Mine Camp - My Struggle. WRT 2020.

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Mine Camp - My Struggle. WRT 2020.

Post by RIP » Wed Sep 02, 2020 11:49 am

I’ve put this in a separate thread as I’m aware it may be a bit “niche” for some (ok, everyone then..), although the mine theme certainly took us to some very hidden places. Fairly photo-heavy too. Still, put the kettle on, it may be interesting in an odd sort of way. I’ve even included a bit of boring normal scenery as well :wink: .

With 45 old metal mines to visit in three days, BDS and myself would have to pull our fingers out and crack on. So after arriving at Llanidloes, our start point, the first thing we did was what any sensible Boner would do. Have a nice cup of tea and a sit down. Steve’s expression isn’t exhibiting quite the enthusiasm he’d led me to believe is it :smile: .

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A gently undulating (Copyright R Picton, 2019) lane took us up to Hafren forest past the lead and copper mines of Geufron, Nantricket and Hafod Feddgar none of which did much for their investors despite digging a ¼-mile long tunnel. “Old Brown” was the George Best of his day. He arrived in the area with an ample fortune all of which he spent on his great hobby – mining. When destitute in his old age, one of his friends asked him if he felt any regret, “Not a bit of it” was his reply, “if I had it now I would spend it in the same way”.

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The Hafren ford was as chilly as ever, certainly more so than the footbridge downstream which we omitted to notice – where’s the fun in that anyway?

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I was determined to take advantage of a free drink from both the Severn and Wye, so after a quick sip from the ford we headed up through the forest and over into the upper reaches of the Wye for another drink and a viewing of Nantiago mine 1500ft above sea level. The remoteness of these places means many relics are still left, including parts of the 56’ diameter waterwheel and the fearsome shaft down which the stream now plunges.

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Interesting to compare today’s photo with one taken in 1932 shortly after the mine closed. The wheel pit and the remains of the water supply leat is just in front of me, with the shaft behind.

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The next photo is looking down the valley towards Llangurig, admirably showing the bleak location. A mine manager’s report tried to claim otherwise (“we have stowed a good stock of fuel for the winter, with a well-cropped garden and other comforts for the miners”) but I’m not sure I’m fooled. Twelve men worked underground in 1905 with four above ground. The head ore dresser, Mr Philpot, cycled 60 miles from Shrewsbury on his boneshaker every Monday morning for a 9am start, living in barracks during the week. Onslow, the owner, presented each miner with 8oz of tea, a pound of sausages and a small plum pudding every Christmas. The mine closed when the HM Inspector Of Mines saw the shaft rope up close one day :wink: . Said miner Will Richards, “it was a happy mine to work in and a sad day when it closed”. A little picture of life in a super-remote Welsh valley 100 years ago.

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Further down the valley is the processing plant, with the remains of the efficient Pelton wheel turbine still possessing its brass bearings.

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On the map we’d seen some extremely outback tracks over towards Eisteddfa Gurig, but the Sweetlamb rally school was a slight problem with its “Private: rally course” sign on the gate :wink: . Biking a few hundred yards further presented us with another gate without a sign so we carefully opened and closed that, crossed another large ford, and proceeded on our way, eventually coming out on the eastern slopes of Plynlimon. The next gate warned us that we’d be entering roadie territory but we risked it anyway :lol: .

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Well worth it too, with some stupendous views east over Hafren. We were going to drop into Eisteddfa Gurig but realised another mine lay in the next valley, and getting there involved a serious 1km tussock yomp across exposed bog – a Grade 4 I’d guess, maybe even a 5 – at just below the 2000’ contour. A long drink of bog water topped us up before we girded our loins.

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Plynlimon/Pumlumon Mine was one of the remotest and highest mines in Wales and suffered shocking weather conditions at 1900’ ASL but ironically drought often brought the machinery to a stand. Even so 3270 tons of lead ore was obtained. In addition to power shortages there was great difficulty in attracting miners to so desolate a spot where the lack of a public house presented a “grievous fault in the eyes of the miners” :grin: .

