The following underground explorations were undertaken as part of my ongoing Mid Wales project and here, yet again, I have been able to gain ground not previously entered by modern explorers. These mines are situated near Pontrhydygroes from where the deep adit is driven.

Underground access is possible from several places, there are many open shafts and levels, however many of the shafts are in a dangerous condition and have been used for the dumping of rubbish. Also, the depth of many of the shafts has to be a factor which would deter the explorer from an S.R.T. descent. The Pontrydygroes adit gives about 700ft of dry backs. It is interesting to note that what has been discovered would tend to cast some doubt on some of what has previously been written about these mines in the British Geological Survey (B.G.S.).

These were five points of entry as follows :-

1. East Glogfach Shaft (SN753710)

This is a huge yawning chasm sunk on the footwall of the vein. At the time of my explorations I drove a length of scaffold pole into the ground to form a decent belay, however I would counsel some caution to anyone thinking of making a descent now. This shaft has been used over the years for the dumping of rubbish, which has now included some broken glass. The fact that it is sunk at about 62 degrees rather than vertical gives rise to foul rope conditions.

Geological survey memoirs describe the shaft as a deep trial, being sunk to a depth of 15 fathoms below an adit driven eastward to meet it, indeed the geological map after page 120 shows the portal of such an adit. However, this must be incorrect as the ground rises to the west. There is an adit to this shaft, which is collapsed at the portal, and can be seen to come in from the west just below the track. It connects with the shaft at a depth of 80ft and is in waist deep water for about 50 yards to the collapsed portal.

Descending the shaft for about another 120ft reaches a level going west towards the main workings, this must obviously be the adit referred to in B.G.S. At this point is the top of a rising main and exploring the level reaches a forehead after about 40 yards. It was probably intended to connect with the main workings and pump to this level to dewater by the Pontrhydygroes Deep Level but the vein was too poor to make the project pay. B.G.S. states that the shaft was sunk 15 fathoms below this, which is 90feet. Well I was able to descent by another 50 ft or so before I ran out of rope and looking down there was still a long way to go, so this figure must be incorrect. I think that I could see a mass of rubbish, rocks thrown down would produce an occasional splash, again I think.

2. Two Upper Adits (SN748705 & SN749705)

Both are driven as cross cuts, the one lower down the track reaching a collapse at about 15 yards. The first connects with the vein at about the same distance, at this point there is a winze. It is possible to explore stope workings to the south for some distance.

The winze is an easy descent of about 50 feet down the footwall, the bottom opening into a large stope going to the east. It was possible to explore for about 15yards to a point where the floor has collapsed, in fact this area has large sections of the hanging wall which have come down over the years. Also at one point it is possible to climb up into working where there are the initials SCMC 1977, does anyone know anything about this?

It was also possible to climb down about 20 ft or so, I think that this was the limit of previous explorers. By belaying a rope to a wooden stemple I was able to do a swinging traverse of the section of missing floor, not very daunting as the drop was only about 15ft. I have left a traverse line in situ, as is my usual procedure. The level gained went in two directions, like a letter Y, and in this area there is a packwall with an old paraffin tin and the first clay pipe that I have discovered in Wales. Exploration of the right fork took me to a window into a huge stope. Two bolts where placed here, one at the end of the passage, another through the widow at the head of the pitch. A descent was then made using S.R.T. techniques.

As these workings are very loose and dangerous, the route down is very complicated, the descent being down the footwall and consisting of short verticals and steep slopes. An initial descent of about 50ft took me to some very large boulders, here I decided to free climb down past these on slack rope. Once past I fitted another bolt, rebelayed, and continued down a few feet to the head of an incredible 'avalanche slope' of very loose rocks, which included some fair sized boulders. A rock thrown down would produce an incredible roar as this mass went on the move. At this point there is a very impressive view of the stope, in places there are huge stemples made from complete tree trunks up to 15 feet long. By clearing ground at the top, I was able to swing across and rebelay to a stemple at the other side, this was done by lassooing it with a long tape weighted with a crab. Next, a descent of about 25ft to a stull piled with loose rocks. It was necessary to descend directly on to this and do some clearance work. A further descent of about 25 feet barely reached the floor of the stope. Here, I was at the end of my 40metre rope. I then discovered that the floor was a mass of boulders wedged into the stope, this was the cause of some disappointment to me as I had hoped to reach a main tramming level. I joined on a second rope and continued my descent through the boulders, however I had to abort this descent as the ground was far too dangerous.

