Thursday, 20 September 2012

Simdde Dylluan Copper Mine

Driving through the Nantlle Valley on the B4418 from Rhyd Ddu towards Cilgwyn, the seasoned mine explorer will find much distraction, tempting one's gaze from the road. As the route winds over the bwlch past Y Garn and Llyn y Dywarchen, a line of old leat pillars can be seen at the left hand side. These leats run entrenched from the Llyn all the way down into the Vale to Drws y Coed where tips and run-in adits can be spied all around the mountainside...among the scree slopes of Craig y Bera to the north, while to the south, among the vertiginous outliers of Mynydd Tal y Mignedd. In the valley bottom, an old chimney and some building remains have been taken over by a farm, where a large old dam has been breached. There's an interesting article about this here on the "Scandal on Ben Nevis" blog. The farm occupies the site of the Drws-y-Coed copper mine, it's underground workings largely obliterated.

On westwards from the farm, an area of workings can be made out above, in among the crags. These are the remains of the Talysarn copper mine. There are several adits and shafts- the adits are all blocked, but some stoping breaks out to bank and it might be possible to SRT down to lower levels. It is all very unstable and precarious. Further west and some tips are visible above the road, these are the remains of the Simdde Dylluan mine. Only one adit is explorable, and this is flooded to above the knees for a good way in. It is also quite low, certainly too low for me at a couple of inches over six foot. My back was aching as we explored. I know, big wuss!

The rather unassuming adit portal
"Bridge" and winch headgear over the winze.

The ladder down to a flooded level.

The mine was obviously of some age and passages went off here and there in a labyrinthine manner, including some rather alarming drops down winzes to lower levels. From the photographs on AditNow, these drops are well worth a spot of SRT for those with the necessary experience and gear. There were some nice formations including some blue mineral leaching from the copper as well as the usual iron and pyrites flows.

 As always with a mine of this age, the place is quite fragile, especially at the area of the stope, where as well as a deep winze, stoping continues above, and like the David Blick quote, "soared to the limit of our caplamps." A ladder continued down to water across a dubious bridge, the chasm crossed by ancient timber baulks. Elsewhere progress was impeded by a shuffle beside a shallow pool full of what I mardily imagined might be quicksand. All in all, as with most old mineral mines, a potentially lethal place, although the worst of it is that my back is killing me today!

A choked and flooded winze
Across the valley as we looked out of the portal, we could see the adit for the Benallt copper mine, another fairly deadly, if rather fascinating place.

Petra took a movie of our visit which has some rather nice footage of the "pretties" in the mine, so I've included some stills here.

Further information on the history of the mine can be gleaned here on the Nantlle Valley web site.

Footnote: The valley and mines were home to a remarkable woman in the C18 called Marged ferch Ifan
whose fascinating story is chronicled here.

Some of Petra's video stills of the mineral flows:

Delicate and very fragile straw stalactites
Copper sulphate flow
A little iron flow volcano stalacmite
My very muddy hat, torches and tripod/camera after emerging back into the light!.


Anonymous said...

fascinating stuff Iain and some lovely underground shots. I especially like the purply tones.

Iain Robinson said...

Thanks very much, Graham. This was a little bit more colourful than our usual slate mines!

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure you'd get me down one of those mines with full safety gear and an army of experienced guides, so thanks for showing the pictures so I can see it too...

Iain Robinson said...

Heheh! Thanks, Andy. It becomes a kind of compulsion after a while...must admit that my back is still sore after this one!

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