The scarily open shaft still exists, but more impressive is the winding wheel and even an extremely rare kibble (shaft ore haulage bucket). Plynlimon summit can be seen in the background.

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We decided the idea of yomping over to Nantymoch was not as appealing as a couple of beers so we headed down to Eisteddfa Gurig. Here we bumped into a young woman who asked if we’d seen a lost Patagonia jacket. Amazingly she shrugged off our initial mis-identified cry of “Helllooooo, Bare [sic] Boner!” and we had a lovely chat and she related that she’d impressively ridden from Port Talbot on a gravel bike with bivvy bag and pretty minimal kit. Unfortunately we were unable to help, and continued to Ponterwyd garage to stock up with supplies. As we were coming out she re-appeared, and explained that in fact she’d already been down here, discovered the lost jacket, ridden back up half way to Llangurig, found the jacket then come back again to then proceed to Mach by the evening. Obviously we recommended This Lovely Place so if you’ve joined – great to meet you and hello again!

We declined the charms of the George Borrow, thereby missing a few other Boners, after the dodgy beer last January, and headed for Devils Bridge instead. We sat on the wall with a few beers and had a long natter with an interesting guy from Kirkby, who denied all knowledge of knowing Mr Climber :smile: . “Seth’s Dad” and Seth rolled up too, claiming they were on a BaM despite kipping in the hotel and wandering around in the van :wink: .

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A short ride brought us to our night spot, which I believe Trep used on the Winter Event although being far less hardcore we stayed somewhat longer and didn’t rely on a picnic bench for shelter :smile: . A chilly night at 3degC but a nice morning with the birds tweeting and dappled sunlight peeping through the gate and trees.

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Next morning we arrived before opening time at the Red Kite Café, but needn’t have rushed since the boss had gone out to buy supplies. We whiled away the time eating toast, and chatting to the waitress who’d lived in Ponterwyd for 40 years and before that lived in Cwmystwyth with her husband who shepherded 4000 sheep for a meagre living. Interesting stories. Then Frogatthefarriers and Minder arrived which was nice, although I think they had to wait considerably longer for their fry-up. We didn’t get away until 11am which was a bit of a cockup, but then it was off over NantYrArian to Cwmsymlog Mine, discovered before Roman times but whose greatest period was in the 1600’s when fabulous wealth was extracted including enormous quantities of lead and silver. Unfortunately much of the site has been “landscaped”, and attempts made to restrict lead pollution leaching into the river, but the impressive chimney still exists plus several nasty looking shafts which drop down 1000’ to below sea level.

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Climbing back out from the mine I just saw the tail end of Viv’s seatpack going the other way and we stopped for a catch-up with her and Burty, who’d gone all the way down to Aber for breakfast then back up into the hills again, which put us to shame.

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Onwards to the hidden valley of the Afon Leri we passed a stupendous view across the whole of West Wales as far as the Preseli Hills and Strumble Head 70 miles away. We decided that it was certainly the “WRT Of Views” this year. The Leri valley is very quiet and remote with no roads and several fords to cross which pleased us immensely, like the big kids we are, and gave access to several more mines including Llanerchclwydau and Llawrcwmbach. Not sure what the exact Ford Count was this year but was certainly into double figures. There was evidence of a leat (a small canal) here which supplied water to many old mines. It was an amazing surveying and engineering achievement, starting near Hyddgen and flowing 19 miles on a gradient to supply over fifty waterwheels at 11 mines on its way. Who were the five Boners we saw toiling their way up the ridge from Bontgoch to NantYrArian round here?

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Time was moving on so we blasted down to Borth to get supplies, then along the beach road to Ynyslas. The terrain here is a dramatic contrast to earlier bits of the ride of course, here’s a view across the Cors Fochno bog.

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An upsettingly abortive attempt to find the underground mine wheel took us round to Mach for a pleasant dinner in the White Lion, bumping into Peter S and Kev awaiting their pizza, followed by a bivvy spot and experience which we will draw a discreet veil over to protect the innocent (me). Nice toilet block though. Bit of a collector's item.

