ROMAN ROADS in the LLANBERIS AREA.
1795 Evans J - Map of North Wales (ca 1795)
1818 Ordnance survey drawing 2in/mile in British Library cat no 306. Photocopy available at GAS.
1838 Ordnance survey 1in/mile 1st ed as reprinted Harley/Oliver, Old Series Ordnance Survey Maps, vol 6 (ISBN 0903541440)
1891 Ordnance Survey 6in/mile 1st edition 1891, as read http://www.old-maps.co.uk/.
B James Bransby – A description of Llanberis & the Snowdon district (1845) (Caernarfon public library)
C Peter Crew, CBA group 2 vol 15 pp68-9 (1975)
GAS refers to Gwynedd Archive Service, Caernarfon.
GAT refers to Gwynedd Archaeological trust records.
H J Hucks – A pedestrian tour through North Wales (1795 reprinted/edited 1979) (Caernarfon public library)
HH Edmund Hyde Hall, A Description of Caernarvonshire (1809-1811) ed Emyr Gwynne Jones 1952 (Caernarfon public library)
M I. D. Margary, Roman Roads in Britain, vol 2, 1st ed 1957.
OS Ordnance Survey mapping other than specified above
R Royal Commission on Ancient & Historical Monuments (Wales) Caernarvonshire vol ii
W Edmund Waddelove, The Roman Roads of North Wales, 1999. ISBN 0 9506803 1 1.
WW Williams W Observations on the Snowdon mountains (1802) (Caernarfon public library)
Provision for a turnpike from Caernarfon through Llanberis to Pen y Gwryd, to meet the existing Capel Curig – Beddgelert etc road there, was made in the Turnpike Act of 1810 (50 Geo III c. 52) although it was not until 1831 that the work was completed. The modern road N of the present day village to the end of Llyn Padarn was built 1825-6. The accounts for construction of this stretch can be found at GAS XD2/13158, which is the account book of the agent’s payments, totalling £1677, to workmen on behalf of Lord Newborough for building the bridge at Penllyn and “some mile and a half of road toward Llanberis”. WW p73 describes it as “a road, or rather a mere right of passage, goes through [Capel Curig] from Llanberis to Llanrwst; but it is exceeding rugged and uneven”, and again described by B p28 “a few years ago, before the opening of the new line of road, the traveller had to pick his steps as he could, with difficulty and suspicion, the path being irregular and rough and full of quagmires”. Notwithstanding this a track of sorts did exist, as evidenced by 1795, HH figs 21 & 24, and 1818. Even earlier GAS XQS/1660/165 (ie 1660), which is a “presentment” of a bridge over Afon Llugwy at Capel Curig, refers to the king’s highway from Caernarfon to Llanrwst, which implies this route. In the pass itself 1818 appears to show the modern course E of and including Pont y Gromlech, (RCAMHW 700), which would seem most probably to be the Pont ger mach bridge, parish Llanberis, described as under repair by Revd. P. B. Williams in November 1818 (GAS XQS/1819/16). A bridge on the modern site NW of Llanberis = Nant Peris is also shown on 1795 and 1818, and would appear to be that referred to in 1760 (GAS Vaynol 2515).
In his description of a probable Roman route W p286 states “the modern A4086 climbs across [the mountain] face to the top of Penypass; there are no signs of an earlier road within the few only feet on either side where such could possibly have been”. In fact, there is near continuous evidence just below the main road, and after tracking this on the ground in June 2002, I discovered the entire route is in fact marked on 1891 as “ancient trackway” just as is the stretch from Capel Curig to Pen y Gwryd referred to in W p279. It is also referred to at R plxvi where it is defined as 6594 5552 to 6480 5558, and as being “post mediaeval” although without any evidence for date. Like most of these traces, it is much more easily seen in winter/early spring than in late summer, when bracken growth conceals everything. Grid references derived from Garmin E-Trex quoting an accuracy of 10m. Heights from same in feet for comparison with 1891. E to W.
6571 5551 1028ft diverges from road. Rather faint, hollow winding trail with occasional straighter terrace.
6563 5543 1002ft clear low terraceway damaged in parts, travelling slightly downhill E to W. From time to time from here to 6533 5522 there are
occasional remains of iron posts formed with 2 loops in them, presumably the last vestiges of a fence on the line.
