Disclosure: We were invited to stay at Slate Mountain and go on the Slate Mountain Adventure Tour free of charge. All thoughts and opinions are our own and 100% honest.
Life has changed a lot in the last 30 or 40 years and we are ever more conscious of how we decide what we do and how we spend our spare time effectively.
I am sure like me you are by now possessed by choosing great things to do, which enrich your life and leave you feeling genuinely satisfied with your experience. This is of course even more important when paying to spend that time. I guess it comes to the heart of why we write this blog and why we hope you might share in our successes and avoid our failures.
It is therefore an absolute pleasure to write about an experience which was a complete success and where every moment exceeded what I was expecting. I am talking of the Slate Mountain Adventure Tour which we experienced as part of our glamping stay at Slate Mountain.
The tour was run in two parts, first an overland experience in a giant opencast slate mine on the side of the mountains north of Blaenau-Ffestiniog followed by part 2, a visit to the slate mine 500ft underground.
Part 1 – Quarry Explorer – Above Land
Thankfully the April weather was kind, warm sunshine and no rain so our tour of the slate quarry was jaw-droppingly beautiful. The slate mine above ground is truly massive and very far beyond what you can see, even from our glamping tent which was situated on one side of the quarry. So, the four of us and the other visitors (about 16-18 in total) were ferried around the place by an open sided military truck. An absolute beast of a vehicle. We were resident on this truck for the majority of the quarry tour although we did stop regularly so we could take pictures. I will not try to describe at too greater length what we saw, the pictures will do that, but what I can guarantee is stunning views, precipitous edges, bumpy tracks and some very very steep inclines and declines which this truck navigates with ease.
The tour is not simply a drive around a mine the driver, Elwyn who not only drove us around the quarry he also stopped, got out the truck and imparted his extensive knowledge throughout the 1.5 hr drive. He was extremely engaging in style and really encouraged us to participate and enquire about what had been a place of serious industry and central to the growth of Wales past mining economy.
Our tour had an added extra level of interest as the night before there had been a fire on the hill on the opposite side of the quarry. Thankfully far away from our tent and all but extinguished by the time of our tour but, it did mean the odd fire engine competed with us for some of the roads we were on… eeek! What we saw was the aftermath a scorched burnt landscape which was still smoking.
This was reported on national news. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-48034343
With our excellent tour safely over we then had a short break and made our way to The Deep Mine for Part 2.
Part 2 – The Deep Mine – Underground
Health Warning: Before I start. Make sure you go to the loo before you go down into the mine. It is a constant 10oC in the mine and although it would be easy to go your party might not be that pleased with you.
Before I get into any detail Part 2 is as good or even better than Part 1. You go down 500ft in a little yellow cable train which is tight and confined – although surprisingly much more than you’ll find the mine itself. The mine is a series of chambers of similar size (if you go you’ll find out why ;o)) and similarly to above ground you are led, this time on foot, by your guide who continues to provide interesting and really meaningful commentary. However, this time your guide is supported by an underground cast of miners holograms and light shows. They are tremendous. This provides a much more personal insight into what life in the mine was really like and it brings home how tough it was working in the mines. It also reveals the real sense of community and family shared between men who worked for much of their lives in near perpetual darkness.
It is not only the technology which makes this experience superb this is further added to by interactive things to do and see once you are down there. I will not spoil this for you.
Don’t worry not dangerous or scary.
This wonderful experience ends in cavern with a large under water / pond with an incredible show, which I have to be honest actually jerked a few tears. We found the whole experience a bombardment on the senses and with the holograms and Elwyn bringing it to life, it is in my opinion one of the very best guided tours you will ever attend.
If you are in North Wales for a holiday within 40-50 miles of Blaenau-Ffestiniog set a morning or afternoon aside for this experience, you will not be sorry. The Slate Mountain Adventure Tour lasts for 3 hours and 30 minutes and prices start at £20.00 per person.
PS: I don’t usually like tours or history. Do it. Do it. Do it!