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Mine Exploration Forum

Author Berty Basset Rides Again (sort of)
BertyBasset

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Joined: 13/12/2007
Location: Caernarfon, North Wales

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Berty Basset Rides Again (sort of)
Posted: 28/08/2016 01:20:26
Having had a good rummage through the spoils at Bwlch y Plwm, and finding several chunks of rock with good specks of galena in, I thought it was time to venture underground.

Now, I had a shed rummage 3 months ago, and decided that unfortunately, my old caving gear which had been festering away for the last 20 years could not really be trusted. So goodbye Stop, goodbye CS harness, goodbye Oldham, goodbye cave and mine exploration.

So, 2 cheapish generic climbing helmets + 2 similarly priced chinese led lamps saw me an my son at Bwlch y Plwm. Almost 20years since I was last there. I always liked Bwlch y Plwm. I came across it by accident after a foray over the hill at Catherine and Jane. Bick never mentioned BYP in his books, or if he did, he did not point out that it's the most extensive metal mine in the area. Coming down that evening through the chest deep bracken we chanced upon the deep adit, traversed through to the interesting central area, and were overjoyed to exit after a climb and a trundle across a rickety bridge.

Other run ins with Bwlch y Plwm were in doing a rough survey and assisting in the rescue of someone who'd cracked something on the abseil from the top entrance.

So my observations today? Well the water in the deep adit is cold. There are several mosquitoes and big moths in the entrance section. There's a big pile of leaves and some black plastic bags at the base of the shaft under the 'Roman' level. The bit marked as air shaft on the survey which probably corresponds to the first set of surface spoil looks interesting. I wonder if anyone has climbed up? There appears to be what may be a dam next to the spoil up top.

There are loads of interesting iron stalls, some specks of galena, manganese staining, and some beautiful blue secondary copper mineralisation in places (after the central complex). In some parts of the adit, there is quite a bit of clay underfoot. One of the side passages in particular is particularly clay rich, and you can squeeze off what looks like rock, but is clay from the roof. I assume these are some sort of feldspar rich, maybe volcanic weathered rocks.

It's also interesting that roof percolation is not constant throughout the deep adit, not neccesarily correlated with cross cuts. Neither are iron deposits. Sometimes there are significant iron stalls just in the the deep adit.

Quite a bit of rail track has been preserved, mainly in crosscuts further in. Although the tracks weave left and right, they seem to be sections of straight tracks, not lining up anymore where the fastenings have corroded. Someone with some yellow paint called Idris have been in, as well as someone with red paint who may have been marking survey stations.

The termination of the adit to me comes across as quite sad. No crosscut or exploratory drive. It just splits into two in the vain hope of hitting something. And they both stop.

Will we be back? Absolutely.
IP: 86.150.19.179 Edited: 28/08/2016 01:43:43 by BertyBasset
BertyBasset

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Location: Caernarfon, North Wales

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Berty Basset Rides Again (sort of)
Posted: 06/09/2016 13:55:37
3 Sep 2016
The plan was to do some South Wales caving, either Eglwys Faen, or a general prod about in the Little Neath caves. However the early arrival of torrential rain forced a rethink. The obvious alternative was Dinas Silica mine, a mine I'd heard of but not been to.

Arriving at the impressive Dinas Rock we were greeted by hordes of outdoor types with helmets and lifejackets; it appears that the main draw here was the exploration of the swollen Afon Sychryd.

After a false start up to the impressive Bwa Maen, and a view of the swollen falls, we backtracked and headed up the path behind Dinas Rock and down again to the river to the obvious entrances to the Upper Mine. The entrance was pumping out large volumes of cold air into the warm, humid surroundings.

Passing Roy's signs, we traversed in following the same level, passing the daylight openings above and to the left. Returned and followed what appears to be a tramway downwards to the bottom level. Levels beneath appear to be sporadically flooded, and occasionally blocked with rubble or bars. We then headed inwards again, passing some collapsed timberwork to the end.

The bottom level next to the river appears to be quite prone to falls. There are also sections of roof where sections (maybe a couple of inches thick) of bedding are peeling off.

Upon exit, we crossed the bridge and explored the tunnel opposite. This looks like an exploratory mine that was never developed.

Then back to the car in the rain, then a drive back down to Swansea.

IP: 217.9.203.195
BertyBasset

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Location: Caernarfon, North Wales

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Berty Basset Rides Again (sort of)
Posted: 28/05/2017 01:34:18
Have neglected this a bit. We had an Engine Vein open day, and an Apdale extended trip, the later was very interesting, and conveyed the intracies of manual coal working as opposed to long wall, let everything behind collapse, in the modern style of mining.

