A short while ago I spent a lovely morning exploring the mines in the hills above Machynlleth. People tend to look at where I live and think it's wild and untouched, but even up in the high hills man has had an impact.
Mining has happened in Dylife since Roman times, and only stopped in the early 1900's. It's a really exposed site, right up in the hills, but the lead seams were very rich. I grew up in the Peak District, and am used to the lead mines there, which have now been so visited by people going through the spoil heaps that you don't really find anything interesting.
That's definitely not an issue here!
Nearly every rock you pick up is heavy with lead, and if you break them open they shine with lead ore.
As well as lead there are lots of other interesting bits of geology, so many inclusions of quartz, and lots of fools gold.
The site was nearly completely abandoned and stripped. Even the dwellings are no longer there, The Star Inn pub remains, and two chapels have been converted to houses. The church was dismantled, only the headstones remain.
Most of the evidence of mining has gone as well. It was home to one of the largest waterwheels in the UK (Rhod Goch), which was 63 feet (20m) in diameter. Some evidence says that when the mine closed it was dismantled and shipped over to Canada. If you walk up the valley, following the stream you do find this...
It's a giant pumping mechanism to remove the water from the mine. Lower down the valley there's more water management.
A pipe to carry water, but it's made from a hollowed out log rather than planks. In winter during times of heavy rain this whole area ends up being flooded, so you can see why they needed to focus on water drainage.
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