A Walk Round Dinorwic Quarry

I should start by saying there is no way I could walk around the full extent of the quarry. Dinorwic was the second largest slate quarry in Wales, the largest was at Bethseda, just a short distance away.

Covering over 700 acres and rising from about 100 metres in staged levels to a height of about 700 metres, Dinorwic can be a challenge if you are not physically fit. So I decided this time to stay at more or less the same level in the quarry and not climb too high. Infer from that what you will.

E-M1MarkII OLYMPUS M.12-40mm F2.8 ISO 200 1/100 sec at ƒ / 11

Fortunately if you drive to the village of Dinorwig you can start your venture into the quarry at several levels up the mountain side. Following the path up from the parking area, the first sign that you are in quarry are these two buildings that run along the side of the path.

E-M1MarkII OLYMPUS M.12-40mm F2.8 ISO 200 1/50 sec at ƒ / 11

Normally I would venture of the recognised trail to explore some of the tunnels and buildings higher up but I was accompanied on this trip by two first timers to the quarry. So it seemed prudent to stick to this level and give them a chance to see what can be achieved if you are prepared to take a chance.

E-M1MarkII OLYMPUS M.12-40mm F2.8 ISO 200 1/100 sec at ƒ / 11

Once you are off the official path, you are at risk from falling, or have rocks fall on you. As you will see in later photographs there is a lot of loose slate and stones, some small, some very large and it could move at any time.

E-M1MarkII OLYMPUS M.12-40mm F2.8 ISO 200 1/30 sec at ƒ / 11

I could never work this building out. It’s the only brick building in the quarry that I have seen. It just looks so out of place when every other building is made of slate. In the background you can see the official trail, which is fenced in, rising on the right hand side of the photograph above.

E-M1MarkII OLYMPUS M.12-40mm F2.8 ISO 200 1/50 sec at ƒ / 11

By parking where we did we managed to avoid the tough climb up from the lakeside. Dinorwic quarry workings rise to about 700 metres above sea level but the manage to do that in the space of less than a kilometre so that is a very steep incline to walk up.

E-M1MarkII OLYMPUS M.75-300mm F4.8-6.7 II ISO 320 1/250 sec at ƒ / 6.7

Which is why you will see these winding houses on each of the inclines of the quarry.

E-M1MarkII OLYMPUS M.75-300mm F4.8-6.7 II ISO 200 1/400 sec at ƒ / 6.7

The winding houses were used to move slate down from the various levels at Dinorwic

E-M1MarkII OLYMPUS M.75-300mm F4.8-6.7 II ISO 200 1/160 sec at ƒ / 11

Following the official path through the quarry you get a good view over towards Snowdon.

E-M1MarkII OLYMPUS M.12-40mm F2.8 ISO 200 1/125 sec at ƒ / 11

Well at least you could if the cloud cover wasn’t so low, as it was all day. At times I thought it would rain and at one point we were just below the cloud level.

We’ve been moving steadily along the trail. If you go back to the fourth photograph we have reached the point just before it starts to rise that you can see in the photograph. Roughly somewhere behind that red brick building.

E-M1MarkII OLYMPUS M.12-40mm F2.8 ISO 200 1/25 sec at ƒ / 11

In the photograph above you can see some razor wire. This prevents access to a lake that can be quite dangerous. There are submerged building in the small lake and the remains of trees, mainly the stumps. I have seen then when I’ve been on an upper level and the lake has evaporated. When there is no water in the lake, there is a sheer drop just at the side of the trail, so it’s understandable why there is a high fence to prevent access.

Slightly out of sequence in my tale, I forgot to show you the remains of this winding house. But it serves to illustrate what I was talking about earlier regarding rockfalls.

E-M1MarkII OLYMPUS M.75-300mm F4.8-6.7 II ISO 400 1/250 sec at ƒ / 6.7

Dinorwic isn’t only used by walkers. There are lots of climbers who visit to practice their skills on the sheer rock faces that can be found in the quarry.

E-M1MarkII OLYMPUS M.12-40mm F2.8 ISO 200 1/50 sec at ƒ / 11

Not immediately obvious, but they are there, two of them clinging to the side of the rock wall, roughly in the centre of the photograph. Just look up from the sign to almost the V of the two rock formations and you will spot them.

Here’s a close-up of one of the climbers…

E-M1MarkII OLYMPUS M.75-300mm F4.8-6.7 II ISO 200 1/250 sec at ƒ / 6.7

Almost at the end of our journey for the day. We’ve been out a good few hours and although we have not covered a great deal of distance, we’ve been on our feet for all of that time, carrying back packs with our camera gear. I’m conscious that we’ve got to walk back through the quarry to get back to the car.

Just to tempt us, sometimes the sun would appear for a short while and all day we hoped that maybe the cloud would lift enough to get a shot of Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales, but sadly it wasn’t to be.

E-M1MarkII OLYMPUS M.12-40mm F2.8 ISO 200 1/60 sec at ƒ / 11

As usual there’s always something worth photographing just around the corner. So we continue on for a bit longer.

Going back to the rockfalls. and the dangers of being in the quarry. Look at that great slab of stone on the right hand side. It’s being held by a few smaller blocks and I suppose it’s own weight. . Just below it is a large chasm and there’s evidence of previous rock falls down there.

E-M1MarkII OLYMPUS M.12-40mm F2.8 ISO 200 1/30 sec at ƒ / 11

My next two photographs show an old building that has just about collapsed. I’ve photographed it before, but in bright sunlight and a clear blue sky. Today it’s so much more atmospheric with the clouds and patches of sunlight on the mountains behind.

E-M1MarkII OLYMPUS M.12-40mm F2.8 ISO 200 1/80 sec at ƒ / 11

From another angle and much closer the sun is starting to break through, there’s even a bit of blue sky.

E-M1MarkII OLYMPUS M.12-40mm F2.8 ISO 200 1/100 sec at ƒ / 11

Time to head back but just as a final grab shot I caught a patch of sun on the mountain side.

E-M1MarkII OLYMPUS M.12-40mm F2.8 ISO 200 1/250 sec at ƒ / 11

That’s it. I hope you enjoyed the walk through the quarry with me.

Stay safe, wherever you are – Mike

8 thoughts on “A Walk Round Dinorwic Quarry

  1. Beautiful, brooding, and foreboding. To me if seems like a place from another world. If there is no longer any quarrying in Wales, then where is the commercial source for slate? I know that slate is used here in the states and I am ashamed to say that I have no idea if it is quarried in the US or not. I love slate but it is very expensive.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There are still small quarries operating in Wales, Yvonne, but the demand for slate, mainly as a roofing material has declined dramatically. This was one of the reasons Dinorwic finally closed.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. A fabulous set of photos. I can empathise with the falling rocks as we get that around here all the time. On our recent hike around the Saas valley, we were clambering over huge boulders. (Posts to come when I get half a chance…)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. More or less, Arv. The decline in use of slate, the difficulty in quarrying it, commercial viability and health & safety all served in the demise of the quarry as a working entity


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