Monday, 17 December 2012

Chwarel Ddu

A very early quarry in the shadow of Dolwyddelan castle. The day we chose to visit, the weather was in a rather gothic phase, which suited the place very well. The castle, of course, is a fascinating old site but I have to add that exploration of the quarry is strongly discouraged by CADW, who have installed a sort of catch-all warning sign near the castle. It seemed as if this was a one-size fits all kind of notice, an impression further strengthened by the fact that the figures seem to be wearing onesies rather than the much more stylish flares of the mine warning signs that we are used to. It didn't say anything about the castle having contained nuts, which I think was an oversight.

The quarry itself has almost been landscaped into oblivion, but enough remains to get a flavour. It was a very early operation in Gwydir, probably from 1802 onwards and so can be considered the mother quarry for the Dolwyddelan area. From as early as 1810 the quarry had an internal railway, using rails of wood, sheathed with iron. Originally, the quarry produced black slates for local consumption, later for Gwydir Castle, then upon the construction of the new road in 1810, slate was exported further afield. Latterly, the black slate vein dwindled and the quarry was worked for rustic slate, closing in 1928. By that time, there were three main floors, a long trial level and a sinc drained by a pumping engine, steam at first, latterly internal combustion.

It's a brooding, atmospheric place out of season- and the ambience is certainly helped by the ever present stony sentinel on the crags above.

Petra stands where the trial level meets with the pit.


Anonymous said...

That generic warning sign is quite something ;-)

Iain Robinson said...

Thanks, Graham- yes, I think they must have got what my Dad used to call a "job lot"!

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