Day 125 Mile 125: Slate Quarry Run. This morning the sun is shining and I was awake early so I took the opportunity to return to somewhere I have not been in years. The Dinorwig Slate Quarry is a truly awe inspiring place set in the Llanberis Pass pretty much directly opposite Mount Snowdon. The quarry has been out of use since 1969 and stands as an amazing testament to what manpower and money can do to a landscape. I always have mixed feelings about this place it is undoubtedly a terrible scar on the landscape and represents centuries of greed and exploitation, not only of natural resources but also of the workers who often had little choice but to follow this insanely dangerous profession. However one cannot help but also be astounded by the savage beauty of the landscape it has created and recognise the toil that the quarrymen put in into essentially carving away an entire mountain.
At its peak in the late 19th century, it was producing over 100,000 tons of slate a year Dinorwic employed more than 3,000 men and was the second largest opencast slate producer in the country. Although by 1930 its working employment had dropped to 2,000, it continued in production until 1969 by which time only 350 men remained to be made redundant.
As I drove up I suddenly remembered that the quarry is on the north side of the pass and therefore in the shade of Elidir Fawr and the other peaks. The wind is also strong today with reported gusts of around 30 mph at the sea level weather station, however 1000 ft. higher in the quarries as it wraps around the sides of the mountains it is enough to almost knock you off your feet. This combines to make for a run cold enough to chill the fingers while being able to look down the valley out to the sea on a beautiful early summer day!
I had intended to run ½ mile into the quarry, turn around and come back, but got so distracted by the views and taking photos I decided to abandon this a jogged/walked at least a mile through the workings and then ran back.
It was a great run, not fast due to the rock and shale underfoot and the constant potential for turning an ankle but it was none the less an amazing experience. In spite of the obvious decline and decay the place was alive with sound. The wind rattled around the tumbled down buildings and made the wire fences hum and sing. Up to the right there would be the occasional ceramic clatter as shards of loose rock teetered over in the wind and landed upon yet more rock to echo of the slab walls of the opposing faces. As the path gradual began to emerge from the workings the sound of pigeons and blackbirds could also be heard in the trees which cling on to the side of the mountain stabilising the massive waste piles. Finally emerging out of the woodland onto the loop of road which marks the end of the village I was treated to the view of one of the ravens which nest annually in one of the nearby crags. All in all a wonderful experience.
It still slightly saddens me to be running around and enjoying a place, forged at such a terrible cost the scars of which are still visible in the landscape and population today. However I also feel that this cannot be changed and as always with history, an awareness of it is important but then how one chooses to act upon that and shape the future is also as vital.
I’m running a mile each day everyday for 2017. If you feel you can sponsor me please do, as all the money raised will go to the Cleft Lip & Palate Association (CLAPA) who provide services all across the UK to support people affected by it.
Distance: 1712.0 meters recorded
(1 mile = 1609.34 m.)
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Thanks as ever for all the support!
Today’s earworm is not the most accessible track but for me compeletely sums up the feel of the granular inclines of the slate shale at sets, enjoy!