24 May 2016

Take a climber down a small mine

The Thursdaynighters and the climbers are merging! The previous month, we had had Ika of the climbing club underground. Climbing man Eifion had heard that, and wanted to come too. Of course he was welcome! His first underground trip wouldn't be too spectacular; Paul had found a slate quarry in the Gwydyr forest hardly any of us had heard of, let alone been to. It wasn't likely to be big, but it sounded interesting. That was our goal this week.

Eifion is one of the people I tend to speak Welsh with; he's a patient man, and a proud Welshman. I never speak Welsh with David; I tried to initiate such a few times in the past, but that tended to end in him mocking me (in English) so I had acquired such a dent in my Welsh ego I had never recovered from it. And now we would share a car with the three of us; I had the idea this might help! Surely he'd join in when Eifion and I would naturally converse in Welsh. But no. He refused and spoke English only. Pity! I hoped a nice side effect of having Eifion around would be more Welsh practice. Oh well. I'll have to speak Welsh with him in private.

We drove in Eifion's car (mine struggles; it lacks power and height on this bumpy, steep country road!) to where we'd meet up; we were early, and we showed him the mill of Hafna first. Having Eifion there turned out to have another, unforeseen, advantage; packing my bag I realised I had left my sandwiches in the office. I tend to have a warm lunch on Thursdays, and have my dinner (sandwiches, of course) in the mine. But not tonight! I would have to go hungry. Except that Eifion gave me a packet of nuts and raisins! A life saver.

Once we were all there we walked along the forest track to where the mine was roughly supposed to be. We did some drippy and brambly bush-whacking until we came up an indicative spoil tip, and then a very nicely manicured path. Hm! That would have been an easier approach. But from that path we soon saw the entrance. It looked like something from an action movie! Jungle and gaping holes and dangling vegetation. We went in. Clearly, people did that more often; there was a fireplace near the entrance.

 The entrance

 The entrance form the inside

We scampered around a bit. At some point I ended up scampering to the far end with Corin. It wasn't big but it was fun! It pretty much was an elongated mine in a cliff face, so every now and then a gaping entrance flooded green light into the chamber. I went back around the outside; not a good choice, as the landscape was made up of big rocks with so much moss on them you couldn't see where you put your feet. When I came back to the others I found David who asked me if I had lost my guest. Eh, maybe! I went to look for Eifion again. Then we all went down to where I had been with Corin. David took some pics.

Pic by David

We then went back to where we had started. Paul and David along the inside, and Efion, Simon, Jay and me along the outside, but this time over the path. Corin was nowhere to be seen. When I reached the path with Eifion the others had vanished. Oh dear! We walked closer to the entrance chamber when we noticed smoke. Lots of it! Where would that come from? Then I remembered the fireplace, and Corin. That must be the answer! We went back to that chamber where indeed he had a cosy fire going. We sat down, waiting for the others. We all sat there for a bit longer; a fire is rather mesmerising. But then we went back to the cars. Along the path, this time. And we had a pint on the way back! That doesn't happen very often. But with such a small mine you get that. Next time we'll have to bring Eifion somewhere bigger!

Pic by David

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