylit caverns to make up for aching knees and wet feet and legs.

A scene like something from "the Lord of the Rings", looking down on walliau from level 5
 The last time we were here, our lights had given out while we were exploring the level 3 adit, which is a curving tunnel into a large chamber; the only truly dark chamber in the mine. Even here, watery light emanates dimly from a slot in the roof, a tipping chute from a place deep in level 4.

Petra stands by the shaft cut in the floor of the chamber on level 4 down to level 3
 Now, with powerful lights and proper gear, we felt a lot more confident. We were struggling quietly up the incline from the mill, when I looked up and saw something that amused me. Some determined jokers had installed pumpkin heads on the corners of the walliau on level 3. I chuckled, but then had a worrying thought that there would probably be the usual knee-deep mess of vodka bottles, tea lights and crisp packets to deal with wherever people have camped in mines. Never mind, they must have been hard-core revellers at the very least to get up there, and I had spare bags in the rucksac for their boozy litter. I shouldn't have worried. When we got there, all there was to show for the visit by the pumpkin golems were fire embers and several Twix wrappers. Obviously teetotal haloweeners with a sweet tooth and a sense of humour.

Yo! Pumpkin dude enjoys the view...
 Once we'd spent several hours exploring all the mine had to offer, I suggested trying to get to the top level, where, according to the satellite photos, there was possibly another unseen adit. This was one heck of a climb, up an overgrown waste tip that seemed to rise very steeply and forever. When we did find the hole it was only an opencut, but never mind- we've well and truly explored the place now. I descended the heather by the novel method of sledging down on my ample backside, echoing the first miners who brought slate down the same way...on a sledge, that is, not by the seat of their pants...Petra has asked me to point out that she descended in a most ladylike manner and that no heather was harmed by her actions.

Remains of a staging found in level 3

The ramains of a ladder in one of the passages on level 3

Inside the "Mat Spedding" cut and cover tunnel under the tip at level 1 of the mine.
Some nice decorations in the back of the last chamber on level 4

A tunnel from one part of level 5 to the internal incline down to 4


Matt Ots said...

Wow, that really does look like its straight out of Lord of the Rings!

Iain Robinson said...

Thanks, Matt. It's a wonderful place.

weston said...

ohohohohohoh you got it! a picture that actually gives you some idea of the size of these things, brilliant! and some really good shots I study them carefully for ideas top marks to both

Iain Robinson said...

Thank you, Wez! It is so difficult and frustrating to try and convey the size of these places, isn't it. With C-y-F, the chamber openings to bank are massive, so even though the chambers go back a long, long way into the hill, a kind of watery light permeates, helping with the shots. And snap- we keep a close eye on your videos and photos for ideas too!

Anonymous said...

Some very atmospheric shots, Iain! Gorgeous light on #1 and including Petra in #3 nicely conveys a sense of the sheer scale.

Pumpkins, eh? Funny the things you find.

Iain Robinson said...

Thanks very much, Graham. The pumpkins were a strange touch- it must've been quite a struggle getting them up there!

Mark A said...

A great sense of scale in the first three shots, especially the sweep of the chamber roof in the third image. Some lovely atmospheric lighting too.

Oh, and trying to reacquaint myself with your earlier post on this subject via your text link did not seem to work... The link just redirected to the top of this post.

Iain Robinson said...

Thanks very much, Mark. Glad you liked the photos!
I've sorted that link, it works now- sorry about that.

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