I shall now return to the level above, gained by the traverse. Here, I explored in the other direction to reach a rubble slope of about 30ft. This looks an easy free climb, but its looks are deceptive. I have fitted a bolt for a hand line. This descent does actually reach a level, which can be explored in both directions. West leads to what can be best described as a void, there is a face here suitable for bolting, and it looks about 60ft freehanging. However, it would be necessary to squeeze down past a fallen stemple of uncertain stability, also there is a mass of rock coming down from above. I therefore decided not to do this one. The other direction led to a fall of loose rocks coming down the footwall from the right. I returned another week, and was able to get some timber in and clear a way through, however it was only about 10yards to another fall.

The above explorations would be reasonable for any properly equipped party, however, I feel than any attempt to explore deeper would be very dangerous and probably pointless. In view of the state of the workings, it is likely that most of the main levels would have collapsed into the stopes.

3. Deep Adit (SN745702)

This is the only level driven from the base of the hill that I was able to discover in the vicinity, and is driven from a point several hundred yards to the west of the workings, it being only a trial. It is entered in water, which is chest deep and crystal clear, and seems to be a major breeding ground for frogs. It is about 250 yards of cross cut to the vein, where the vein has been driven on in both directions for a few yards only. There is no connection with the main workings. B.G.S. Memoirs mention an adit into the workings south east of Glogfawr Engine Shaft from which the various levels are reckoned. I could find no sign of such an adit, but it is possible that it has become buried under spoil. However, my explorations did take me down to some depth, and I discovered no sign of any other cross cut entering the workings.

4. Open Workings at Glogfach

These are a waste of time and lead nowhere.

5. Proberts Deep Level [Level Fawr] (SN741728)

This level is situated on private ground, which at the time of writing belongs to Mr Peter Harvey, who owns the Llangynog Mining Museum. So permission must be sought. Damian McCurdy was kind enough to arrange permission to visit this level, therefore I am able to give a description.

From the portal, it is driven as across cut, in a dead straight line for about 780 metres. Here, at this point there is a minor vein where the level was (until recently) blocked by falls. This has been dug through by associates of Peter Harvey who have fitted lengths of plastic sewer pipe to keep the level open. From here the level continues for another 70-80 metres to cross cut the workings of Logaulas. Here there are levels going east and west. To the east the level is seen to be exploratory, and it ends at a forehead. To the west a level follows the vein where short exploratory rises have been put up to test the lode. Eventually, the level enters an area of high stopes, here there is an in situ S.R.T. rope. Passing through the stopes, the level divides. Both directions being an attempt to relocate the vein. Both end at foreheads.

The S.R.T. rope presents a relatively easy ascent of about 50ft, however there is a small amount of difficulty getting off at the top. Here, the rope passes over a timber platform. A short level is gained here, which leads to a hopper. In the level is a low timber ore truck which served the aforementioned hopper, and close by a stack of miners tools. It is possible to climb up through the hopper, and up into a stope. Here a point is reached where no further progress is possible.

Back in the main Level Fawr, the level continues for another 700 metres to a rise in the level, obviously, the result of faulty dialling. The level must have been driven from both directions. A short climb up some old ladder reaches the continuation of the level. From this point the level continues for another 120 metres to the point where it intersects the workings of Glogfach and Glogfawr. Here there is a short level to the right where there are two wheelbarrows with wooden wheels. These are similar to the one in Frongoch. Straight ahead there is a tight crawl leading into a collapsed stope.

The only way on is by way of a steep and very loose rubble slope to the left. It reaches a point where there is a very strong draught, and it is theoretically possible to continue upwards in a southerly direction. However, this area is so unstable as to make any such move highly undesirable. Apart from the personal risk, there is the real danger of a collapse blocking off the exit at the bottom, however, with a little timberwork, this area could be secured.

It is interesting to note that, again, the workings as explored differ from the plan in the B.G.S. memoirs. All of the workings at adit level on the Logaulas lode are accessible, and yet they differ from the plan. At no point did I see any connection with any shaft from surface. There are several shafts shown on the plan, so they must connect with the workings at a different level. Also on Logaulas lode, the plan shows the workings to be far more extensive then they are. It is interesting to note that there was no sign of any stoping below adit, and the area of stoping on the Logoulas lode only extends for a few metres. This indicates that the mineralisation failed completely with depth. One bit that the mining companies did miss must be at the vein where the falls occurred. Here, there are nearly solid lumps of galena there for the picking!

At the time of writing, the ground around the Portal is up for sale, together with the cottage. When it is sold, one can only hope that the new owner will be prepared to allow access.

extracted from "Glogfach & Glogfawr Mines", Roy Fellows, SCMC Journal No.6



Last revised: 21 April 1998