This mine is situated just off the A44 Aberystwyth road, about 3 miles West of Ponterwyd. There is a minor road on the left, just before the bends, which gives access to the site. Proceeding up a hill, you pass the run-in Deep Adit down in the valley to the right, as well as the rubbish-filled Western Shaft on the hillside to the left. Soon, extensive spoil heaps come into view, emanating from the run-in Upper Adit, which must have been the main tramming level. Above the road is the open Shallow Adit, at about NGR SN704806, and higher still is a row of shafts. All the shafts are blocked some distance down except for one, which connects with the forementioned Shallow Adit.

Shallow Adit is driven as a crosscut and, after about 25 metres of knee-deep wading, the vein is reached. This is all the water there is as the rest of the mine is quite dry. There is a collapse on the vein but a way on to the left. A short crawl reaches a point where daylight comes in from above and the level breaks into the head of a narrow stope, which hades down to the left. Shallow Adit is explorable for some distance through collapsing workings but the main way on is down. Damian McCurdy informs me that he explored this level some years ago and that there was no way down, so there must have been a collapse which opened this pitch up. The whole place is very unstable so care is needed, more on this later.

I placed some bolts in 1994 and made a partial descent but I decided that it was far too dangerous and came back up. In 1995, I returned and cleared a lot of rock from the pitch head. I also took out the upper part of a stull a few feet down. It is now reasonable with care but a boulder the size of a fridge is best avoided. The pitch itself is an easy 50ft down the footwall, the landing being a pile of debris in Upper Adit.

Upper Adit is explorable in both directions. East passes through some interesting small stope workings to a collapse at about 45 metres. The passage floor here was a mass of clog prints and there were no signs of any previous modern explorers. West passes a winze on the left to reach a collapsed stope. This was almost passable by a ledge on the footwall but for the last few feet. I have fitted a traverse line here, of good quality climbing rope. It is an easy traverse which belies the difficulty I had doing the job! At one point, there was nowhere to place a piton but, by sheer luck, I noticed a shothole just above my head. Also by sheer luck I found a drill steel to fit it. On the other side of the traverse was a pile of loose boulders but these are now all on the bottom of the stope. The passage gained was about 40 metres of interesting level to a forehead. There are many tallow candle stubs on the hanging wall and a climbing chain leads up to a working platform.

The forementioned stope can be freely descended via a rubble slope but it is blind. The winze back down the level has a heavy baulk of timber across it, suitable for a belay. I have also placed two bolts nearby as a backup. A short length of electron ladder or a daisy chain is needed to get in and out at the top. The pitch is just over 30ft free hanging to a narrow sloping ledge, where the pitch breaks into the roof of an enormous stope. This position is very exposed. There is then another 70ft of near vertical descent with no rebelays necessary. The floor has a lot of rubble from collapses of major sections of the hanging wall. To the West is a rubble slope from the collapse of the stope in the level above and there are huge boulders perched above your head. To the East it is possible to negotiate more huge boulders to reach another large winze.

It looked about 60ft but too dangerous to descend. A rock thrown down produced a splash and I had the impression that this area is all resting on timber. What may be the 32 Fathom Level can be seen breaking in about 20ft up but cannot be reached.

When cleaning the ropes after my last visit, I was alarmed to find that the rope used on the first pitch was cut about a third of the way through. I never noticed this when I was prusiking out, although I did hear a fall of rock while in the mine but thought nothing of it. I would therefore strongly recommend that an exploration group leave someone watching the rope at the head of the first pitch.

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



Last revised: 21 April 1998