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Sunday saw us taking the minor road to Cemmaes Road and the bridleway to Commins Coch. I’d missed the Fridd Dolgadfan “back route” to Stu’s on a previous WRT and was determined to do it this time. It’s a hell of a climb up to the top but we were rewarded with more insane views over the Dyfi Valley to Cader and beyond.
How you guys on this year’s Winter Event got across the tops to Foel Fadian in that wind I’ve no idea. Steve caught a very scary photo indeed of TWO Regs, which must be a BB "first". One’s far more than enough as it is.

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And so the “WRT 2020 Year Of The Views” adventure ended back at BBT, bumping into Kev and Peter again, and chewing the fat over a brew and some cake. I had a very worrying moment because perched on the table was only ONE piece of cake. Luckily it was DFLDC so I rudely grabbed it quickly before Steve could beat me to it. Stu reckoned there was loads more in the house but I like to think I was honoured with the very last slice of DFLDC-2020 :smile: .

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A record time back through Staylittle to Caersws of 1h20mins dumped me on the station just as the 16.35 was arriving so I leapt on rather than popping in to see my mate near Newtown. Being bank holiday there were all sorts of diversions and changes, at one point I’m sure we were travelling backwards through Nuneaton, far out of our way, but at least I got home the same day. Pete Gummikuh’s RIDE back to the same place is far more impressive.

As many have already acknowledged, we owe a big debt of thanks to Dee and Stu for going ahead this year. I would have been distraught to miss it. Steve summed the weekend up nicely and succinctly – “emotional” :smile: . The two sayings we are taking away with us this time are “it’s all on the level now”, and “gently undulating” both of which were outright lies in the numerous times that we uttered them. Thank you to BDS/HOTT for additional photos, and more importantly for putting up with yet another of my hare-brained ideas.

I never want to see another mine or quarry again.

Until next time.

‘Reg’
Last edited by RIP on Wed Sep 02, 2020 4:56 pm, edited 4 times in total.
"My God, I'm two-thirds of the way to the grave and what have I done?" - RIP

"It is in the petty details, not in the great results, that the interest of existence lies" - JKJ

"At least you got some stories" - James Acaster

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Re: Mine Camp - My Struggle. WRT 2020.

Post by psling » Wed Sep 02, 2020 1:34 pm

Great read that Reg.
You are so right about it being the event for views :-bd ; the weather conditions were just right with brightness but no haze. A good time to have been up in the hills and, for me and Kev, every wrong track we took seemed to lead to even more impressive viewpoints, usually at the top of very long climbs of course :???:

p.s. Mine camp - My struggle. Like what you did there :cool:
We go out into the hills to lose ourselves, not to get lost. You are only lost if you need to be somewhere else and if you really need to be somewhere else then you're probably in the wrong place to begin with.

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Re: Mine Camp - My Struggle. WRT 2020.

Post by RIP » Wed Sep 02, 2020 2:17 pm

Good to bump into you Peter. My brain is still on fire from all those views - they blew us away.

Numbers - dunno. Weight between 34 - 35lbs I think. Over 100 miles and 10000' according to Stevo. 23 mines viewed.

Mine camp - ta, yeah, took me a while that one :wink: .
Last edited by RIP on Wed Sep 02, 2020 4:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"My God, I'm two-thirds of the way to the grave and what have I done?" - RIP

"It is in the petty details, not in the great results, that the interest of existence lies" - JKJ

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Re: Mine Camp - My Struggle. WRT 2020.

Post by Bearbonesnorm » Wed Sep 02, 2020 2:43 pm

:-bd ... that is all.
#corporate shill for hire

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Re: Mine Camp - My Struggle. WRT 2020.

Post by TheBrownDog » Wed Sep 02, 2020 2:58 pm

Lovely read and photos, Reg, thanks.
I'm just stepping outside ...

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Re: Mine Camp - My Struggle. WRT 2020.

Post by RIP » Wed Sep 02, 2020 3:08 pm

Thanks chaps.

