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EXPLORING SNOWDONIA'S SLATE HERITAGE - 26 GREAT WALKS

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Kittiwake Slate Heritage Walks in Snowdonia 

26 walks/60 pages

The walks in this guide visit some of Snowdonia's most dramatic slate mining areas. These are situated in wonderful mountain and valley scenery and delve into their histories. All these walks reveal the dramatic landscape the quarries and mines were set. Because it took around 10 tons of waste to produce just one ton of usable slate huge spoil heaps developed that completely altered the landscape, not only around the villages but in the mountains too. One has only to look at the enormous piles of slate around Blaenau Ffestiniog to appreciate that everything seen on the surface has been brought out from deep down in a mine, all by human endeavour and extremely hard graft. The quarries associated with Llanberis were at one time one of the largest in the world and dramatically scarred the slopes of Elidir Fawr. 

The main quarrying and mining took place from the end of the 18th century right up until the early 20th century with a few isolated quarries operating to the end of the 1960s. The communities of Gwynedd'Ogwen, Peris, Nantlle, Blaenau Ffestiniog and Corris were dynamic and thriving, having between them some 60 quarries and mines that employed over 18,000 people. Paths that were created between villages, hamlets and small towns linked together chapels, schools and the quarries themselves. Many of these paths are still in use today whilst some have disappeared altogether. The miners often lived at the mine during the week only returning home on the Saturday afternoon after working their shift. They came back to work very early on Monday morning. Slate is still quarried today but only in small quantities, mainly in the Blaenau Ffestiniog area.

A number of walks venture into the mountains but only one actually reaches a summit. You will be amazed at the amount of struggle that went in to produce usable material. Think about the sweat and toil involved in extracting the slate and how people lived all those years ago. A trip on any one of the small railways is highly recommended, especially the amazing Ffestiniog, and Welsh Highland, Railways (see the relevant Kittiwake Guides). A visit to one of the show mines is an excellent way to learn about the lives of the quarry workers and their families all those years ago. All that remains is for you to enjoy these walks and have fun.

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