A return to the lovely surrounds of Cwm Pennant this time. An easy walk (mainly on a right of way) to an interesting quarry and some great views over to Moel Hebog. What was special about the place, for me, was the sheer variety of mature trees in the woods. I don't know how long some of the lovely old ash trees can hang on for- hopefully for a couple more years, but there were many very old Birches, Oaks and Holly trees to wonder at. Add a fascinating and very old slate quarry to the mix and you have a great location.
We started at GR SH5298446339 at the old Plas y Pennant farmhouse, and parked in a little farmyard. At the moment, the farm is abandoned, although the steading itself is used by another farm. We couldn't find anyone to ask about parking, but thankfully there was no irate note on the windscreen when we returned! A public footpath runs from here, although the sign has been removed. Understandably, as the path runs through the garden of the house and felt very uncomfortable, even though the house is empty. It was too close. The site seems to have been split into four holiday cottages, but would make a nice set of homes for people to actually live in. Perhaps it will be sold this year (2018/19). The footpath can easily be traced on the OS current edition "explorer" map.
On our first visit, Petra and I skirted the farm by going along the farmer's road which was originally the quarry access track, although not a right of way. (SH5299946220) When my daughter Sam accompanied me in the summer, we went through the farm - she's more intrepid than me and egged me on!
We walked up through the woods and found an open adit, badly choked with brambles. But as we stood there feeling the chill air emanating from the portal, a large bird emerged. It seemed almost like a CGI animated creature- and flew closely past my head- an owl! It felt magical, more than scary, in that lovely place.
We eventually arrived at the pit, which is a deep one, but completely choked by trees, who have taken the opportunity to grow in a sheltered and protected spot. Their trunks contorted around the space, like a sinuous dance, stopped in time. I expect that the adit we had seen earlier connected with this pit and was for removing waste.
Walking uphill from the pit, I realised that we were on a plateau, and if we continued in a south westerly direction, we would come to the remote ruin of Llwyn y Betws. I badly wanted to show this to Sam, but the tussock grass (aka "Johnny Breakaleg") and a very tall barbed wire fence delineating the public access land beat us back. If I'd thought about it, a right of way goes on to the moor further north; I was just being lazy...and it was incredibly hot...that was my excuse!
There isn't much history available about the place; it is assumed to have been opened in the mid C19th and certainly the produce was carted to the road using the track that Petra and I walked. The shed near the pit is identified by Richards* as a dressing shed, although there are remains of structures on tips to the south that may also be walliau. The fact that there is no sign of mechanisation suggests that it was not very successful -or that it was an early operation for local requirements only.
To sum up- well worth a look on a fine day as the views are great and the woods magical- I just hope that the footpath access is retained when the houses are sold.
reference: * Gazeteer of Slate Quarrying in Wales, by Alun John Richards, Gwasg Garreg Gwalch.
If you enjoy my content, please consider supporting what I do. Buy me a coffee! Thank you :-)