Wish I'd taken: less time over breakfast at Red Kite :wink:
Wish I'd remembered: couple of tiny pegs for bug net
Glad I took: down jacket
Wish I'd left behind: two bin liners I was going to wade in inside mine adits. Got boots soaked instead!
"My God, I'm two-thirds of the way to the grave and what have I done?" - RIP

"It is in the petty details, not in the great results, that the interest of existence lies" - JKJ

"At least you got some stories" - James Acaster

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Re: Mine Camp - My Struggle. WRT 2020.

Post by benp1 » Wed Sep 02, 2020 3:11 pm

Lovely job Reg

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Re: Mine Camp - My Struggle. WRT 2020.

Post by johnnystorm » Wed Sep 02, 2020 3:30 pm

Great stuff! I used the Industrial Archaeology Associations "Guide to Industrial Archaeology of Mid-Wales" as a route planner but not as heavily as Reg!

I've just emailed my WRT companion this link and told him he got off lightly! :lol:
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Re: Mine Camp - My Struggle. WRT 2020.

Post by Fat tyre kicker » Wed Sep 02, 2020 3:52 pm

Excellent title and content, just got in off an early shift and that cheered me
Up no end .... :-bd
P.s.....was the waterwheel you didn't find the underground one not far off
The b-road round Nantymoch?

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Re: Mine Camp - My Struggle. WRT 2020.

Post by RIP » Wed Sep 02, 2020 4:21 pm

Fat tyre kicker wrote:
Wed Sep 02, 2020 3:52 pm
Excellent title and content, just got in off an early shift and that cheered me
Up no end .... :-bd
P.s.....was the waterwheel you didn't find the underground one not far off
The b-road round Nantymoch?
Ta. Wheel - Mmm, sort of. Dunno why I'm being reticent, misguided sense of protectivity maybe. Will PM you :wink: . I think I know what went wrong now. I'm sure Stevo would love to go back for another try :lol: .
"My God, I'm two-thirds of the way to the grave and what have I done?" - RIP

"It is in the petty details, not in the great results, that the interest of existence lies" - JKJ

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Re: Mine Camp - My Struggle. WRT 2020.

Post by sean_iow » Wed Sep 02, 2020 4:55 pm

Excellent write up Reg and you lucked out with the weather, not sure that was the forecast :???:
RIP wrote:
Wed Sep 02, 2020 11:49 am
The Hafren ford was as chilly as ever, certainly more so than the footbridge downstream which we omitted to notice – where’s the fun in that anyway?
I waded across that on my first BB200, shortly afterwards someone mentioned the bridge, as I said at the time, there are plenty of bridges where I live but no fords this big, why would I miss out wading across it? :lol:
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Re: Mine Camp - My Struggle. WRT 2020.

Post by psling » Wed Sep 02, 2020 4:57 pm

RIP wrote:
Wed Sep 02, 2020 4:21 pm
I think I know what went wrong now. I'm sure Stevo would love to go back for another try :lol: .
I admit I was wondering a bit when you said the water was ankle deep and yet it was at least knee deep when Kev and I visited... :???:
We go out into the hills to lose ourselves, not to get lost. You are only lost if you need to be somewhere else and if you really need to be somewhere else then you're probably in the wrong place to begin with.

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Re: Mine Camp - My Struggle. WRT 2020.

Post by Fat tyre kicker » Wed Sep 02, 2020 5:24 pm

Pm'd back Reg....fascinating area :-bd


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Re: Mine Camp - My Struggle. WRT 2020.

Post by In Reverse » Wed Sep 02, 2020 11:18 pm

Entertaining and educating. Nicely done Reginald.

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Re: Mine Camp - My Struggle. WRT 2020.

Post by RIP » Wed Sep 02, 2020 11:31 pm

You'd've loved those leats Andy - engineering/surveying marvels of their day.
"My God, I'm two-thirds of the way to the grave and what have I done?" - RIP

"It is in the petty details, not in the great results, that the interest of existence lies" - JKJ

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Re: Mine Camp - My Struggle. WRT 2020.

Post by thenorthwind » Thu Sep 03, 2020 9:04 am

I'm gonna read this properly later when I've recovered from laughing at the title :lol:

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Re: Mine Camp - My Struggle. WRT 2020.

