Wrysgan Slate Mine level 6 adit to level 1 adit

19 September 2013

Posted by
Margot Saher

When we were parked for Cwmorthin we saw a beautiful incline on the opposite hill, which seemed to lead into a hole. We figured it would be worth having a look. Laura had been to the top of the incline, and to the quarry she said was behind it, but she hadn't been underground. Matt and Gary had downloaded information on quite a number of nearby mines, including this one; it seemed to be called Wrysgan, and there was mention of some nice little short round trips one could do. So we went for it!


We climbed the incline, which had an amazing view over the landscape around, and got to the quarry. It was very pretty, with remains of engines and buildings and whatnot, all adorned with scenic wisps of fog. Now we had to find the entrance! After a while we did; a tunnel at a reasonably steep angle, leading into the rock. We were wondering whether we would leave some garments and objects at the entrance; some of us had brought waterproofs, which we didn’t expect to need underground. But would we come back to the same level? After some confusion we brought everything with us. Which would turn out to be fortunate!


Soon we came down to an ENORMOUS stope. This was not a mine like Croesor or Cwmorthin, with separate chambers; here they had quarried away a massive body of rock, at a pretty steep angle. Impressive! And we found ourselves on the top ledge. There seemed to be more levels below, but it was hard to see, even with the brighter lights! But we could go on laterally; there was a robust steel cable bolted into the wall. So we did! This ledge went a fair way. Where it was very wide, we saw a rope was attached to a big rock which carried the message “leave for safety” or something like that. We went past; explore laterally first, and vertically next.


The ledge/adit (it varied along its course) stopped fairly soon after the rope, so that was our cue to go down it. And again we followed that level as far as we could. On one end we found the adit blocked by a collapse. That didn’t stop Nick; he slithered past, and explored beyond. When he came back and reported there was a truly daunting chamber behind, this message had profoundly different effects on the various people present. Daunting; is that a warning or an invitation? Consensus was nowhere to be seen. Matt made the executive decision that it was a warning, and we turned around. A bit further back there was more to see; a passage leading down, with an alluring steel cable in it. It turned out to lead to a ridge above another massive drop that got so narrow not even Nick was keen to cross. There were bolts; good bolts, but we had no rope with us! This was way too dangerous to do without a handline. We tried to make the in situ steel cable stretch across but that just wasn't going to happen. Too bad! But fun to try.


We then went to the other side, and then further down, via a path. We also found a message regarding safety; some levels were declared safe, and others weren't. We could see why; big blocks had been falling out of the ceiling, and there were places where one might expect a bit more of that. But what level were we on? The message didn't say. Hm! We just did what we always do; rely on our own common sense.


We explored another level, came down another path, and thereby reached the bottom. Matt created some confusion by getting there first, and proclaiming he had found a pub. A pub? There? He then claimed he had said “tub”, which was supported by rather convincing evidence in the form of a big tub at his feet, but we still weren’t sure. Maybe he was taunting us with ambiguous pronunciation!


When we were sure we'd seen it all we went out through an adit at that level we had seen on the way. It got us out on the other side of the hill, from which we again had great views. So we enjoyed that for a minute, and then went down. And admired some remains at valley level. A shaft? A slate cutter? Interesting stuff! And the collapsing bridge back to the road provided some last entertainment before we went back to the cars, and had to start getting mentally ready for re-emerging in the “normal” world again. A nice modest yet spectacular enough trip!