Anyway, someone on AN or the caving site suggested I arrange a private visit to West Mine, which I did, and which we visited today. We were led by Nigel and his friend Pete, and this is a rough interpretation of what I think we saw.

The original opencast is bricked up and overgrown. The current entrance is in the adjacent field and a covered shaft led to a short passage leading to the workings.

The mine which has been worked on several horizons seems to be split into two sections bounded by a fault. In the first section the horizons have been worked together leading to cavernous voids. The workings continue down dip until a perpendicular fault is encountered.

The ore bearing beds are now offset 60' up, so now a single narrow, upwards trending passage links the mine so far visited with mineralised beds on the other side of the fault. The workings now are more delineated, with 'glory holes' for dropping the ore between levels being common.

Vintage bottles, fosters cans, shoes, fag packets (1940s) have been preserved as a record of both mining and non mining visitors.

Mineral wise, malachite is the most common ore and is widely disseminated. We saw the bluer azurite in places. We were also shown purple beds which are purple due to fungi which, given the fungicidal properties of copper - bizarelly appear to metabolise copper minerals.

Adventure wise, this was a great trip with loads of ladders, a couple of climbs and a couple of clipped in traverses. Do yourself a favour, book a trip on the DCC website.

Non open day Engine Vein and Wood Mine trips may well be investigated.

Robin

IP: 2.96.102.64 Edited: 28/05/2017 01:56:37 by BertyBasset
BertyBasset

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Location: Caernarfon, North Wales

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Berty Basset Rides Again (sort of)
Posted: 11/06/2017 23:48:36
11 June 2017

Quick trip to Bwlch y plwm after a visit to Aldi and Costa in Port.

The little 'layby' by entrance has now been gated, so we parked by the barn further on. My good lady, who stayed in the car reported the farmer going past twice, so I assume parking there is fine.

This time, we were augmented by a set of cowstails and a belay belt - now monikered 'caving belt'. Spotted several big spiders, a slug, a beetle, and rather bizarely a canoe at the first worked vein.

The aim was a through trip out to level 3. We got up to where the route from the upper levels comes in at the top of the spoil slope, noting the frequently belayed rope. The climb up to the traverse which I must have just shined up 20 years ago didn't look sensible with just belay belt and cowstails, so I guess maybe a couple of harnesses, and maybe a jumar or two might soon become birthday presents.

The good lady is away for the next two weekends, so maybe a few longer trips may be in order.
IP: 86.166.105.160 Edited: 11/06/2017 23:50:20 by BertyBasset
BertyBasset

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Berty Basset Rides Again (sort of)
Posted: 18/06/2017 22:33:25
18 June Garreg Boeth Mine

Dave Tyson kindly led a trip down here. I followed Dave down the 10' shuttered shaft but got snagged on my fleece. I returned up, removed fleece, whilst Osian quickly disappeared down the shaft. Another go, and there was a low, narrow passage leading off at the bottom over boards. Inadvisedly, I went in feet first and encountered a bit of a constriction under some scaffolding. This was tricky not being able to see it, but I managed to squeeze through dragging my fleece behind me. This emerged at a low chamber where the others were waiting.

Fully clothed again, I followed the others through some deep gloopy mud, then a combination of crawling, thrutching and negotiating obstacles. At some point we got to a fairly deep canal which was negotiated using small ledges. We had a small detour to look at a shaft, then pleasant walking passage following a thin vein of calcite with sparse galena. Towards the end, this passage took a 90degree turn to the right before ending. This reminded me a bit of BYP, where at the termination, the passage splits into two as though frantically trying to find a vein before the money ran out. Not that you could see anything particularly worth mining here.

We retraced our steps and at a point where we had slid down some muddy boulders earlier, we slid down a muddy crawl underneath to emerge at the bottom of a surface shaft with all bits of bikes, fences, bones and shoes spilling out into the passage. We then waded through a thigh deep canal sporting small stals and curtains, mud volcanoes and gour pools.

Then a return to the junction and the crawl and wellie sucking mud passage back towards the entrance. Girth now enhanced with a liberal layer of mud, I removed fleece again and charged into the constriction. It was much easier going forwards, and I used a convenient scaffold bar to pull myself through.

An awkward climb up the shaft to intense daylight to join the others. We'd been down for about 3 hours, and this felt more like caving than mining. Tired shoulders and knocked elbows. Dave says some of it natural, and some of it did appear to have a vadose looking roof. On the way home we had a quick shandy in the Raven in Llanarmon.

All in all, an interesting, if energetic trip in a part of Wales which I've walked a lot, but only rarely visited underground. Thanks again to Dave.
IP: 86.166.63.51 Edited: 18/06/2017 22:34:34 by BertyBasset
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