Precious copper in the hills above Beddgelert
Since the dawn of recorded history, north Wales has been recognised and valued as an abundant source of copper. The area around Beddgelert has been exploited for this resource since at least the 18th century, and possibly as long ago as the Roman occupation.
At Sygun Mine visitors may take a tour through eerily beautiful, glowing orange caverns. These tunnels, deep below ground and rich in stalagmite and stalactite formations, were last worked commercially in 1903. It is easy to forget, surrounded by such beauty, the harsh reality of mining life, but it was dangerous, dark and dirty, not to mention back-breaking. Look out for the half-size replica of the stamp battery. This key piece of technology crushed the mined rock to extract the precious copper ore.
At Cwm Bychan (near Beddgelert) the operation was on a much smaller scale. Still visible are many pylons, which dot the hillside. These originally supported an aerial cableway used to transport ore in buckets to a processing plant near Nantmor. Though somewhat neglected, much of the cableway remains in situ, minus the cable which lies on the ground. Lying along several popular walking routes, Cwm Bychan is the perfect place to stop for a picnic and explore Gwynedd’s industrial heritage at leisure.