What Is Dorothea Quarry?
Slate has been a popular building material for a very long time. As a result, the slate industry is known to have existed in what is now Wales as far back as Roman times. It still exists to some extent in the present. However, the slate industry is a shadow of what it once was. Still, interested individuals can find reminders throughout Wales, with an excellent example being the Dorothea Quarry in the Nantlle Valley.
In short, the Nantlle Valley was an important hub of the slate industry in the 19th and 20th centuries. Due to this, there are a number of disused slate quarries in the region. Dorothea Quarry was the largest of those, as shown by how it employed a few hundred men who produced 17,442 tons of finished slate at its production peak in 1872. Unfortunately, a number of factors have brought the slate industry low, with the result that Dorothea Quarry has been closed since 1970.
As for the location’s name, well, that was a choice made by one of the managers. The site started being worked in the early 1820s. Around 1829, it had been leased by a man named William Turner, who decided to name the workings Cloddfa Turner. His son was the one who apparently renamed the workings Dorothea Quarry in honor of the actual landowner Richard Garnons’s wife.
Why Do People Visit Dorothea Quarry Nowadays?
There are a couple of reasons who people still visit Dorothea Quarry in the present. One, its location is very interesting. In part, this is because the slate veins in the Nantlle Valley are vertical rather than horizontal, with the result that the workers dug very deep pits to get at the stone. Since the pits are below the water table, they couldn’t stay dry without a machine pumping out the water on a regular basis. Now that the work has stopped, the pits have become flooded. However, it should also be mentioned that the abandoned village of Talysarn at Dorothea Quarry has been reclaimed by nature to a considerable extent. As a result, there are now trees growing into the building walls, which is a very dramatic image that can make people feel as though they were visiting a Welsh version of Angkor Wat. The experience is enhanced when people walk about the ruins. Something that more than one individual has compared to being on the set of an adventure movie situated in a far-off land.
The other reason is some people have decided that the pits make a great place for scuba diving. Officially, this is not allowed. However, enforcement is next-to-nonexistent, meaning that people go scuba diving in the unregulated pits anyways. As a result, 21 divers lost their lives during the decade from 1994 to 2004, with the result that the pits have picked up a rather grim reputation in certain quarters.
How to get there:
- Follow the A487 to Penygroes. At Penygroes, follow signs towards Nantlle, along the B4418
You will leave Penygroes along a minor road towards Nantlle, which in about a mile passes the Leisure Centre then the vinyard. As you come into the next village, Talysarn, at the sharp right-hand bend, take a left run into the houses. In 100 yards turn right into Bryncelyn Road, which eventually becomes Nantlle Road. It’s marked as a “no through road” and has postcode LL54 6AE.
Carry on along the no-through road past the houses, to where it terminates at a roundabout. You can park here.
- Parking is free by the roundabout at the end of Nantlle Road.