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 Access to Cwmystwyth was withdrawn by the Crown Agents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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.