I first entered the Henfwlch Adit which emerges at SN
737882, in the late 1980s. At that time it ended at a complete collapse
just past Strides Shaft. O T Jones refers to it as “Hafan Shaft”.
I was intrigued by a short heading on the left
leading to a winze, this now know to be the no 1 winze. Talking to the
late Damian McCurdy I was told that he had descended it with some friends
and discovered a window into an enormous stope.
In 1994, I returned to the mine, in order to descend
the aforementioned winze. There was a length of timber across the level,
put there as a belay for this purpose by Damian and his friends, I backed
this up with a number of bolts.
The winze was found to be about 50ft deep to a solid
bottom where there were a number of sections of ladder which had fallen
away from the sides of the shaft. There was a window to the west into the
large stope, a floor of rubble being gained after a further few feet.
Here, water coming down the winze disappeared into
the floor. Progress inbye was prevented by a continuation of the collapse
from the Adit above.
Above a bank of deads, the stope was seen to extend
about 15 metres in an outbye direction.
This was done by the light of an Oldham lead acid
caplamp, best lighting available at the time. I now see that I failed
completely to appreciate the enormousness of the place, all I could see
was a rising pile of rubble.
This was the limit of my earlier explorations,
however towards the end of the main level a gap in boulders draughted
strongly, and in 1996 this was dug out into a passable winze. At a later
date it was enlarged and reinforced with concrete.
From here it was possible to climb back up to the
level of the main adit at a point where it entered the inbye section of
the main stope. here was an ore barrow in near perfect condition. The adit
extends inbye with various exploratory levels and interesting features.
Up until recently the main stope was cut into two
sections by the heavy fall in the main Strides Shaft. The outbye end only
reached by a very wet abseil of about 50 feet down no 1 winze. I don't
believe anyone has been there since my initial foray. Late in 2018 I
commenced a dig through the fall to join the twp sections of the main
stope. This was completed late December.
I found myself looking down into a massive vertical
stopes which plunged downwards immediately in front of me. My initial
thoughts included “SRT”. The stope is vertical and looks from that high
vantage point totally massive. Its actually about 75 metres long by about
3 or 4 metres wide and about 75 feet high from the bottom.
descending the stope will be using a fixed handline on the left which
enables a reasonably safe descent. The back of the stope is above a bank
of deadwork and is reached by an easy traverse. Cowstails will be
required, good belay belt sufficient. Thos part is optional. Care should
be taken here as there is a significant collapse into workings below, care
needed here, edge crumbling. This gives an indication as to the likely
true nature of it. Not a bank of deads and backfill but the top of a stull.
The descent will take delegates past the first
waterfall coming down on the left. It has deposited a nice formation down
the wall of the stope. Progressing down one reaches a point where the
water disappears into the floor, this is the section that has dropped
since my visit of about 25 years ago. At the back is a rock inscribed “RF
94”, Déjà vu.
There is a nice view into the bottom of the no 1
winze with the remains of the collapsed ladders now liberally coated with
flow deposit. This forms the second waterfall.
The bank of deads and backfill extends about 15
metres, at the back a blind heading attempted to find a payable section of
the lode, unsuccessfully. Only notable artefact is an old tea tin.
The mine was worked down to a 30 fathom level, with
levels at 10 and 20 fathoms. The top of the bank of dead work and
backfill, a cross stemple and the base of the winze, all being on the same
level causes me to think that this is the original horizon of the 10
fathom level. With partial collapse into the workings below.. Also the
water disappearing into the floor must be exiting by the Hafan Deep Adit.
Whether by natural fissure as the late David Bick suggests, or by a drift.
We will never know. Of course a natural fissure could be a fraction of an
inch or several feet forming in effect a natural cave.
Also, "waterfall stope" is vertical, unlike "ore
barrow" stope, which has a more pronounced dip on the lode.
This whole mine is a very interesting place to
explore with different kinds of rocks and colours. I fancy that it has
been worked by tributers after it officially closed, as were other mines
in the area. Random areas of backfill are everywhere with abundant signs
Roy Fellows. 2018
Knee deep wading.
Some slight scrambling
and hands and knees crawl through 2018 dig.
Steep descent and
climb back plus optional traverse in Waterfall Stope. Cows tails and belay
belt required for this section.
Safety Risk Assessment
Please refer to the trip list
Meeting and Parking
Very limited parking opposite the mine at SN 738883
by a culvert and just round a bend in the road. Main parking is at
SN736885 adjacent to a track on the other side of the road. Nice views
over the Nant y moch reservoir.