28DL Full Member
Visited in the excellent company of The Kwan and Lenston
So, I've been busy with life. Which means this is my first report of 2014 and indeed, my first report for over a year! Hope it's worth the wait
Cwmorthin, as part of the larger Oakley mining complex was one of the largest slate mining complexes in Wales. Originally opened in 1810 by the Casson family, the mine was worked off and on for about 180 years, being subject to the boom and bust cycle that characterised the North Wales slate mining it ceased to be a separate entity around the turn of the twentieth century. The last serious, large scale working of the mine was in the 1970's with slates being extracted via Oakley adits and finished in Oakley mills, but smaller scale working by locals from the Cwmorthin side continued until the early 1990's.
5am my alarm went off. **SNOOZE** 5.05 it went off again. **SNOOZE** after this seemed to go on for eternity, at 05.20 I dragged my arse out of bed, kissed my GF goodbye and made my way downstairs. I wouldn't normally be so tired, except we seemed to have the thunder storm from hell sitting above the house for most of the night, and it upset my GF's staffie. So with 1.5 hours of sleep, I go and find crumpets.
Fuelled for the morning I made my way to the met station for the 2+ hour journey to the Wirral to meet the Kwan (this was so much easier when I lived in Birkenhead). Arriving on the Wirral at 8am we then made the 2 hour trip to Blaenau, stopping for STRONG coffee on the way. Walking up to the mine way grim and wet, but walking down was warm and dry so we'll pretend that the pics are in chronological order, eh?
There are no two ways about it, I love this mine, it's so nice to be back after a year away. Not much change except the amount of collapses. Anyway I'm waffling now, so on with the pictnoms.
After the slog up hill we entered the mine on Water Level. Whereas we normally we'd head down the Back Vein incline, we headed round and made our way into the Old Vein workings. Boy are they shonky! So shonky we didn't stop to take photos so the numerous roof falls and delaminating slabs.
The first place we visited that was photogenic was the water falls/machine room. The last time I was here was on my Welsh Trollidays with the J.U.F.F. boys
Have I said the the Old Vein workings are shonky? Well, the Old Vein workings are potentially lethal? Here is a photo from an old trip through so you can see why we didn't stop!
We dropped down four floors and numerous chambers, through the dam then down into the back of the compression chamber on floor DE and the Oakley workings.
We climbed our way down toward the compressor chamber and stopped for lunch. There used to be working lights in this chamber powered by a water wheel
further west on Floor DE. As it transpired, a bicycle dynamo wasn't really up to the job and likely shook itself to bits; no light for luch but that's what head lamps are for, eh?!
After having lunch and chatting to the leader of a Go Below expedition we made our way across the top of the chamber 34 incline and along the other part of Floor DE/French Level heading back into the Cwmorthin Back Vein workings on Floor E. Here the floor starts to get wet as at the bottom of the Back Vein incline was the sump for drainage, now this is unpowered the water extends east and west from the incline gradually becoming deeper the closer you get to the incline. This means that you could potentially get wet, even in wellies, so some kind people built a scaffold walkway.
We stopped to take some photos of the invisible bridges and this is where we bumped into the second party from Go Below. The were "abseiling" (being lowered) into chamber one on Floor E from a where the bridge should have been. Which did allow for some cool photos :)
From here it was time to head up and back out, but not before stopping to take some more pictures. The incline travels 254ft/77m vertically but when you calculate it using Pythagoras' theorem (assuming a 45 degree inclination) it's approximately 360ft/110m. It may not sound like much but with wet and loose slate under foot and being a fat bastard like I am, it's a fucking killer!
This is looking up towards Lefal Cwmorthin
We made our way upto Floor C and headed west to look upon the head of a smaller incline on Floor E that takes you down towards Cwmorthin Floor G. after crossing the missing bridge we climbed the stairs/scrambles up the man way to 1 West chamber on Floor B to show Lenston the epicness of the mega stairs back up to the main adit on Water Level. I neglected to take a photo leaving that to Lenston and possibly the Kwan, but I have to show you guys something, I'm not a tease!
Taken in 2012
Back on Water Level we decided because we're sadistic to head back down the incline to Floor B to take some photos of the abandoned carts there.
This time we did genuinely head back out to the exit and luckily into better weather, so we took photos.
Looking back towards the entrance
Looking over Llyn Cwmorthin and over the road to Croesor.
The miners barracks
And finally the view over Tanygrisiau reservoir
Well, that's it. My first report in 374 days, 17 hours, 17 minutes; I hope it was worth it.
As always, thanks for looking