11 February 2012

Cwmorthin is one of the many huge disused slate quarries and mines around Blaenau Ffestiniog in Snowdonia, a mile walk up into the Moelwyn Mountains from the town and station.

Most of the workings are underground, in the many miles of mine tunnels that climb and descend inside the mountain, some of them still open to cavers, others now damaged by the attempts to use explosives to aid the extraction of slate in the quarry's final working years in the 1990s.

But there's still lots to see above ground, around the portals beside the lake, Llyn Cwmorthin.

In addition to the huge spoil heaps, which send tentacles reaching out into the lake, the quarrymaster's house is intact, but boarded up and getting scruffy. But the quarrymen's barracks, whose residents had a life expectancy of 44 years, have been in ruins for several decades.

These photos were all taken early one May morning. There's a lot more industrial archaeology in the Cwmorthin valley that I didn't get to see that time — I must go back.

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