Rosa level : Pughs Mine

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NAMHO 2019: Rosa level : Pugh's Mine
Last Updated: 02/05/2019



Cwmystwyth Rosa Level.

Rosa Level, at Cwmystwyth, is high up on the hill above the Mill building and gives access to the top of large stopes above Mitchell’s level and Pugh’s mine and has been used for many years to give rewarding SRT trips deep into the mine system.

The original draft of this account was written by Paul Thorne in 2002, after a visit by Paul, Steve Holding and John Hine (Mole – Royal Forest of Dean Caving Club). Access to Cwmystwyth was withdrawn by the Crown Agents not long after this trip and there was no formal access until Roy Fellows formed Cambrian Mines Trust, in 2013, and purchased the mine – restoring access to mine explorers. Paul’s account has now been amended to reflect observations and changes from two recent trips by members of SCMC. The first trip in March 2014 consisted of Ian Davies, Steve Holding, Andy Kennelly with Alan and Vicky Robinson – there had been comments about a fallen boulder blocking the route and the initial trip was to check this, only taking limited rope – this trip only went to the top of the 4th pitch. The second trip consisted of Stuart Cowper, Steve Holding, Alan and Vicky Robinson, Idris Williams and Andy Wood.

Belay Points:
For the trip in 2002, the belay points were all ‘spits’ and hangers, some of dubious reliability. More recently, Roy Fellows placed some modern bolts near the top of the route and a further ten modern bolts were added during the two SCMC trips. The following account only makes reference to the bolts and splits used for these later trips.

Location of Rosa Level: Behind the base of the concentrating mill, climb up to the highest obvious tramway on the hillside. Follow it leftwards (west). Where it peters out, climb up 10m and traverse left a further 30m. The entrance is in a cleft, barely visible from the road, and perhaps 130m above it.

Description: An impressive series of descents entirely through stoping, and partially on rock-covered heavy timber false floors. At times it is necessary to keep closely to the footwall and tread carefully. In several locations a rock dropped down will rattle on for a considerable time.

On Rosa Level, go in perhaps 50m, to a blind heading. To the right is a stope hole, which we have not yet descended. New bolts have been placed by Roy Fellows.

The way on is on the left to the head of first drop. There are two original ‘spits’ with hangers at top and RF has added a modern bolt. There had originally been a drop of about 5m but rocks have fallen from above making this now an unstable slope care is required - SRT or free climb with handline. This continues as a steep slope, (handline useful) leading to the top of the 2nd pitch. A 20m rope was used for the 1st pitch/slope. There are now two modern bolts, placed by Roy, and a third modern bolt to use for a deviation. This 2nd pitch is a drop of about 8m into small chamber.

The way on down is the obvious slope/gully, past a rusty acrow prop to top of ‘big’ 3rd and 4th pitches. There is a single modern bolt that can be backed-up to the acrow prop. The 3rd pitch originally descended approx 20m but has now been split into two shorter pitches (3A and 3B). Approx 10m down from the top of 3rd pitch (3A) it is easy to swing into a level – this can be followed to an alternative descent (yet to be investigated). Two modern bolts have been placed to start pitch 3B. At the bottom of the next, 10m, drop is an alcove with ‘rock solid floor’ (on timbers). Use the modern bolt in wall above the small obvious hole as rebelay for way down, 4th pitch (the acrow in the alcove was not used but there is room for someone to stand and help communicate down). The slight rub on large timber and rock at top can be avoided if descent/ascent route is carefully selected. This pitch looks impressive looking down the hole, but is straightforward and lands on Mitchell’s level. The 4th pitch is felt to be longer than the 12m originally suggested by Paul – a 55m rope is sufficient to run from the acrow back-up at the top of the 3rd pitch to Mitchell’s level.

Facing the footwall, left leads (out bye?) along Mitchell’s level, not tried – a traverse line would be needed to cross the collapsed false floor. To the right, follow Mitchell’s level (keep to footwall) to a chamber, dripping with water, where the vein is seen to split into two stopes.

The next pitch (5th) head is on a horse of ground left between the two stopes. Belay from two modern bolts, backed-up to another modern bolt and then descend right-hand stope (facing the wall). There is a bad rub point about 3m down that needs a rope protection (or new bolt). Descend approx 17m to obvious large floor pillar. Do not descend very deep hole to the left (facing the wall), which leads to a neat rectangular hole through a collapsing false floor. Instead, rebelay to the obvious, rope-incised, sound stemple to descend the 6th pitch, really a 5m rope assisted free climb. A 50m rope was needed to cover the 5th and 6th pitches. Beyond here is soon reached the 7th pitch. Two original spits with hangers appear good and can be used as back-up to two modern bolts added that nearly eliminate a rub point. This pitch length gives approx. 18m total descent and lands in what might be one of the Gill’s levels.

Beyond here walk along past tall, (8m?) wooden ladder leading up (not climbed). This has a lifeline in situ, but it is clearly old and is believed to be fixed to a single spit and hanger at the top. The ladder is not 100% good!

Some distance past the ladder leading up, is an area of significant hydrozincite and false floor with a descending ladderway. This ladder is unsafe, but there are two good iron hook belays at top for a rope descent, 4m. This lands on platform/rock ledge and a spit/hanger in place here, in 2002, allowed a 10m descent into ochreous deep flooded stope (no floor, deep water). No level at this horizon, but this could be on Pugh’s level horizon (below road), which issues similar ochreous water. The old ladder disappears into the water.

For the March 2014 trip, the wooden ladder leading up was not ascended and the final ladders were not descended. For the route followed, there are now 13 modern bolts (3 placed by RF) – a hanger was only left on the top of the 4th Pitch – although nuts are generally in place, a couple were lost on de-rigging and spare nuts and hangers should be carried. The 5th pitch is the only one really needing improvement – a rope protector was used for the March 2014 trip and there is no obvious deviation approach – a rebelay at the lip needs consideration – if depending on a rope protector, this needs to be long (> 3’).

Future investigations are likely to involve descent from the right-hand turn on Rosa level or from the other end of the level at the top of pitch 3A (probably same descent route) – this may land on Mitchell’s level on the other side of the false flooring.

Paul Thorne, 15-07-02
Steve Holding 02-04-14



As you can see above it is a fairly advanced SRT trip suitable for the adventurous, but much re-bolting etc has been done since this account was written. The trip will also not include all in the above description and will be modified at the discretion of the leaders.

You have been told.


Meeting and Parking

Lefel Fawr, Crossroads, and Rosa

Very obvious flat area opposite the mill area at SN 802744. Other opportunist parking along the road.