Hello, my name is Mal Tabb.
Thanks for visiting our web pages. Marion & I operate a small outdoor activity organisation called Canoes, Mountains & Caves. We provide activities for: adults, young people, schools, charities, families & individuals. A key aspect of our work is the provision of a "Community Programme" which is offered free of charge to participants. If you think we might be able to help please don't hesitate to contact us, you can find out more about what we do on our main website www.canoesmountainscaves.com

Saturday, 9 November 2013


We've been spending quite a bit of time this year developing activity options in the North Wales area. Last week saw a three day visit with Alan Rainford & Clare Mackey to familiarise ourselves with the vast Cwmorthin Slate Mine near Tanygrisiau.

Day one started at the Lakeside Cafe with a meet up with our good friend Dave Baines for an initial guided look through the mine, it was a massive help to wander around with Dave. The ground we covered would have taken days to sort out by ourselves. Entering the mine at lake level we headed off down the incline plane to begin the vertical descent through the system.

An initial traverse on the right followed by crossing over the incline plane leads to the head of the first pitch - a straightforward abseil that we rigged for pull through. The pitch lands at the foot of the "stairway to heaven"

From here its possible to re-access the incline plane or, as a better alternative, head through to the catwalk traverses & use the excellent infra-structure provided by "Go Below" to box around the huge void to gain a second abseil.

Once again we rigged the pitch for abseil and descended another floor heading for the bridge & back out on to the incline plane.

Descending the incline plane another level allows access to the final pitch, which is on the right hand side and is the biggest of the three at a full 20m,

A further pull-through abseil saw us land once again able to access further excellent infra-structure in the form of the "pipes" a nice walk way with chains for the hands which allows a section of deeper water to be crossed dry-shod. Thanks again to "Go Below"

This is D/E floor where a compressed air line, on the ground now, can be followed via two side-steps to the left before ascending towards to the ceiling. At this point a slight step to the right and short ascent allows "Level French" to be gained.

We followed Level French to a sharp right hand bend before working our way right again to vast chambers and the head of the zig zag steps which were descended to G Floor & Graf Spee House. A little "ratching" around G floor was followed by a return to the house & exit via the back of the chamber & ultimately the ascent of an incline plane back on to D/E floor & a walk along past the water wheel; compressor house and then the boundary with Oakley Mine. We then back-tracked until the passage just after the compressor to emerge in a chamber above Graf Spee House from where we headed back to the foot of the incline plane. It was a hard slog back up - especially carrying a good 100m of rope & tackle so we headed off at the up turned cart to locate the "Stairway to Heaven" in order to complete our ascent back to Lake Level.

There's a lady who's sure all that glitters is gold
And she's buying a stairway to heaven.
When she gets there she knows, if the stores are all closed
With a word she can get what she came for.
Ooh, ooh, and she's buying a stairway to heaven.
We returned to the mine on Thursday and repeated the "rope free" section of the above trip & also explored the area of the Old Vein incline plane & then again on Friday to repeat the vertical trip above.
All in all a very productive 3 days in the biggest mine system I have visited and undoubtedly the best vertical mine exploration I have experienced.  Big thanks to Dave Baines for all his help.

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