Cwm Penmachno

Cwm Penmachno

Cwm Penmachno is a village at the head of a valley with the same name. It is just within the Snowdonia National Park in North Wales and was built in the 1860s as a quarry settlement. The Cwm Machno quarry lies to the south above the settlement and I had heard that the two slate mines that make up the higher reaches of the quarry are considered remote and a break from all the increased visitors to the honey spots of the national park.

Cwm Penmacho mines as far as I can establish are unfortunately not included in the recently announced World Heritage Site which you can read more about at the Wales Slate.

Rhiw Fachno slate mine towers above the settlement of Cwm Penmachno and Rhiw Bach mine is further up the valley above Rhiw Fachno and was at one time one of Wale’s most remote mines.

Well, the peace and quiet I was expecting did not materialise at least on arriving as the small makeshift car park was overflowing with vehicles but luckily almost immediately a crowd of climbers or cavers appeared, packed up and left leaving me to find a good parking space after all and some peace and quiet.

Rhiw Fachno

I headed up the track from the Cwm Penmachno car park towards Rhiw Fachno and whilst the initial part was a reasonably steady slope it soon started to kick up eventually leading onto a flatter area with great views of the surrounding landscape down Cwm Penmachmo with its vibrant green fields being a stunning contrast to the desolation of the mine remains in the foreground.

Cwm Machno
Cwm Penmacho from Rhiw Fachno
Rhiw Fachno Abandoned Building

From here the track gets steeper again as I work my way up and through the abandoned buildings and workings of the mine with a mixture of desolate landscapes with no living fauna except for the seasonal heather then in full bloom. Other areas are being slowly covered with small trees, ferns and grasses. I could have spent a full day just wandering through these areas as there were so many photo opportunities. Here’s just a couple showing the variation in the landscape.

Eventually having passed through the Rhiw Fachno mine the track levels out for a short while with opportunities to take a rest and admire the views before continuing through a gate and into a small plantation of conifers enclosing the track on both sides which sheltered me from the bright sunlight that I had been fortunate enough have with me for most of the walk.

Rhiw Bach

Shortly after leaving the woodland areas the second mine Rhiw Bach started to appear with a large hollow and an entrance to the underground workings now with restricted access. This is was the quarrying area for this mine.

I didn’t find any photo opportunities in this area so continued up the next incline to reach the abandoned buildings of the mine located at about 600 feet above where I started. This area was completely flat which probably explains why it was chosen for the operation buildings. The only noticeable change in level was made by the spoil heaps which were neatly laid out waiting for the fauna to engulf them although a few small conifers had already gained a hold nearby.

Rhiw Bach Spoil Heaps

This is an area again where I could spend a good few hours exploring as there are many photo opportunities of both disused buildings including the engine house and its chimney and interesting relics of the old mining industry.

Rhiw Bach Engine House
Rhiw Bach Processing Building Foundations

The area also provides many opportunities to expand my Intimate Landscapes Collection created by both man and nature itself as you can see below.

Miners Intials

Slowly the light was beginning to fade and with about a mile to walk back down to the car park I took my time as the knee problem that I had referred to in my Glyders Challenge post started to play up again on the downward slopes.

Other images from this Cwm Penmachno photo walk and many more can be found in the Snowdonia and North Wales gallery where you can purchase your own prints, canvases and other forms of wall art as well as stock image downloads for commercial and personal use.

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