Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Penrhyn Gwyn

An explore made in poor weather during March 2016.


Dolgellau is one of my favourite towns...it has the most wonderful vernacular architecture and many of the fine structures would make great subjects for models. I wonder if the look of the town is due to prosperity associated with the many gold mines locally, back in the mid C19?  
Sitting in one of Dolgellau's coffee shops, Petra was idly scanning the OS landranger and muttered that she had found a mine. I spluttered on my cappucino and grabbed the map. Enough of this loitering, I had forgotten that we were explorers!  I seemed to remember reading about the place, that the adit was gated, but it looked like it might be worth an afternoon mooch.  It was a bit of a dreich day, but why not, it was only a couple of miles away to the south, along a minor road.

 As it turned out, the mine is at the foot of a route to Cadair Idris. The path up to the farm is a delight, lined by beautiful trees and Tumblr-esque views ..I say this because a nice couple were coming down the track and taking a selfie to Instagram, or snapchat...whatever it was. At this point, we were incognito, posing as rubbernecks of the Cadair Idris variety, despite being festooned with torches, tripods, hard hats and wellies. They might have seen through our disguise.
Shortly after a ford, where the track to the peak turns right, we slinked off towards the mine and our natural environment. I remember thinking that re-acquainting myself with old Idris' chair would be wonderful, but we had more pressing business today.


It wasn't long before the ruins of the mill came into view. It's a hotch-potch of a structure and looks as if it has been built over several periods, then partly fallen down. There's very little in the way of waste, unless the farmer has taken this away for farm use. The incline ramps up four levels from here and it is quite an impressive feature. It's possible to reach all the quarry from this.

We explored a tramway formation through some lovely woodland, where the line is revetted against a steep river valley. We passed a ruined and very picturesque weigh house before coming to the adit, which had been piped and gated. As I thought, but damned infuriating. Apparently, access is owned by a local authority in the midlands who use it for school trips.  However, the tramway continued on, becoming sketchier by the minute. In places, the formation had fallen away, but belay points had been installed, presumably by said local authority, for the use of students. We came to a lovely dell, where the infant river wound around a spur amid magical sylvan splendour. Petra carried on over/through the stream and then pointed at something out of sight...her delighted expression told me that here was an adit, at least.

It didn't go very far, but it was interesting. A trial, perhaps...and no sign of slate. There were a few nice spiders, although not as many as in the adit at Ty'n y Bryn. I tried to take a photo, but they kept scurrying away. There is a rise at the end of the adit, but at the time I thought it was impassable. Only later did I find out from a friend that it can be squeezed up and leads to the pit. I can't see how this could be a viable entry into the pit for the quarry, as it debouches out into the river and is a bit too low down- perhaps they were waiting for the level of the pit to meet them? Darn, now we will have to go back.


After exploring the adit, and feeling that honour was satisfied to some extent, we explored the rest of the quarry. The next level up has a collapsed adit, the chambers of which may connect underground with the gated opening on the lower level. There was also the remains of a fine forge structure.



Up one more level and there are some large spoil tips and a run of ruinous structures which could be workshops or offices, as there are fireplaces in evidence. Not walliau, anyway. The remains of the main haulage incline are here.

 There's also what appears to be an incline down into the pit, which is choked with large trees and impossible to photograph meaningfully in the fading light. Judging by the remains of a leat, the incline might have been water powered, or there might have been other machinery on site.


 The highest level seems to be the oldest working, nothing much to see except for the fine views to Cadair Idris, feeling close enough to touch at the top level. I would have liked more time to explore the pit, as I had a feeling that an adit or a tunnel would have opened out in there and connected with the underground workings, but it looked like a rope job and as usual we had not come prepared.
Despite not gaining access to the underground workings (yet...) the site is a very interesting one and considering it's age, closing around the late 1880's, there's still a lot to see and muse over. Those who possess the miner's eye of faith will find much to observe and note. Richards notes that the output of the quarry was never very high, despite the large amount of waste. Nearer the farm he mentions a waterwheel pit and office, which somehow we missed! Another trip will hopefully be made to solve these niggling questions...permissions also need to be sought from the access folk as well.  It always seems thus, that we return from a sortie with more questions than answers, but that's how it should be.  And yes, we did take a selfie. Petra looked lovely as always... but I look like an old "fortyniner"- so the photo is out of the question!


5 comments:

adcochrane said...

Always impressed when you can 'read the remains' and work out the mine, its components and how it all works. Excellent photos as always! I do object to featuring this selfie and then not publishing it. Teasing...!

Iain Robinson said...

Thanks very much, Alex. Glad you enjoyed the photos. The selfie...I thought about it, but it's too macabre. Imagine Jed Clampitt meets Poppa Smurf...:-)

geotopoi said...

Wot, no selfie? ;-)

Iain Robinson said...

We don't want to frighten the horses :-)

adcochrane said...

Imagine Jed Clampitt meets Poppa Smurf...that's just teasing now! Especially as I've gone and looked Jed Clampitt up.

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