The former Welsh mining town of Blaenau Ffestiniog, for two centuries, provided slate for the roofing industry. The scale of this extraction is starkly evident as over 90 per cent of what got mined was useless for the roofing industry that it predominantly supplied. Sheer mounds of slate waste stack up in surreal mini-mountains, while the actual mountains of Snowdonia behind have been worked into abrupt bluffs and overhangs.
Mining apparatuses are everywhere, including, in pride of place on the town square, the locomotive that once shunted slate out of the caverns. The whole scene is scoured by snow on the higher slopes and icy rain below, supporting Blaenau’s claim to being Britain’s second-wettest settlement after Fort William.
With this bleak backdrop and history you'd be mistaken in thinking Blaenau is a boom-times-to-bleak-times sob story. Luke Waterson reveals how adventure sports has breathed new and exciting life into this forgotten Welsh town.
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