Report - - Cwmystwyth Lead Mine - Mid Wales - Oct '19 | Mines and Quarries | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Cwmystwyth Lead Mine - Mid Wales - Oct '19

Mr Sam

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
This place has fascinated me from a young age, my Nine (grandmother)(granny crow) lived in a caravan on the edge of a farm for some years at Cwmystwyth in the mid 90s we would drive past the mine workings and slag heaps and i would beg to go and wander around them but was never allowed, By the late 90's she had moved to a miners cottage a few miles away and still lives there with Frongoch Lead mine in walking distance. Ive stopped and took snaps from the road when visiting but still never had a proper mooch and then a few years back either through adit now or a youtube video i forget which I realised there was still underground workings at Cwmystwyth that are accessible...

Fast forward to spring 2019 while visiting my elders and meeting my mother there whom had arrived a day or so earlier and had walked some of the surface features of Frongoch i persuaded her we should go and walk around Cwmystwyth and i could at least scratch that itch that has been bugging me for 20+ years! (you have to imagine by this point i know there is accessible underground stuff and I've done a few colossal slate mines in north wales)

a well kitted photographer shooting a young lady in full ballerina attire among the remnants of the mill, Up until the mid 80's this still had a corrugated tin roof but the land owner decided to pull it down before it fell on someone.

Not my picture. A shot from 1985 showing the 1899 mill compete with roof.

an outfall from the mine into the river and the mother (jackdaw)

theres a few remaining structures

Signs first in Welsh and then English warn of the area being a SSSI for a lot of people this makes no sense as the mine is just viewed as a scar on the landscape. For people like myself interested in the industrial archeology and with a respect for those that called this work and home during the Industrial age this is brilliant news trying to preserve mine workings for future generations.

Here we see my little Golf surrounded by Compass Adventure Tours. some well kitted land cruisers and nissan patrol that seem to offer adventure tours in this country and into mainland europe.

Oh hang on whats this....

While on a casual walk with the mother we happened upon the adit straight into the workings but with only canvas boat shoes and an iPhone for torch and camera thats where it was time to head for the car pop by the local shoppe for local people to buy a local cider

head back to the miners cottage fire roaring and show the elders my pictures of the day and that there youtube video of the underground stuff..... (this was the evening Notre Damne caught fire)

And that would Be that i had scratched my itch seen a lot of what i wanted to and documented a little bit of Welsh Mining History. (when you look back to that 1985 shot of the mill and wonder what will still be around in another 30 years)

History of the Mines
Cwmystwyth Mines probably constitute the most important mining site in central Wales, and just like many other sites have something of a chequered history making fortunes for some while bankrupting others.

In the coming months @alex17595 and myself did Moel Fferna which was a little more challenging requiring climbing kit and a heck of a walk and when i say walk i mean HIKE UP A MOUNTAIN


On THE HOTTEST DAY OF THE YEAR we tackled the climb to Cae Coch Sulfur mine and then Parc Lead mine, You have to remember mines are cold dark damp places yet they were like an air conditioned supermarket compared to the outdoor ambient temperature of 30C that day!

On both occasions and many late night chats online I would remind him how much i want to see Cwmystwyth (and Dinorwic) just to put into context we had met via work on the railway on track usually nightshifts

Mr Sam

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
My turn to drive i suggest the Great Cwmystwyth lead mine and since its mid wales Ystrad Einion as back up and he adds another for a recce so we have 3 mines to check in middle Wales, my Golf has died and i now have a 1400cc Astra absolutely no guts for Welsh Hills (but the Golf had turbo problems so usually just went into limp mode when it hit a hill) either putting in the Sy23 postcode its a slow slog across the midlands into wales into the hills and we have google maps on the phone and tomtom satnav for when the phone looses signal, we both agree google maps is far more legit so we end up down a single track road for 5 miles thinking its going to link up with the Rhayader Mountain road on which Cwmystwyth sits on......

