My Own Storm

With storm Callum rolling over Wales this weekend, any chance getting the boats in the water for a sea dive was out of the window – not that anyone wants to dive at the moment with the current vis(ibility) shortage. Having pencilled in a Capernwray dive for Sunday, something a little more exciting was in need for the Saturday.

Originally I had planned to park up at Llyn Ogwen and hike to Llyn Idwal and Llyn Bochlwyd. Having dived Llynnau Cwm Silyn the previous weekend, I’d determined that a 2Km walk with dive gear was certainly doable, if a little tiring. Making two trips definitely helped! Both Llyn Idwal and Llyn Bochlwyd are a shorter walk according to the maps, but having never been to either, I wanted to determine how easy they would actually be to reach.

After leaving the house around half 9 and picking up a sandwich for the trip, I started the drive towards Llyn Ogwen. On the way down the weather wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be but the view of the sea from the A55 was rather grim – brown, choppy waters. The roads were quiet but according to the road signs the A5 would be closed west of Capel Curig. Not much note was taken of the signs at the time and thus, after passing Penrhyn Quarry I reached the road closure. “DOH!”. Well… might as well check out Penrhyn while I’m here, I thought to myself. Unsurprisingly, the place was dead but I got a couple of photos of the quarry.

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A rather high Afon Ogwen
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A nice view into Penrhyn Quarry

With Ogwen potentially out of the question I decided to check out Glanrafon Slate Quarry, a quarry I’d come across looking over google maps, instead. On the way I passed alongside Llyn Cwellyn which was so full, it was almost spilling out onto the road! At this point the rain and wind had started to pick up a little bit. I parked opposite the Cwellyn Arms – with post-walk beer in mind.

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The start of the trail
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Ffestiniog railway crossing

The trail up towards the quarry started of great, really well kept and easy to follow. That all ended after crossing the Ffestiniog Railway. The route immediately turned into mud and waterlogged marshy grass. The rain was coming down hard and the wind was driving but I cracked on, quarry bound. Finally I got to the base of some of the huge piles of slate and began to climb. I also passed a small but deep hole in the ground (no, not the quarry) but didn’t see anything of interest in the bottom. It was steep walled with no way out so I didn’t want to peer too far over the edge, especially considering the wet grass and powerful gusts of wind. I wanted to get a better view into the actual quarry so I continued up towards its edge.

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A hell of a drop
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You can see most of the water from here

What a view! The quarry was huge, deep and incredibly ominous! With the rain and wind battering me, the quarry seemed even more threatening. I knew diving would be out of the question for this quarry anyway but seeing it in person really brought home the difficulties that would be involved in getting to water. I couldn’t help but fantasise a little of some grand operation to get divers into the water, involving winches, scaffolding and floating platforms – maybe even a helicopter to lift people out.

I carried on walking around the cliffs edge, being careful not to spook the sheep who’s poo I’d been avoiding along the trail – They didn’t seem to care that they were grazing a few feet from a hundred or so meter drop and I wouldn’t have been surprised if they’d just jump right off if approached. From further around I could get a better view down into the water and came across a small tunnel. It seemed to be some sort of access tunnel and I could see light on the other side (I also had a torch with me) so I had a quick look. It opened out to a small ledge with no way down and the opening to another tunnel which seemed to have completely collapsed and was gushing out water.

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Wow! This pic turned out terrible D:

I could see some more tunnels in other areas of the quarry but given the weather I didn’t want to explore too much. Maybe another time… I walked a bit higher up above the quarry but I couldn’t see any more than I already had and at this point the rain was getting extreme and I was completely soaked through. Even my “water-proof” jacket wasn’t helping much. Thank god my phone was water-proof, I’d given up on using my camera and was keeping it safe in my dry bag. It was time to find a ruined quarry building to crouch next to and have a brew.

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Remaining brick pillars
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Some old slate processing building

After continuing to walk around the piles of slate, I headed along the trail towards Afon Treweunydd which was tearing its way down the hill side. I could see a small “bridge” further down so decided to check it out before heading back to the car. The white water was coming pretty close to the bridge and I could feel the thing shaking as the water stormed underneath.

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Afon Treweunydd
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Barely a bridge

Exciting! It had just about turned 15:00 and I’d had enough adventure for one day so with the Lord of the Rings soundtrack running through my head I turned back down towards Rhyd Ddu. I’d given up trying to keep my feet dry as I walked across boggy marsh and eventually crossed the rail tacks again. Relieved to be back on a proper track I started to dream of a pint by the fireplace. One last thing would get in the way. a stream which was previously running underneath the path had spilled over and completely cover it. I let one of the locals cross first and they managed fine so I sucked it up and waded through – I had a pair of flip-flops in the car anyway, you know how tropical it can get in Wales right?

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Brave sheep

Finally, back to the car to get changed out of soggy clothes and just in time to nip into the pub for beer. I went for a pint of Clogwen gold which was okay but not really my kind of beer; a little too bitter and lacking much taste in my opinion. At least it was refreshing. Unfortunately I couldn’t get a seat next to one of the lovely roaring fires so I ended up being colder in the pub than I was on the walk.

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A well deserved pint

Time to head home and prep the dive kit for tomorrow…

~Cal

P.S. If anyone’s made it this far, thanks for reading the first nw-divesites blog post! 😀

3 thoughts on “My Own Storm”

  1. Callum
    This is a great write up

    I would love to go exploring the tunnels 🙂

    With the right kit obviously !

  2. Great effort to discover different dive sites! Looks like some good adventures to be had ! Well done 😊

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