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Report - Cwmorthin slate mine - N/Wales - july 2010

Discussion in 'Mines and Quarries' started by Reddood, Aug 1, 2010.

  1. Reddood

    Reddood 28DL Full Member
    28DL Full Member

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    Cwmorthin is a substantial sized disused underground Slate Quarry, situated in the hills above Blaenau Ffestiniog, North Wales. It is said that this was the largest slate mine in the UK, The mines history starts in the early years of the nineteenth century, with over 500 men employed at its peak extracting slate from deep below the ground. Production slowed in the first half of the twentieth century due to the decline of the slate industry, with small-scale extraction continuing into the 1980's.

    Firstly, this mine is well locked up, so access was with permision! The visit was organised by some of the members on M/E.

    with this been a organised visit, I expected it to be more like a tour than an explore, It wasn't, it was a cracking day, and in the 7 hours we spent down there, we only saw a fraction of what the place has to offer. If you havent been here, there is no way i could give you an idea of the scale of this place.

    We met up at the lakeside cafe at about 9am for a quick feed before the long day ahead, There was 24 of us in total going in, the names i knew off the urbex sites were Boboil, Morrisey, Eddu1, Carabiner, Copy Cat and EWJ, (if i've missed your name, sorry) The trip had been billed as suitable for mine n00bs, but i had been tipped off bring SRT gear as the mine had ropes rigged.

    after donning my harnes and grabbing my camera, we set off up the VERY steep incline to the gate, let me tell you, the incline is hard work as you head off up hill into the clouds, but the scenery on the way up is awesome, well what you can see of it through the clouds anyway, theres a bit of a lake and lots of old slate built buildings

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    once up, there was a bit of a wait at the gates for the slower people, once they had got there, the gate was opened and in we went, you are greeted with a passage way which is all shapes, then you come into the first cavern, this whole area whs mined quite badly, this was due to the fact that when they first mined here, the company at the time only had a short lease on the mine, so they basicly rushed, this is obvious by just looking at it

    we all gartherd here in the first cavern, we then split into 2 groupes and set of on our way! there is LOTS to see in there, and i can asure you, it is not what i woud class as n00b suitable, there was quite a few dodgey looking ladders to climb, lots of areas of claps to squeze through and some quite sporting areas of navagate

    we made our way through untill we got to the bridge of death of death, AKA BODOD, yes it's that bad it has the word death in it twice

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    The bridge is too bad to cross, it's rotten and there is a large section in the middle that is missing. in the past, the wall to the right of the bridge had had a rope rigged along it so you could cross as a traverse, to take this route you still had to walk on the bridge, the rope has now been removed due to the damage that was been caused to whats left of the bridge by people crossing.

    The long route to the left of it has now been rigged, but it looks hard work, anyone wanting to do the abseil would at this point now need to do the traverse, while everyone else would have to take a different route!

    after having a quick chat to a couple of people about the ab down, i decided it was a bit beyond my ability, so i dicided to give it a mis, it was an 80ft ab down, then a free hanging re-belay onto another rope and a further 120ft onto what i was told was a rarther dodgey ledge, then accross the ledge onto a 3rd rope for the last 150ft

    the free hanging rebelay in the dark, while hanging on a dynamic line really didn't feel welcoming, so it was a big fat "not a chance" from me, it's a long way down if you get it wrong! out of the 24 of us there, only 6 or 7 went accross, we watched a couple of people do the traverse to the other side, one of them slipping and crashing against the wall quite badly! resulting in a few cuts and bruises, luckyly someone had a first aid kit and managed to patch him up on the other side.

    the rest of us then headed in the other direction..

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    We actully all managed to make it to the bottom before the people comming down on the ropes, this made it sound even harder than i had been thinking it would be and made me even gladder i didn't try it

    once we were at the bottom and everyone was down safely, we headed out, there was 2 routes out, the wet route and the dry route, i opted for the dry route as i was wearing wellies, and i hate it when the water comes over them and fills them up.

    all out safe and sound, we headed back to the cars

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    and that was 7 hours later!

    that was all of my pictures, but heres a few more off other people who i dont think are on here!

    from boboil..

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    #1 Reddood, Aug 1, 2010
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2010

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