6550 5520 982ft ditto
6549 5517 969ft prominent terraceway, embanked with wall approx 8ft high, climbing to corner of Bwlch Gwyddel. (click for photo)
6548 5515 969ft hollow way immediately below no 3, series of small zig zags rising to converge with above
6546 5517 1000ft
rounding corner of Bwlch
Gwyddel, presumably later variation on next
6544 5521 1040ft sharp small zig zag rounding corner, upper leg cut through rock.
6543 5515 1010ft terraceway, hollow tracks in places.
6533 5522 1033ft terraceway crossing modern fence
6521 5528 979 ft terraceway. Occasional remains of culverts
6514 5531 977ft terraceway
6513 5531 978ft converges with track coming up from Cwm Dyli (see Nant Gwynant section & R p lxvi)
6502 5507 1028ft rough terraceway below main terrace descending to Cwm Dyli
6490 5552 1095ft
terraceway with metalling exposed by water action (click
6478 5559 1193ft stile to Pen Y Pass car park.
1891 then marks trackway on S edge of A4086 but road widening has obliterated any traces, to point 6458 5573 where it crossed at oblique angle and ran N of and below main road. A path is marked on 1891 and still on OS 6in 1930 edition, although not on present maps, but initially the traces on the ground are very faint and intermittent, slight terraces and/or hollows at 6451 5578, 6430 5573, 6423 5579, 6419 5582, hardly distinguishable were it not for the map evidence. This is boggy ground so remains may have been covered or washed away. By 6398 5594 there is virtually no space between the present road and the river, and the line must be under the present road which will have been widened from its 1831 original.
Better evidence emerges as the line diverges from the modern road again with a terrace at 6370 5603, with two adjoining hollow ways, then a partially collapsed culvert at 6363 5610 (click for photo), slight hollow at 6362 5611, then a very clear terrace with a stone embankment at 6355 5610. Where water washes over the line at 6345 5617 there is a scatter of metalling (click for photo), and the road must have crossed/forded Afon Nant Peris as on the OS map at 6341 5623. To one side of this line there is a slightly perilous “bridge” of two very large slabs 6347 5620 with one of the foundation slabs underneath partially dislodged (click for photo), presumably a packhorse variation. Further slight hollows or terraces are visible at 6333 5632, 6323 5647, 6317 5651, but little evidence at the crossing of the sidestream Afon Bryn at 6313 5652. All along this stretch there is frequently a hollow path, no more than a foot or so wide, meandering in or beside the traces of the road. The line then falls in, below Pont Gromlech, with W’s photo p285, plate IV. R plxvi = GAT 3875 refers to this second stretch of trackway as 6345 5620 to 6336 5606
Below this on to Nant Peris there is no evidence other than the present A4086, which as near straight as the topography allows, and when a flood plain begins to develop, runs in the angle between it and the mountainside. (as in Aber to Ogwen? and in Cwm Dyli?). [but check for anything at Pont Gwastadnant and boundary line beyond it].
From Nant Peris there are two possibilities for a route. One is to remain on the NE side of the river, and pass through Dinorwig Quarries. This could be supported by evidence of a trail described below (walking in the opposite direction) which does do precisely this. On the other hand W. postulates a route crossing Afon Nant Peris for a second time and passing down the SW side of Llyn Peris and beyond. Again, there is abundant field evidence for this route, and it may not necessarily be a question of “either/or”. It is easy to overlook the fact that the Roman occupation lasted 350 years, and that a route that was appropriate for early military occupation, might not have been so well suited to the exploitation of natural resources, or other purposes, subsequently. Often no certainty can be established, but in this situation the very steepness of the ascent up to Bwlch y Groes described below on the SW route might be seen as suiting an early “military” phase rather than a later one.
