This exploration was undertaken as part of my ongoing project of trying to access workings not previously entered by modern explorers.

The centre of the mine is situated at NGR SN837971 and is very close to the mountain road from Llanidloes to Machynlleth, the workings actually passing under the road. The obvious sign of mining activity is an open gunnis just south of the road, which is now filled with scrap motor cars and other rubbish. Slightly further to the south and downhill there is an open level heading north. To the north of the road there are two other levels heading towards the workings from the other direction, another upper level and a deep adit, both run in. The deep adit is very conspicuous by its very large amount of spoil, this would indicate very extensive underground workings. David Bick mentions a 50 horsepower horizontal engine pumping via flat rods through the deep adit. It is highly likely that there is some of this equipment left in situ underground and this was part of the incentive for the project. On the other side of this valley are the workings of Rhoswydol, which was worked with Bacheiddon up to 1863 when the mine closed.

The open level is a cross cut and, after about 20 yards, it leads to a lode stoped out to the left of the level to depth. After a further 20 yards the main lode is reached, seen on the surface in the form of the gunnis. This area is very unstable, with rusty car axles hanging from the roof and a steep slope of rubble to the edge of a drop of unknown depth. West along this lode is another possible route down but large amounts of loose rock again make this too dangerous to attempt. Returning back along the level, I decided to go for the first, or south, lode. Here there was a pitch with a mass of loose rock on the right but, by a bit of clearance work and "bombing", I was able to establish a reasonable route by placing bolts on the left (footwall) side. The pitch was 12ft to a ledge, then a further free-hanging descent of just under 30ft to a steep rubble slope. At the bottom of this rubble slope, there was a further descent of about 25ft down a drystone lined shaft reminiscent of the North Pennines. This shaft is probably free-climbable but should be considered dangerous due to the slope of loose rock leading down to it. I should remark in passing that this mine is best explored in dry weather. The entrance cross cut varies from bone dry to thigh deep wading, dependent on the weather, and in wet weather water runs down the various pitches and tends to act upon the masses of loose rock which prevail in this mine. Be warned!

The second pitch is in a stope with a solid roof and two further winzes, gained after more scrambling up and down rubble slopes. One is blocked at the top but the other at the end is open, although there was a large boulder balanced on the edge. I destroyed this at a later date with a sledge hammer, so as to provide an alternative route to the one I am about to describe.

The drystone winze was descended, after placing a bolt in the footwall at its head. At the bottom was another short rubble slope under some very rotten timber supporting tons of deads. The way on here was blocked by a very large boulder but with a gap of a few inches at one end. I tried to enlarge this with a sledge hammer but to no avail. I therefore decided to dig underneath it. This squeeze is very tight and is actually worse then it looks. Be advised that I am a 39 inch chest and rescue from beyond this point would be impossible. The squeeze leads directly into a very steep rubble slope and a handline is mandatory here. I placed a rebelay bolt just above the boulder for this purpose. Without a rope, there is no way anyone would get back through the squeeze, or indeed up and down the slope in relative safety.

At the bottom of the slope is a short 20ft pitch and a rebelay here to some sound stemples is essential. At the bottom, I found a cross cut heading north with chest deep water. The south lode continued for another 15 yards or so after climbing over a bank of deads. The flooded cross cut went for about 20 yards or so, passing a blind heading on the left. Just past a hopper with a mass of boulders above, I reached the main lode. Because of all the water, I thought that I had reached the deep adit but this was not so. The water had built up behind a collapse to within a few inches of the roof. I soon cleared a way through, producing a rush of water which poured down a shaft a few feet beyond. Crawling through, I found myself in a large stope which haded up in the direction I had just come from. To the left (west) there was a steep slope of rubbish from the surface openworks. There was the carcase of a dead sheep and even a dead rat. To the right (east) the stope ended a few feet past the rubble pile. The pitch in front of me was much too dangerous to descend, being overhung with rubble and junk from above.

I should like to end with a few comments. A disappointing feature of the workings gained was almost a complete absence of artifacts, I only found a few bits of ironwork and a rusty tin. In addition, a curious feature of the underground workings is the fact that, while the south lode (the one I descended) is very ochreous, the one to the north has a complete absence of this material.

Another point is the question of where the upper adit on the north side enters the workings. I saw no sign of this underground, although it appears to be on the same horizon as the upper adit on the south. I feel that it must come in further to the east, probably into the area of workings filled with old cars. The upper south adit probably represents the first level driven, then at a later date the two northern levels were put in by the Rhoswydol people for easier tramming to their dressing floors.

The large amount of spoil at the deep adit does not seem to me to relate to the scale of the workings as explored. It is possible that the north lode has stopes from the level I reached right down to deep adit but I think that this is unlikely. A considerable amount of material was probably removed from the underground shaft and exploratory drives to the east and west.

Finally, although the pitches are novice standard in terms of depth, the whole mine is very unstable, particularly in wet weather. It should therefore be explored with the greatest of care. I am very doubtful about whether the deep adit could be gained, even after a lot of clearance work to secure the final pitch. I would expect the pitch to be blocked some way down. I also feel that the deep adit is probably flooded to above roof level. After my explorations, I went down the other valley to the site of the deep adit to check on the amount of water leaving the workings, remembering that I had released quite a torrent. The water leaving the adit, however, was just the usual trickle so water must be backed up to quite a depth.

extracted from "Bacheiddon Mine", Roy Fellows, SCMC Journal No.4



Last revised: 21 April 1998