A common man marvels at uncommon things. A wise man marvels at the commonplace. CONFUCIUS

Saturday, 7 June 2008

Slate Mine And Castle

Before the June Tabor concert in Harlech on 19 April I looked round the little preserved mining settlement of Pentre Llechwedd at the Llechwydd Slate Caverns just north of Blaenau Ffestiniog. Slate has been quarried and mined here from the mid-19th century. You could take a tour underground but I stayed on the surface and visited the smithy, the Miners' Arms pub, the old-fashioned sweet shop and the cottage birthplace of David Francis (1865-1929), the blind harpist of Meirionydd. Apparently choughs nest in the vicinity but I didn't see any.

Later I drove over the Crimea Pass and came to the impressive keep of Dolwyddelan Castle in the valley beyond (1st pic). This castle was built by Welsh Prince Llewelyn the Great, but was captured by the English forces of Edward I in 1283. I left the car in the station car park in Dolwyddelan village and walked for a couple of miles along the River Lledr to Pont-y-pant, from where I followed the route of Sarn Helen, an old Roman road, across high forested ground to Betws-y-Coed in the next valley. Betws-y-Coed (meaning Prayer House in the Wood) is a honeypot town with plenty of cafés and shops selling outdoor gear. I took the bus back to Dolwyddelan.

Early next morning, which was Sunday 20 April, I packed up my tent and made for home. The 2nd pic shows the view back towards the campsite and was taken just before I left.

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