Our first building can be found on the Miners Track as you head towards the summit of Snowdon. At the side of Llyn Teyrn stands this now abandoned stone structure which was the barracks for the men who worked on the Britannia Copper Mine further up the valley. The mine closed in 1916 but the ruined barracks and mill buildings still exist.
Nearly all of the abandoned buildings I have found on my travels no longer have a roof. The walls, made of local stone, will survive the extreme weather conditions, but the wooden supports for the roof will not. Even the walls cannot survive for ever. Often the stone is re-used by local farmers to repair the dry stone walls that are a feature of the hills and valleys in Snowdonia.
The houses are not big. One, maybe two rooms, at most. What where they used for? In the case of the ones near mines and quarries I think it’s pretty obvious. But the houses that you find high on a hill and totally isolated I’m not so sure about. But I have a theory. Wales is a sheep farming country, and the sheep were allowed to roam the hills. I reckon many of the isolated houses were used by shepherds. Does that sound logical?
Of course not all of the abandoned building were used as dwellings. I found this old building at the site of the Dinorwic Quarry. There’s nothing unusual about it. Three walls and a roof made of slate, which you would expect in a slate quarry. As to its function, who knows? A shelter, maybe?
Not all abandoned dwellings are one-roomed, low structure buildings I’d like to leave you with this final image of the entrance gates to Gwrych Castle which is a Grade I listed 19th-century country house quite close to me.
The castle was erected between 1819 and 1825 and until 1924 it was the residence of the Dundonald family. After WW2 the castle was open to the public, attracting many visitors through the 1950’s and 60’s. The 1970’s saw it being used as a centre for medieval re-enactments, attracting tourists with such events as jousting and mock banquets. But the decline of Gwrych Castle was already starting and finally it closed it doors to the public in 1985.
An American businessman bought the castle in 1989 but his plans to renovate the building were not carried out. As a result the castle was looted and vandalised to become little more than a derelict shell.