Post by Cheeky Monkey » Thu Sep 03, 2020 10:21 am

[jazz-voice]
Nice :cool:
[/jazz-voice]

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Re: Mine Camp - My Struggle. WRT 2020.

Post by JoseMcTavish » Wed Sep 09, 2020 1:44 pm

Enjoyed that greatly, love a bit of historical detail for the landscape.

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Re: Mine Camp - My Struggle. WRT 2020.

Post by RIP » Wed Sep 09, 2020 2:42 pm

Cheers Jose. For somewhere so remote it's amazing what you can find there.
"My God, I'm two-thirds of the way to the grave and what have I done?" - RIP

"It is in the petty details, not in the great results, that the interest of existence lies" - JKJ

"At least you got some stories" - James Acaster

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Re: Mine Camp - My Struggle. WRT 2020.

Post by Borderer » Wed Sep 09, 2020 7:31 pm

I enjoyed that Reg, thanks. I love a bit of industrial archaeology. You should get yourself up to Leadhills and Wanlockhead - its hooching with the stuff around there.
Great write up and impressive finds.

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Re: Mine Camp - My Struggle. WRT 2020.

Post by RIP » Wed Sep 09, 2020 8:09 pm

Mmm, I remember you mentioned you work, or worked, there? I've been to Wanlockhead once, in my 1980s aimless-wandering days (well I'm still doing that of course :wink: ). My enduring memory is seeing a dilapidated prefab type of building on a flat area overlooking the village and my mate Uncle Tony and I went and had a look. Turned out it was a boozer surrounded by a moonscape. Naturally we investigated further. It was run by Rab Nesbit's brother (stereotype apology required here). Got chatting etc. Nobody else inside or entered while we were there. I finally asked if he got much custom. "Oh aye, you should see this place on Friday nights, it's heaving with coach parties from Glasgow". Still there is it? Still heaving? :smile: .
"My God, I'm two-thirds of the way to the grave and what have I done?" - RIP

"It is in the petty details, not in the great results, that the interest of existence lies" - JKJ

"At least you got some stories" - James Acaster

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Re: Mine Camp - My Struggle. WRT 2020.

Post by Borderer » Wed Sep 09, 2020 8:14 pm

No idea! Not my scene at all! I have finished working there now so don't go any more. Which is a great relief as it was a bloody long drive.

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Re: Mine Camp - My Struggle. WRT 2020.

Post by RIP » Wed Sep 09, 2020 8:29 pm

Well not mine either, but our visit was memorable. Now you've set me off.. unbelievably I've found a photo of it!!! Plus a few others.... stand by... :wink:
Last edited by RIP on Wed Sep 09, 2020 8:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"My God, I'm two-thirds of the way to the grave and what have I done?" - RIP

"It is in the petty details, not in the great results, that the interest of existence lies" - JKJ

"At least you got some stories" - James Acaster

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Re: Mine Camp - My Struggle. WRT 2020.

Post by RIP » Wed Sep 09, 2020 8:38 pm

The pre-fab pub with no custom! 1987, a couple of years after we got the bikes. Can you picture the hordes of Glaswegian happy revellers arriving by the coachload eagerly anticipating their bangin' night out on the tiles?

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Uncle Tony and myself went all over the place with those bikes, specialising in sadly run-down industrial areas. Had plenty of baffled looks. Tony's trusty(?) beaten-up old Astra....

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You'll recognise this one. Doubt much has changed in 33 years :smile:

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The name of this second-hand clothes shop in Moniaive amused me, but then I'm easily amused...

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It was quite a trip, we even conquered Helvellyn by bike. I wonder if we could lay claim to the first velocipedal adventurers on the summit. The clothes... the gear.... X_X :lol: ...

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And why not eh.....

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Some of the best memories of my life were forged around that time, and all for the price of a bike. Still applies.
"My God, I'm two-thirds of the way to the grave and what have I done?" - RIP

"It is in the petty details, not in the great results, that the interest of existence lies" - JKJ

"At least you got some stories" - James Acaster

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