Croesor-Rhosydd Through-trip - Alastair Gott
Not exactly a TSG trip, but all the same, on Saturday the 29th of August I went with 9 others from YUCPC to do the Croesor to Rhosydd through trip. Having heard of many people who had done the trip and heard of the reputation of the through trip I have always been unsure. But knowing that Martyn Grayson has done it as a 'fell race' in less than an hour, I knew that it couldn't be that bad.
Being a few more people than the normal groups of 3's and solo fell races that some people do through here I was expecting a good days trip, and the slate mines did not disappoint. After a leisurely start we rolled out of the Dan-y-Mynydd hut in Tanygrisiau at about midday and strolled up the hill. What a stunning landscape. We had a look at some of the buildings outside Croesor Mine and were avidly trying to work out the purpose of the building in front of the current entrance. we settled that it must be some kind of waterwheel house with a semi-circle roof on top. Water, we decided, would be directed down the channels in the hillside above and then be directed by some wooden shuttering to force it onto a ramp above the current entrance and into a water wheel, thus powering some machinery either mechanically or electronically. Perhaps some compressed air?
On entering the mine, we were hopelessly blinded because of the lovely sunny weather we had just abandoned. And we therefore had to pause without lights to allow ourselves to adjust. We carried on through the grey gloom looking at some of the chambers on the way up and lobbing bits of slate in like hooligans to hear the water make splashy noises. After a short period we arrived at the first pitch and discussed the possibility of a house-sized block falling out of the roof of the chamber that some may describe as being "bigger than it ever has right to be". This chamber is vast and the blocks are not small either... care and being as quiet as a mouse was needed here.
On the other side of the chamber we came to the second pitch, which has an interesting assortment of ropes draped around some of the large blocks to act as some sort of tri-hang. (afternote: on the next day we went to Parys Mountain mine, and one of the guides says he remembers doing this trip about 50 odd years ago, and at the bottom of the second pitch you could just walk along a flat floor into the next stope). After the second pitch you climb down a slope of big rocks till you arrive at a pool of water, this was crossed by the use of an in-situ pulley (bring your own just in case!) down a wire zipline! awesome fun, though the pulley could do with a little grease as it didn't get you halfway down the wire before it ground to a halt, leaving you with 5m of Tyrollean traversing.
Then came the watery bridge of death, followed by a few more non watery bridges of death (or non existent Bridges of death). much fun with a mixture of walking the bridges, Tyrollean traversing the bridges and also rope traversing round some of the chambers. The abseil descent into the canoe was the next bit of this brilliant trip, shortly followed by the link between the two mines, which would have once been bricked up. In Rhosydd Mine there are some fantastic artefacts like a big slope with a minecart carrier which had some turntables on it, they didn't do things by half-measures here! We strolled up to the top and saw the winder at the top and also half way up the slope was a counterbalance for helping with hauling the minecarts up and down this 30-45 degree slope. some of the best preserved minecart tracks I have ever seen.
I'm sure there is much more to see, and I may well be back at some point to have a good look at some of the side passages in this mine.