Pontneddfechan Gunpowder Works 2008
Gunpowder, trees and then plop. Heritage by the waterfall walks.
The gunpowder works at Pontneddfechan date from between 1820 and 1931, and were a major industry for the area. They are situated in an area with what were good transport links, and natural resources, while also being far enough from everything so any major accidents would not be too costly for any neighbouring towns. The gunpowder produced here was primarily used for removal of rock in quarries and mines throughout Wales.
- Walking up the Mellte from Pontneddfechan, several houses and plenty of path later, where on Earth are these gunpowder works? Then when crossing a bridge (for no reason, since everything is on the left bank) we noticed the first old building - a house with a clifftop view - hidden under the undergrowth by the path.
- One careful owner.
- Concrete? Well, perhaps, but somehow, I doubt that bag is authentic.
- A little further on, there are some remnants hidden by undergrowth. It does get better, I promise.
- The first of the three-walled buildings, used to make the gunpowder.
- The second bridge signifies the start of the main works. Here, the split river was channelled through two sluices, presumably used to drive the water wheels, which powered the works. The best part of this view has to be the aerated water produced by the small cascade on the left.
- Low sunlight catching the hills.
- The edge of the sunlight catching the pines.
- The only intact roof in the main works, on one of the three-walled buildings.
- A low wall at the start of the main buildings, separated from some of the others by a large bank of earth, used to absorb the shock of any accidental explosions.
- Edge of the main buildings.
- Crushed window and sunlight.
- Main buildings.
- The buildings each had three solid walls. The remaining wall and roof were built of lighter materials such as wood, to ensure that the blast from any accidental explosions would be directed through the soft walls, away from adjacent buildings. They also made workers wear non-sparking sandals and use tools which could not spark, and even shoed their horses with copper shoes.
- House remains.
- Mossy roots of a pine tree.
- A large ruin.
- A smaller ruin.
- The aquaduct passing behind the buildings, used to drive the water wheels. Presumably, there used to be a nice bridge carrying the aquaduct over the river here.
- The path becomes a little less formal, and reaches the large and noisy weir that supplied the aquaduct. This signifies the end of the gunpowder works site.
- Sunlight playing in the Cilhepste forest (name is assumed, since everything else in the area is called Cilhepste-something), which was used as a source of wood for the charcoal production, a major component of the gunpowder.
- Mossy highlights and shadows.
- A little further upstream are a couple of cascades, above ...
- ... A small waterfall, which marks the end of the path. The sunlight was doing a good job of lighting up the cliff-lined cove around the waterfall, which created a really nice effect. Sadly the waterfall is quite unpleasant to reach from the path, with the mossy ground giving way to slippery mud with every step. Best viewed from the path, as a result.
- Shadow on the Cilhepste forest in the Mellte valley.
- Coed y Ffyrnau, in the nearby Sychryd Gorge. The name means "Forest of the Furnaces", implying that these forests were also used for charcoal.
On the way back from the Sychryd Gorge, we bumped into a group of ~20 Chinese (I think) visitors, who were starting their walk to Sgwd yr Eira and back. 3 km away. 1 hour before dark. Reminded me of Tatry, except that once I explained to them that 6 km in 1 hour does not compute in this landscape, they had the sense and gratitude to accept it, and visit the much closer Sychryd waterfall instead.