I knew Kate was going to be around in the weekend. So I checked if she was up for a walk. And she was! But the weather forecast wasn't particularly good, so I didn't want to do anything too spectacular. When I was pondering where to go, I remembered my book about slate. It had a chapter about housing quarrymen. And it mentioned one mine I had only visited once, because it is a little bit out of the way. What I hadn't noticed at the time was that a bit away from the quarry, there still were the remains of houses that had been built for the quarrymen. It was basically 18 semis on three streets, and each of the dwellings with a small plot of land. There isn't an awful lot of them left; hence probably that I hadn't realised it at the time. But the book mentioned that it was a peculiar scheme; the roads had been drawn with a ruler with total disregard for the topography. And the plots were outlined on rather barren land, which was not likely to yield an awful lot of food for the quarrymen. The book dryly describes the situation as "like Mynydd Llandygai, but then unsuccessful". Some of the plots in that village are still in use! And all the houses are still inhabited.
Anyway; she was up for it, and we met in Nantmor. While I was waiting for her (I was a bit early) it rained rather heavily. Oh dear! But everything that would fall then would not fall on our heads. But I put on all my waterproofs. And when Kate arrived she did the same.
We set off. I had had time to look at the map in the car so I thought I knew where to go. And the path was beautiful! It went through the woods, and where it came out we saw a little structure. We decided that was a good location for a coffee. But the view puzzled us. This was not where we were supposed to be! Where we were, there were no paths on the map. None of the iterations of map that we had. But we didn't have trouble to find out where it was we were. And we decided to just bushwhack to where we were supposed to be.
|the beautiful path|
Along the way we decided to walk the Slate Trail later in the summer. I'm looking forward to it already! But back to the here and now; the weather was great and the waterproofs came off. We navigated without problems to where we needed to be. And then the moment came; we saw the quarry over the ridge of the hill. And with that, we also saw the houses!
|Beautiful ruins and beautiful weather on the way to the quarry|
The path brings you to the top of the quarry, and it is difficult to cross over to the other side, what with the gaping pit in the middle. So we decided to just walk to the bottom and from there hit the road that still lead in the direction of the houses. It was quite the road! And it had a really funny leaning wall looming over it over one stretch. And after a while it came through a dreamy copse; later I realised that was where the quarry manager had had his house. Behind the copse we found another ruin; that one looked industrial. And then we came to the junction of the road that lead to the Victorian idea of a housing estate!
We walked up to it and had a look. These weren't big houses, but no one would have expected them to be. And it was indeed funny to see the complete disregard for the topography in the layout. We set down in the middle of the remains of one of the houses and had some lunch. And we decided to walk down to the end of this road, and then bushwhack back to the road with the leaning wall. That was harder than expected! The terrain was atrocious, with unstable and steep clumps of grass teetering above marshland. I think we just about managed to get across with dry socks and no twisted ankles. By then my knee did hurt, though; I am getting old. And we saw bad weather approach. It started raining, and the waterproof jackets came back out.
|last view on the quarry before we descended into the next valley. You can see the rain coming over the pass|
On the other side of the hill there was rain as far as the eye could see. This was going to get interesting! We strolled briskly. And this time, we took the route we had intended to take on the way out. It wasn't ideal; thanks to the weather, the path was a stream. And everything next to the path was a lake. Soon we were completely resigned and sloshed through calf deep water. It was completely impossible to avoid! And I was getting cold; I knew my waterproof jacket wasn't really waterproof. It had never really done what they needed to do even though I had purposefully bought a high-end one. And for that reason I am hesitant to do it again. I can throw hundreds of pounds at it again, but will the result be any better? I know it can be done; my waterproof trousers really really are waterproof. Maybe I should just buy a few second-hand rain jackets hoping that one of them will be better than this one. The trousers were second-hand!
Along the way we passed a big shelter, and sat there for a few minutes. Then we went back to the path. It was a bit challenging! It was steep and rocky, and it was also a stream, so it was very slippery. But we managed to negotiate that successfully as well.
Fairly soon we were back in civilisation. We found a roof to stand underneath, and changed into dry clothes as well as we could. We wanted to go and have a nice hot chocolate at a café! We chose the old chapel at the start of the Watkin path: Caffi Gwynant. And it was open!
They had roofed picnic tables on the terrace, so we were dry. I was just warm enough! But it was nice to drink something hot in civilisation. We went for seconds. And then it was time to go home! It had been a much more epic walk then I had anticipated. Some 10 miles, and 700 m ascent. And a heck of a lot of rain. But a good day nonetheless!