nomadic life guide

Inside the mines and mountains of Wales

Things that may come to mind when thinking about the history of Wales: castles, women in black hats and white pinny’s, the small matter of the Welsh red dragon destroying the English white dragon and mining. I would really like to make this article about how “my dragons harder than your dragon” but I am afraid its about mining. So join us as we go inside the mines and mountains of Wales, walking in the footsteps of my ancestors and discovering the terrible conditions the men and boys toiled in.

Sygun Copper mine - Inside mines and mountains of Wales - nomadic life guide

Sygun Copper mine

Sygun Copper mine Beddgelert, Snowdonia

The Sygun mine, where generations of Welshmen spent most of there short lives. This mine was abandoned in 1903. The tour tells the tale of the Victorian miners, and shows you the veins of copper mottled with silver and gold sparkling in the dim light. Walk through the winding tunnels and discover magnificent stalactite and stalagmite formations. Above ground there are many interesting activities to try your hand at, including panning for gold and metal detecting. There is also a adventure playground, gift shop and refreshments.

nomadiclifeguide rating 7/10

Llechwedd slate caverns Blaenau Ffestiniog, Snowdonia

Slate was first used in Britain by the Romans and Wales is the nation that ‘roofed the world.’ Llechwedd is a brilliant place to learn about the industry that put bread on the tables of millions of working folk and made a huge impact on the views down many a green valley. You will descend on Britain’s steepest cable railway into the belly of the mountain, time will be turned back 160 years as you experience the sights and sounds that would be familiar to the miners. Demonstrations are available in the workshops by skilled craftsmen who have long ties to the mine.

nomadiclifeguide rating 7/10

Dolaucothi Gold Mines Llanwrda, Carmarthenshire

Owned by the National trust, Dolaucothi mine is a must if you are in the area. The Romans were the first to exploit the gold seams in these mountains nearly 1800 years ago and it is the only confirmed Roman gold mine in Britain. The mine was again in use in the 1920’s and 30’s and the above ground buildings date to this period. Two different tours are available, one exploring the Roman period of the mine and the other the most recent workings.

nomadiclifeguide rating 8/10

Dolaucothi Gold Mines - Inside mines and mountains of Wales - nomadic life guide

Dolaucothi Gold Mines

Great orme copper mine Llandudno

One of the most remarkable discoveries Wales has had in recent history, the Great orme mine dates back to the bronze age. Over the past few decades archaeologists have been meticulously unblocking tunnels and excavating caverns revealing the tools and methods used by these ancient miners. The tour starts by exploring the great opencast, the oldest part of the workings, before descending deep underground into the narrow passageways. On occasion demonstrations are on in the smelting hut and the gift shop sells a nice variety of fossils. (some of which we provide!)

nomadiclifeguide rating 8/10

Electric Mountain Llanberis, Snowdonia

Dinorwig power-station sits at the heart of Elidir mountain. In one of Europe’s largest man-made caverns a pumped storage generator helps the national grid cope at peak times. A bus takes you into the mountain where you can see the turbine room, featured in many films including James Bond. Your guide will give you a understanding of how the whole site works and answer any questions you may have.

nomadiclifeguide rating 6/10

Big pit national coal museum - Inside mines and mountains of Wales - nomadic life guide

Big pit national coal museum

Big pit national coal museum Blaenavon

Situated in the centre of the Blaenavon landscape world heritage site, you can go into the site and take the underground tour for free! In our opinion it is the best underground attraction in the UK. First, you kit up with helmets and headlamps before descending in the original miners cage. Your tour guide will be a miner who actually worked there, and will give you the full tour from stables to coal face, telling you fascinating facts along the way and answering questions.

nomadiclife rating 10/10 – A genuine must do.

Chwarel Hen Llanfair Slate Cavern Harlech

You enter Chwarel hen through the twin arches of ‘the crypt’ and enter the lofty cathedral cavern. The slate here is amongst the oldest in the world and many industrial towns in Britain and Ireland are roofed with Llanfair slate. After the tour, you emerge back into the light, greeted by a view that must be the best of any mine in Britain. There is also a children’s farm park and a gift shop.

nomadiclife rating 7/10

Chwarel Hen Llanfair Slate Caverns - Inside mines and mountains of Wales - nomadic life guide

Chwarel Hen Llanfair Slate Caverns