Wednesday, 10 April 2013

From the Rock ... of Blaenau Ffestiniog

The streets of Blaenau are paved with slate, at least slate bands of poetry. There’s the River of Slate, a pavement mosaic with a river running through and on either bank the names of the 350 slate mines of Wales, each engraved on a block of slate the colour of that quarry. And then there are the massive slate sculptures, the 7.5 metre tall chisels, each made up of 15,000 stacked slates. They’re at a 30° angle, the lie of the Blaenau seams of slate. There is more to this town than meets the eye and recent developments cause people to stop in their tracks and wonder why?

The town is home to many relics of its industrial past and Falcon Hildred’s recent illustrated book is a great way of seeing what’s on offer. Another great way of discovery is to join the Snowdonia Society’s guided walk on Saturday 4th May led by Kevin Hall.  

The morning walk begins at 10:30 and is described as easy, about 1.5 miles mostly on pavements, to see the architecture and culture of the town, including the new O’r Graig ('From the Rock') structures and inscriptions. There will be a break for lunch, either a picnic or at a cafĂ© or pub in town. In the afternoon at about 13:00 there will be a moderately strenuous walk to Pant yr Ynn, the mill where Falcon Hildred will show us his fascinating building with his collection of paintings and artefacts. If enough water is flowing the millwheel will be turning.

Later that afternoon there will be a walk of about 4 miles on more difficult terrain with some steep ground and rough terrain returning to the centre of town (by about 16:30) along footpaths via Cwm Bowydd.

The walk is open to anyone with a suggested minimum donation of £3 for members of the Snowdonia Society and £5 for non-members. Please bring a drink, a raincoat and wear appropriate clothing & sturdy footwear. All children should be accompanied by an adult.

If you would like to book onto the event please contact

For those who can't make a 10:30 start there will be an alternative shorter walk led by Huw Jenkins starting at 1pm. The meeting point is underneath the canopy next to the 4 giant chisel-shaped sculptures. No need to book and donations to the Snowdonia Society will be welcome. There will be lots going on in Blaenau this weekend which is the celebration of 150 years of steam.