An ancient and mysterious landscape
The Gwydir Forest has been exploited for the lead it contains for hundreds of years. The remains of ancient mine shafts, spoil tips and adits (horizontal shaft entrances) litter the surrounding area. Many of these may be explored on foot. They include the Cyffty Mine, operational until 1921, where features such as waterwheel pits and the remains of a crusher house (used to process the lead ore) may be seen. Circular buddle pits (ponds) and a pump-shaft are also preserved, but sadly the beam-engine house and chimney were demolished in 1966.
At Llanrwst Mine (recently redeveloped as an outdoor-pursuits centre) many buildings survive, including an engine house, boiler house, crusher house and an impressive chimney. Perhaps the best preserved of the Gwydir mines is in the Vale of Conwy, where mid-Victorian features such as a railway, collapsed adits, a water-powered crushing mill and buddle pits remain in situ. The Vale of Conwy also boasts an impressive chimney, clearly visible from the road.
Somewhat more advanced for its age was the Hafna Lead Mine, worked since the 18th century. The site featured several mechanical and chemical processes for extracting lead from the landscape. Uniquely it included a furnace smelter, whereby steam-powered bellows forced air through the furnace, creating sufficiently high temperatures to melt the lead. The molten metal was then poured into moulds.
An Audio Trail and Itinerary have been created for this site. To download them, please see here
- Good Walks Nearby
Mines are along a minor road between B5106 near Trefriw and Ugly House on A5
Nearest station is Betws y Coed - 4 miles
Nearest bus stops in Betws y Coed
Mines are on the Marin Trail MTB route
Hafna, Vale of Conwy and Cyffty can be visited a short walk from the road. There is a Mines Trail signposted from Hafna carpark.
Full Figure Grid Reference: Hafna/Vale of Conwy Mines car park SH 781600, Cyffty Mine car park : SH 772589
OS Landranger map sheet: OS 115
Natural Resources Wales
- Trefriw, Conwy, Conwy