Monday, 30 December 2013

Moelfre Quarry, Cwm Pennant

Across the valley from Isallt, and a mile or so north from Hendre Ddu, lies Moelfre Slate quarry. It is hidden in woodland above the road and reached by an unmarked public footpath from Pont Gyfyng. The way goes to the left hand side of a farmhouse that was probably the manager's house of the quarry, with the lower mill to the left. This is in "re-use" today, although the water wheel pit and mill building are still evident as such, as are the fine launder pillars. The tallest of these is in use, ironically, as a support for a washing line!

The mill area and waterwheel pit today.
A trackway climbs to the first level of the quarry, up to a drum house- the incline itself obliterated by later disturbance of the ground. Broken water main pipes run between the pillars of the Drum House, once taking water to one of two turbines that used to power the machinery in the mill. Here, the owners appear to have built a hafod from what could have been a mill building or a row of dressing sheds.

Above this, things become interesting. A run-in adit leads into the bank, while an opencut drives into the hill, next to it a cei mulod or loading bank. In the woods above, we found a shaft, down on the line of the adit. We later found another, flooded adit  further to the north- perhaps these were trials to test the viability of the slate. The quarry itself is on the site of earlier metalliferous trials, so these workings may have been in connection with this. As the trackway climbs steeply upwards, a small pit opens out, where slate has been taken, then the working abandoned.

At the highest level and above the workings is a very fine round powder house. We had lunch in this, listening to the bayings of a pack of hunting dogs, quartering the hill above. Soon, we were surrounded by them, but they seemed to have little interest in us.

The Powder House
There are two pits up on the top level, a wet pit and a dry one. The dry pit has the remains of a water driven up haulage incline, chain worked, pre-dating the later access tunnel. An interesting feature of the pit is a marooned gallery which is probably part of a metal mine that the workings have broken into.

The dry pit, showing the marooned gallery in the pit face.
A view of the lower mill area, showing a curiously shaped curved launder pillar.
The present owners are harnessing the plentiful water from the top pit to drive a turbine; a plastic pipe goes from this down to the mill area - a nice continuity. As far as I can gather, the quarry dates from the 1860's and closed in the 1880's, re-opening in a sporadic fashion until the 1930's. Needless to say, the views from the quarry across the valley and up towards the end of the cwm are magnificent.

Looking across to Isallt Quarry.

The turn-off to Pont Gyfyng and the quarry.


Anonymous said...

#3 (DSC_0609) is very fine. I do like the composition with the sweep of the intricate overhanging branches framing the curving lead-in of the tracks.

Happy 2014!

Iain Robinson said...

Thank you, Graham. It was a lovely place with some beautiful trees.
Happy 2014 to you, too, with lots more great photos!

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