The A4086 beyond Nant Peris (which is of course the original Llanberis) has been remodelled by landscaping for Dinorwig Power Station in the 1970s, but projecting the line of the subsequent evidence cited below suggests the original crossing could have lain to the SE. However, beyond 6050 5815 the scope for crossing on the SE side is inhibited by two very swampy patches in the flood plain separated by an outcrop of rock, so the best place would seem to be in the vicinity of the present “footbridge” at 6036 5824, which now consists of a single very large quarried slate slab. There is a public right of way NW from here until the main road is reached again, but there are no other indications except that at 6027 5836 there is some slight suggestion of a terrace with a wall on NE side rising gently until it disappears under the first of the slate tips and copper mine workings that together with the modern landscaping will have obscured any signs for several hundred metres. The next clear indication is the remnants of a terraceway leaving the modern lay by at 5980 5878, (click for photo) with a fence on its lower side, at first largely cut away by modern roadworks, passing the entrance to a collapsed adit at 5972 5881 and then becoming quite unmistakable at 5963 5884 (click for photo). This route, which is presume is that referred to in W p286 note 6, rises some 150 feet above the modern road as it negotiates the only possible route through the cliff faces of Clogwyn Mawr other than taking what is presumably the turnpike route along the bottom of the cliff beside the lake. On the original OS the difference in height between 1831 road and lake is only 6 feet so it might originally have been effectively impassable. NB there is another largely destroyed terraceway arcing above the present road to pass in front of what is now Bens Cottage at 5972 5884, which is the only building to survive from the copper mine of that name. This whole section can be seen quite clearly from Dinorwig Quarries on the opposite side of Llyn Peris.
The original route, has a narrow spur to reach Bens Mine at 5960 5884, where the adit is now blocked by a large rock fall, and passes across a waste tip to go under a wall at 5964 5880. This section is no longer a recognized footpath, and is not marked on 1891 although it is shown on 1838 as an access to the copper mine. Fortunately there is a sheep access through which intrepid adventurers can crawl under this very substantial stone wall, and the road is evident on the far side with a functioning culvert at 5961 5987. It then descends down a side valley towards the lake again, skirting a small boggy patch as a slight terrace showing mainly grass against the predominant bracken, and with some display of metalling in wheel ruts. Passing the abandoned farm of Gweithdy there are again grassy patches in the heather, followed by a sheeptrack, until the route goes under a wall and turns sharply to the left to cross a stream. The large zigzag marked on 1st ed 1” & 6” to the NE of the farm is presumably a later diversion, since the straight route is only a gentle slope. At this stream there is a substantial functioning culvert at 5932 5906, close to and clearly visible from the present main road (click for photo), with a road width about 4m. There is a second culvert at 5924 5905 before the terrace closes with the A4086 at 5916 5906. This will be the section referred to by R p lxii. as 5950 5903 to 5926 5907.
They part company again at 5906 5912 where an access lane rises to the farm of Cwm Aelhir Uchaf, beyond which there is an unused and rock strewn terraceway leading down to the A4086 again at 5840 5946. This last stretch is not on 1891 but is shown as a road on 1st ed 1”, neither is it currently shown as a right of way, although clearly the authorities think it is, because a wicket gate and steps have been constructed at considerable expense to gain access to the abandoned section when the main road was modernized in the 1970s. Beyond this it looks as though it dropped down past Cwm Aelhir Isaf almost to the lakeshore, some suggestion of a road line can be seen from the opposite side of the valley, but there is no public access here. Back up at 5868 5968 a track bears NE from A4086 (the junction has been substantially modified), and there looks to be a hollow rising from the lakeside to meet up with it. The road then passes W of Dolbadarn Castle as a terraceway 5857 5976 which is cut through a slate outcrop, some 8 feet wide (click for photo). Beyond on the wooded knoll of Parc Bach there are several terraceways, which presumably reflect routes of different periods and/or for different purposes. On the top of the knoll 5846 5974 there is a megalithic structure of unknown date and purpose, GAT 4053 = C “could be anything from prehistoric to Victorian folly”. Leading up to it on the E side there is a very steep terraceway with a double zigzag. This top would have been an ideal site for a signal station, since there is a clear view back up to the top of the pass on the one side, and on to Bwlch y Groes on the other. A second terraceway appears at 5847 5982 (click for photo), clearly revetted then passing through two more small rock cuttings and over the remains of a culvert at 5839 5980. The road appears to continue into the grounds of Royal Victoria Hotel a few metres further on. A third roughly parallel narrower terraceway can be seen a few metres further down the hill, presumably a packhorse variant again. Both are lost as they pass into the landscaped grounds of the Royal Victoria Hotel. These paths are curving round the hillside rather than descending directly to the flood plain, which nevertheless has to be crossed at some point. The natural continuation would be SE parallel to Victoria Terrace, and then NW over Afon Hwch and under the present Snowdon railway viaduct as Ffordd yr Eglwys/Church Road, this runs just above the flood plain at the edge of the hillside.
