We have wanted to look at these mines for many years, but were always put off by the inhospitable terrain. The thought of slogging for hours only to find a few scrapings on the ground didn't seem a sensible pursuit. So what had changed our minds? Well, we had been exploring the mountains around the Lledr Valley and found that it was quite possible to make good progress by sticking to the tops and flanks of the peaks. Coming from the Crimea pass, it's possible to get a good start by using the Tunnel road to the ventilation shaft workings. The trouble is, most of the mines are at the bottom of valleys.
After a lot of map study, we elected to go up from the Hendre Coed slate mine, following the river all the way up. (SH69655 51231) It wasn't too bad initially, as a farm road goes for a few hundred yards. We crossed the river at the old bridge, finding the tracks of the farmer's quad bike also went our way...so far, so good. Incidentally, this bridge and the ruined buildings around it (SH68701 50298) seem to be shrouded in mystery. Geograph states that they belonged to the Moel Fleddiau slate mine...really? Since that mine lies on the bwlch between the Lledr watershed and Allt Fawr, and it is a short step to Blaenau ( a rather precipitous one, admittedly) I have my doubts...surely the mule track over Bwlch-y-Moch would be more reasonable. At any rate, on the OS 1888 map, bridge and buildings are referred to as Cwm Fanhadlog Uchaf and on the modern series, Cwm Fynhadog Uchaf .
|The bridge over the Lledr by Cwm Fynhadog Uchaf, clearly of some antiquity.|
|Moel Siabod glimpsed behind the mystery building at Cwm Fynhadog Uchaf.|
"following the river up the valley is probably the wettest stretch of walking imaginable, a long, long slog of waist-high reeds hiding knee-deep watery marsh…"
That's the one. If someone had been watching as we stumbled and slipped from one bog to the next, or pratfalled countless times, they would have been highly entertained. Gaining height simply changed the predominant vegetation to chin-high ferns, but still with the knee deep bog and with the added delight of sheep ticks. Every now and then, a rock outcrop was encountered, providing a welcome respite from the bog-bumping and falling over.
Petra spotted a small building, not immediately visible on Google Earth, right beside the river. It was a wal, with a modest waste tip alongside. (SH68112 49396) The small excavation went into an outcrop beside the river and must have been a trial. It made a nice photo, but it seems to have escaped the cartographers, as it is not marked on any map or survey, including the OS 1880 from the NLS.
However, we were emboldened now. Despite our pitifully slow progress, I reckoned we would be at the Afon Lledr mine in 35 mins. The next half mile was the longest and most painful of my life, but we made it. Perhaps it would have been easier in the winter, when the vegetation is not so high and the ground frozen...who knows.
|The Afon Lledr spoil heaps.|
|The Lower Adit|
|Remains of the forge|
|The processing area and office at Afon Lledr.|