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Trip to Ystrad Einion Mine -- 30th Nov 2008

Group: Dennis, Ian, Paul, Graham, Mary, Dave

This mine had been on the 'todo' list for a while and proved to be a popular choice. The weather was frosty and so we had an early start in case of traffic problems due to fog. In fact the roads where pretty quiet and we enjoyed some scenic views of frost covered trees as we headed towards Bala. The road up to the mine (Artist's Valley) was rather icy at the bottom but we made it up to the car park OK having ascertained the location from a couple of locals in a truck.

We changed and headed up the track to the ruins. There is not much left, a couple of buddle circles and the remains of the crusher house with a waterwheel pit. There has been some poor attempts at restoration of the buildings and the usual gating of holes. A new set of steps leads up the hill towards the engine shaft which has been rendered safe by a huge ugly mass of steelwork. You can (if you climb over the low fence) stand directly over the shaft and there is plenty of anchorage for an abseil rope and someone has hacksawed a opening so you can gain access should you desire.

We headed off along a poor path in the forest looking for the adit and found the old magazine building in the midst of a load of brambles. A bit further on was an adit, which was gated but open. The water level was quite low and the passage looked inviting so we headed in. After a short distance there was a turn to the right and a bit further on progress was halted by a large hole in the floor. This appears to be an old stope and there is plenty of rotten timber above and below. It would be possible to get down with a handline, but the general state of timberwork and the rubble slopes didn't inspire confidence. It was clear this was not the adit containing the waterwheel and so we wandered back into the daylight and carried on.

Descending the open hillside revealed another adit which was a bit wetter (over welly boot depth for some!) and gated (open) like the other. We headed into the passage, which was walking height and noticed that the water depth decreased as we moved further from the entrance. Ahead was a chamber containing the waterwheel and various other artifacts. There were several passages off to the left of the wheel and a passage to the right of the wheel. Walking along the latter we encountered a flooded hole in the floor containing the rising main from the pumps at lower levels. The passage ended after a few hundred feet.

Back at the waterwheel the passages to the left all stop after a few feet apart from one which heads south towards the engine shaft. There is a flooded hole in the floor which had to negotiated using the in-situ planks and after a few more yards the bottom of the engine shaft is reached and you can look up to daylight. There is a bit of tatty climbing rope and some rotten timber with rusty nails which you can use to gain access to a level about 10-15' up the shaft.

This contains a fine kibble and some more passages. None of the passages lead anywhere, some contains tracks and the walls have copper staining or snottite formations. At the end is usually bare rock where the miners stopped digging. One passage does go on for a while through knee deep water before it ends in a collapse. NOTE: There is a report on the web that the water conceals a partially boarded over winze - we didn't notice it but then we weren't looking for it :-) Some caution may be advisable!

We headed back down to the base of the engine shaft and found a toad (but not the family of frogs reputed to live here).

After recrossing the planks we headed out into the cold air and got changed in fairly icy conditions...

Total trip time about 3 hours