Cwmorthin Slate Mine Walk

May 3rd, 2018

This is an old walk (and one we’ve featured before), but it’s one that we absolutely love, and one we think should be appreciated at all times of year.

This amble from Tanygrisiau up to Cwmorthin and the abandoned slate mines of Rhosydd Quarry is a stunner. The scenery is nothing short of beautiful and the abandoned quarry ruins and houses are hauntingly striking. It also has links to the slate mining history that is so ingrained in the history of the Oakeley….. From a distance, the mountains here are breathtaking in their quiet beauty, but dig a little deeper and there is a treasure trove of secrets to unlock; a glimpse of a noisy and destructive industrial era long left behind and an eerie peek into the hard life of a quarry miner in the mid nineteenth century.

by Paul Glover on wikicommons

The Walk

Distance:          4 miles

Difficulty:          Moderate

Start:                Car park at the bottom of the slate tips (Leave the A496 when signposted for Ffestiniog Power Station. Turn immediately left through large slate gateposts and follow road around past the Lakeside Café. Follow bend to right and drive over railway crossing. Go over the bridge and then left at T-junction. Car park is on left)

Grid Ref: SH 676 459 GB

Maps:               OS Explorer 18 Harlech, Porthmadog & Y Bala


1: Head uphill from car park, and through a steel gate. Follow the track steeply uphill alongside waterfalls. At a flat area, turn left through gate-posts into garden. Follow the path round garden to right through trees, and leave through a large green gate

2: Follow path by side of pool, and on to Llyn Cwmorthin and detour to ruins of Cwmorthin Mine on right. Go back to lakeside path and follow along left side of lake, past ruined chapel. Continue on past ruin of Plas Cwmorthin (surrounded by trees) on right and more ruins on left. Follow track steeply uphill and pass large wheel pit on right.

3: Keep climbing until you reach flat area and the ruins of Rhosydd Quarry. Walk towards the two rows of ruined barracks and turn left. Climb steep incline to remains of drum house. Follow path up a little further to a flat area. Cnicht is on right and Moelwyn Mawr is ahead. Return the same way.

Cwmorthin Terrace on the left at the base of the lake housed workers and their families. Before they went to ruin, there were 13 little houses here, the original ones dating back to the early 1800’s.

The ruined chapel is called Capel Rhosydd, and was the only place of worship for miners and their families. It was also used as a school house. Just as the track starts to ascend, there is the ruin of Plas Cwmorthin to the right. This would have been the manager’s house and was built in the 1860’s. The manager lived in luxury compared to his workers, and had four rooms on every floor.

A little further down are some more abandoned ruins, and the Rhosydd Terrace, which provided accommodation for the Rhosydd workers who had families with them.

At the top of the valley, the main ruins of Rhosydd stand – bleak and neglected. The two rows of barracks housed men without families, but living conditions here were overcrowded, cold and wet; horrible, in a word. There are also remains of the mill and entrance to the mine.

By David Medcalf on wikicommons

**Please note that many of the buildings and ruins can be dangerous and unstable, and great care should be taken while exploring. The mine shafts and adits should not be entered unless by experienced cavers and with the permission of the owner. Slate is very slippery when wet, so great care should be taken at all times.

These directions are for guidance only. The Oakeley Arms can accept no responsibility for any loss, damage or injury resulting from the use of this information. The information quoted is correct at the time of writing. Always take a map with you and be prepared for the weather for turn. Do not venture out in bad weather.

Check with staff if you need any help with these directions or guidance to the starting point.