on July 6, 2013
As there was quite a lot of low cloud, we decided that our hike would be a fairly low circular trip around the village of Beddgelert. Our route thus took us past a former copper mine opened as a tourist attraction, and as we had the whole day stretching out before us we decided to take the plunge and pay the £8 admission fee. Sygun Copper Mine is perhaps a mile out of the main village area.This part of North Wales was famous for it metal ores since Roman times, and in particular copper, lead and gold. While the rocks are rich in ores there are more productive places to mine, and copper mining ended in the region in the 1930’s.The attraction comprised of the original mine building which housed a shop selling bits of ore in stone and other tourist bits, a small coffee shop and the ticket booth. Pay your money, pick up a hard hat and it’s a short wander to the start of the attraction – a real copper mine hand dug into the mountainside. The attraction has a series of 8 or so spots to stop; you just press a button to hear a recording and look at a mannaquin in a hard hat stuck into some crevice in the mine above your head. It sounds and was a little corney but to be fair it was rather effective as the recordings told of the very hard lives and risks led by the miners. In effect they were contractors and only got paid per weight of ore, so cleaning up the mines and removing the slag was all undertaken in their own time, as was the rescue of colleagues if the shafts collapsed. One rather sad element was with the exaggerated friendliness and Welsh accent of the actor recording the voice. It sounded a little forced and contrived. I was a little surprised with the layout of the mine as I imagined it would be a very safe walk into the mine; in fact there were a series of steep metal steps going up the mine workings (another surprise, I expected to go "down" rather than up into the hillside). The climbing was actually quite strenuous and not great if you don’t like heights. The tunnels were just below my head height (I’m just a hair or two below 6 foot tall) so the hard hat was helpful as I would have banged my head a couple of times without it. For me the route made the tour that little bit "exciting" as you "self tour" and it wasn’t totally bland. We spotted one lit up bit where you could see the coppery colour of the earth, and a metallic looking rock formation in a cavern. For some bizarre reason visitors had tossed some coins into this formation "for luck". I really will never understand this little habit. I think overall we probably spent about just under an hour rootling around in the mine and finally exited halfway up the hill above the Mine head with a stunning view of the valley around. To sum up, this is a worthwhile pit stop (literally) although perhaps not for anyone with trouble climbing steep steps, not liking enclosed spaces or heights.
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