Access, Conservation and Safety
The mines described on these pages are on private land. Consequently, there is no specific right of access to them. However, in many places public rights of way approach or cross the mine sites and/or the Access Land provisions of the CROW Act may apply, so access for the normal recreational purpose of looking at surface remains is not generally a problem.
Access to underground workings is not covered by CROW Act and the land owners’ and/or mineral rights holders’ permission should be sought in all cases. Some of the underground workings may contain bat roosts or be hibernation sites and persons visiting such sites should be aware of the provisions of the The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 with regard to the disturbance of bats.
The description of a mine in these pages should not be taken as permission, or even encouragement, to visit it.
The mine sites are slowly degrading due to natural processes such as rain, erosion, soil movement, animal burrows etc. These cause a general softening of features such as excavations and tips and can cause building collapse. In addition, growth of woodland and undergrowth has obscured the features of some sites.
A few of the mines are subject to vandalism or dumping. In general, vandalism is confined to building remains. Considering that most of the buildings probably had their roof materials removed for reuse shortly after mining ceased, subsequent vandalism appears to have had little impact. Dumping is possibly a more serious problem. The underground workings provide convenient disposal sites for agricultural rubbish and dead animals, Coed mine in particular has had a significant quantity cattle remains dumped in one of its entrances. Domestic fly-tipping has occurred at Lletty Walter.
A further process affecting the remains is the reuse of waste tips. This is occurring at Coed where some of the tips are being excavated, possibly for ballast.
Few portable artefacts remain at the mine sites. However, every artefact taken away, or damage done to on-site remains, makes the task of interpretation more difficult for the next visitor. Please leave the remains as you find them.
Although the manganese mining landscape of the Harlech Dome is probably unique, no one mine site can easily be singled out as being of special merit or requiring particular conservation or protection measures.
In general, the surface works of the mines present no more risk than that normally attending walking in the hills. However, it should be remembered that the mine owner’s aim was to extract ore at the least possible cost. No consideration was given to the long term stability of workings and individuals were generally expected to look after their own safety. Consequently, the safety and stability of tips, disused buildings, civil engineering works such as retaining walls, and particularly all underground workings must not be taken for granted.
Experienced visitors to old mines will be aware of these dangers. However, if you are new to this activity you should make your first visits in the company of experienced people. (The mining societies mentioned on the Links to related information page should be able to put you in touch with such people.)
Manganese in excess is toxic and levels of manganese dusts and fumes in atmosphere should not exceed 5 mg/m3 for even short periods [Levy et al 1992]. It is thought unlikely that exploring the disused mines would expose the visitor to such levels, but this hazard should be considered if operations such as underground digging or reworking of tips are envisaged.