Thanks to the relatively new Lôn Gwyrfai path, running for for 4.5 miles between Rhyd Ddu and Beddgelert, this quarry is very easy to access. Starting at the Rhyd Ddu car park by the WHR Station, the path skirts the lake, the first few hundred yards along the trackbed of an old tramway.
The path is new and raw, and has all the hallmarks of "best practice" with it's railings and stone supports along the way. The young Afon Gwyrfai is crossed in fine style with an oak and stone bridge. Every now and then there are impressive stone buttresses to hold gates...substantial ones, as this is a multi-use route for horse riders as well as cyclists, ordinary footsloggers...and slate mine enthusiasts. There are even carefully made mounting blocks for the horse riders. Well, if you are going to build something, better build it properly.
|The magazine, with the tips of Llyn-y-Gadair in the background. Y Garn and Mynydd Drws y Coed rise up on the Nantlle ridge behind.|
The pit has various massive, well-built structures above it, mostly for the capture and storage of water. Two wheel pits lie here, possibly to power the haulage incline and machinery at the mill, once sited on the flat area to the side of the incline. The mill was demolished- possibly when the quarry to the east came into production. From here, you can see the line of an old tramway which took spoil to tip into the lake. This has in turn been built over by the exit tramway from the eastern operations.
|The Blacksmith's shop for the Gader Wyllt quarry to the east. A pair of substantial gates on the path can be seen to the left.|
|Gader Wyllt incline head and drumhouse.|
A pit lies behind the mill; it was impossible to see if there was an adit due to the vegetation and extremely boggy nature of the ground, although one is mentioned in Jones and Richards*. Below, nearer the lake, the foundations of the newer, unfinished mill stand, a quixotic monument to a failed enterprise. Ownership of both quarries is a tangled skein, even by North Wales standards. The HM Inspectorate doesn't list this quarry until 1913, although according to the maps, it was working in 1888. With the Lyn-y-Gadair quarries in general, various complicated plots emerge, involving among others, the North Wales Unionists Quarries, Cadwallader Humphreys, manager of the defunct Glanrafon quarry and even the famous (infamous?) J H Robinson of Nantlle at one point, until the Gadair Wyllt concern finally ceases in 1928. The interlinked story of the personalities and organisations concerned is a complicated one and too involved to go into here, but it is worth noting that while the Unionists Quarries company didn't come out of things too well, Humphreys bought the Quarry freehold for £2000 in 1924 and a year later sold the land to the Forestry Commission, minus the quarries, for £5000!
|The Gader Wyllt mill and pit, with the primitive walliau beside the track on the left.|
|The trial adit and ruined weigh house.|
The mystery of the development of this site, like the machinations of the various lessees, will never be solved- but I can't think of many sites so easy or pleasant to access. In good weather it makes an easy trip out, with the added bonus of WHR trains passing across the valley. Of course, when we visited there were none, although the Snowdon Mountain Railway train could very clearly be heard chuffing up to the summit!
|The remains of the new mill, unfinished at the time of abandonment.|
* "Cwm Gwyrfai, the Quarries of the North Wales Narrow Gauge and the Welsh Highland Railways", Gwynfor Pierce Jones and Alun John Richards, Gwasg Carreg Gwalch, 0-86381-897-8
Lôn Gwyrfai path link.