Literally a Ford is the end of the road for this little Vauxhall, A little frustrated having left the midlands at 05:30 its turnaround 15 min drive to just reached the main road again .... fast forward to where i pull up and I know the adit is literally a 10 minute hike up loose rock and slate (car to adit this is miles better than cwmorthin or rhosydd) BUT the rain is vertical.....

vertical rain aside we are now within the ornate adit looking upon a 12" plastic pipe crawl (this keeps the riff raft out) crouching now within the actual mine workings we are met with water... both in full waterproofs and wellies and feeling quite dry despite the vertical rain outside this flooded tunnel is average we press on.... water is soon wellington boot depth shifting a few stones around as stepping stones into the the flooded section we realises resistance is futile so we just press on flooding our wellies with crystal clear ice cold mine water in the only hope it will level out...

What feels like an eternity we finally hit a higher level I remove my thick waterproof trousers that protected me from the vertical rain yet totally pointless against the thigh high mine water. In this first section we come across a small odd wagon that makes 0 sense ( I will come back to its significance)

pressing on just heading straight for now we hit a collapse thats secured with substantial steel girders that have been added in recent years (looking at old reports and youtube videos) this collapse used to be passable with another smaller pipe crawl but like i say now held up with girders. Upon emerging from this squeeze you are hit with the only wagin we came across

From here on it depends upon your skill set and what kit you are carrying, both of us are experienced underground but on foot with no rope or rope work/climbing skills

and so we reach the focal point of Level Fawr here we see @alex17595 pointing a camera down the near vertical skipway, Note: the hardhat with head torch has been removed for a short time rather than lead over to watch it tumble down the 100ft or so of near vertical rail.

Looking down the skipway shining the LED Lenser P14

looking up the skipway from the same level

having now seen the skipway the odd wagon we came across in the first dry section makes total sense, it is of course the skip

moving up the stopes a little its a dead end

Moving up the levels via a very old ladder there is a little more to see.

initially it seemed a pointless climb to an ore shoot worth seeing but probably not worth climbing a dodgy ladder...

It does lead to a pretty cool tramway bridge straight out of indiana jones but eventually it does just decent back to the original lever so just try find that way up rather than the ladder.

I know theres other levels to be seen here via rope work but I'm glad to have seen a good chunk of it after 25+ years of waiting!
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Down t'pit
28DL Full Member
Is this a report or your life story?

The story of me taking my hart hat off is because my old one ended up down the bottom of the old vein incline at Cwmorthin.

Your photos came out better than mine


Weirdy Beardy
28DL Full Member
Think you hit a lower level than us. We only managed the one in the last few photos. Very unplanned our explore of this one. Plus we got caught off guard by Storm Callum that had hit.

Do think you need to plan your reports better and keep to the main points rather than get excited and tap out your whole experience. I found it a hard and confusing read. Not having a go, just a bit of constructive criticism. :)


Down t'pit
28DL Full Member
Think you hit a lower level than us. We only managed the one in the last few photos. Very unplanned our explore of this one. Plus we got caught off guard by Storm Callum that had hit.
It was hammering it down when we visited but by the time we came out it was dry enough to have a wander around the surface.

They are all of the same level apart from 2 or 3 where we went up the ladder and came straight back down by the chute. We did have a good look around for other levels however we found nothing significant.

Calamity Jane

i see beauty in the unloved, places & things
Regular User
Cracking report, lovely thought out write up, and cracking shots, especially Great Cwmystwyth .
Really liked this. Bless your mum, what a legend! But then again Ive a daughter your age, and I do this, she thinks me mad lol, perhaps I am ;) .

I found the read slightly confusing at times, as to where was where, but I simply re read it, so all in all, I loved it. Those shots are A1. Lighting cracking.

Im glad you scratched that itch, I know that feeling, and have scratched a few this year, so satisfying. :thumb


Weirdy Beardy
28DL Full Member
You missed quite a bit then. Might be worth getting hold of the survey...
Yeah something in hindsight I wish we had done. Was the first thing we did when we arrived in Sheep country, hadnt been fully researched in advance plus because of the storm our way in was starting to flood out.