Friday 6 April 2012

Underground at Rhosydd

A local explorer come bee-keeper, historian and general enthusiast kindly took us into the safe bits of Rhosydd quarry. The scale of the workings is immense. We entered the long adit on level 9 treading carefully to avoid the deeper water draining outwards; a reminder that the five levels below are all flooded. This long adit took eight years to carve out with miners working from both ends ... no laser guided gadgetry, just Victorian engineering skills to pinpoint the seamless join. 

Here and there were what looked like bits of tree root on the floor, rusting strands of the cable that pulled slate wagons in and out on the rails. At the end of the adit, rails branched off in different directions, close to the connection with the five levels below. Slate from below was dragged upwards to level 9 by a water powered incline.

A large slab of slate on the floor, with chain attached ready for lifting onto a wagon, now painted with eight large yellow letters:
R O C K F A L L.

Until a couple of years ago it was popular and easy to walk the mile through adit 9 then up to level 6 and out of the West Twll (west hole) where the slate works had begun. Falling rocks have blocked this route although I’m told you can nip and tuck your way through if you know what you’re doing. No-one can vouch for how safe this might be.

For the extremely intrepid, with caving equipment, back up and a guide, there is the Croesor to Rhosydd crossover – just a mile in length but a good eight hours long if all goes well. I’m told it begins with a 200 foot abseil. Here’s a clip of the zipwire in use.

 Opposite the entrance to adit 9, across the cwm, is probably the most impressive engineering feat of all, an exceedingly steep incline for exporting the slates, at its top steeper than 1 in 1. Nothing was impossible to the Victorians.

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