Monday, 9 April 2012

Secrets of the Llanfrothen woods

Digger and Trees

We’ve had a few exploratory walks around Llanfrothen lately, looking at mining remains. The very narrow single track road here bristles with clues, albeit mostly very subtle ones, to the busy industrial past of this area. All of the mine adits and shafts are on private land, and some are extremely dangerous. Relations with the landowner hereabouts rely on goodwill and we didn’t want to spoil that, so contented ourselves for the moment with a reconnoitre.

Adit 2 Evening Sunlight blazes in the trees behind one of the lower Pant-y-Wrach adits.

The first remains that we found in the thick woodland were of the Pant-y-Wrach mine, a fairly extensive working which opens out nearer up towards the ridge into some stoped workings. Shafts abound in the dense undergrowth and it is fatally easy to fall down one, as an unfortunate Penrhyndeudraeth man did several years ago. What a sad story…his body was later found by a mine-explorer, after some considerable time had gone by.  Not a place to explore without someone who knows the lie of the land.

Pant yr wrach office The old Pant-y-Wrach mine office, in re-use as an agricultural building.
SAM_3298 Another adit, covered with thick polythene sheeting.

Further along, we reached the drainage level of the Bwlch-y-Plwm mine and the relatively modern processing works, lying almost hidden in thick tree growth.  This mine was started certainly in Roman times, indeed possibly earlier and extensive workings open out at the top of the hill. This is on private land, although there are rights of way that run through from the National Trust owned land at the brow of the hill. It’s possible to walk through and eyeball the various opencuts and workings from the footpath.

 The Drainage Level, Bwlch-y-Plwm

We know this part extremely well, but even so, discovered a very fragile adit , new to us, that certainly dated from before the C19th, The walls were crowbarred from the rock, still  bearing the marks of the miners iron.
The lower adits here are dangerous, certainly not to be entered without proper equipment (including SRT gear) and the requisite know-how… while the upper ones contain shafts to swallow the unwary down to the black abyss below. There are some excellent videos of the mine on the 'net made by very experienced mine explorers, such as Ian Adams, whose video I have linked at the end of the post- or you could wait a little while until I get round to putting our photos up!
We took a lower way back off the ridge and passed several waterwheel pits and a large ore holding pit, impossible to photograph in any meaningful way. I thought about all the mines that criss cross in this hill and what a busy place it must have been. While I would like to travel back in time and solve some of the archaeological mysteries on the ground, I think I would have to take my 1000 lumens lamp…

A Hobbit Hole
Waterwheel Pit
Mine Works 1
Ian Adams’ video inside the mine here


Anonymous said...

Very nice light and perspective in the top shot, Iain. And the final one looks very intriguing.

Iain Robinson said...

Thanks, Graham. That last shot is of the processing works...The light wasn't good while we were there and that is the best shot....will be trying to get some better ones soon.

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