There is also evidence of a variation of the crossing of Afon Hwch by way of a detour up the hill further S, crossing the river just above Ceunant Mawr/Llanberis waterfall, which with its attendant gorge precludes any way over at any intermediate point. Leaving the main route by Dolbadarn Castle in Parc Bach at 5854 5979 there is a footpath/RoW which looks like a variation of a slightly higher terraceway (ie no 4 in total for this woodland), which has been blocked at the wall now marking the boundary of the landscaped hotel grounds. On the other side of the modern main road is Coed Victoria, and an examination of 1891 and modern maps shows that there are in theory two rights of way up this hillside, which in practical usage have been replaced by a forestry road with access sign and stile leaving at 5841 5955, leading up the hill to rejoin the one RoW as a footpath at 5820 5938. This has most recently been conifer woodland, which has been largely cleared and as of April 2003 is the subject of a planning application to convert to a caravan site. One of the RoWs is mapped as leaving the main road directly opposite the exit of the footpath from Parc Bach at 5839 5956, although there is no sign whatever of it on the ground, nor any access for it in the recently rebuilt roadside wall. As usual it is however shown as a footpath on 1891. After traversing a very boggy patch of ground this line starts to climb the hill and remnants of a terraceway can be seen at 5826 5941 (slightly hollowed) and 5821 5940. Where it is rejoined by the modern (well used) footpath at 5820 5938 as already mentioned, there is a distinct causeway (click for photo) at 5803 5935 3m wide on a rock foundation and then a terrace (click for photo) with a prominent rock revetment on its N side (click for photo). This last section is quite clearly a built road, which has no obvious function in the industrial archaeology of the area. It disappears under the car park of Pen y Ceunant Isaf (a cottage of C18th origin according to its website at http://home.freeuk.net/djwilliams/index.htm ) crossing the tarmac byroad at 5797 5911. Going through the rough ground on the S side of the wall opposite one comes to a feature going down to the river at 5775 5930. This side of the riverbank is very rough and broken except at this point, which displays a smooth graded slope, looking very artificial in the context (click for photo). Walkers evidently cross the river here, not easy even when the water is low, and distinctly dangerous when it is in flood in view of the vertical drop only a few metres downstream. There are no signs of a ford. This section is not marked as a footpath on 1891 or modern maps, but the de facto path rises gently from the river on the other side to cross the Snowdon railway by wicket gates at 5776 5930, so clearly the railway builders recognized a crossing here. It falls in with a tarmac road for a short distance, then a small rock revetted terraceway, 1891 footpath/RoW leaves to the N, crossing the hillside at 5780 5944 (click for photo), converging with, and then diverging from, a modern access track and passing through a kissing gate at 5775 5953. Beyond this the path turns down the hillside and there is evidence of a terraceway with a foundation of large stones damaged by water action. This latter section is an RoW but is not on 1891. After a steep little descent by means, now, of slate steps, this route brings us back to 5783 5971 referred to above. However improbable it may look on the map, this detour is clear enough on the ground, it is evidently not a modern route, but beyond that any date must be speculative, although the causeway at 5803 5935 is quite substantial and wider than most of the local pack horse trails. The reason for this diversion can only be speculated; the lake level may have been higher at some time than now, flooding the direct route across the flood plain; alternatively Afon Hwch itself when in flood could have become difficult to cross at the lower level.
Whichever route is taken, at 5783 5971 the present road turns E again towards the modern village. The present Anglican church of St. Padarn which gives its name to the road is of Victorian origin, but at 5783 5979 there is an earlier smaller building now known as Church House, already relegated to the status of a Sunday school in 1891 – although as it stands this building too is of relatively modern origin, since there is sawn slate in its walls. Capel Goch at 5781 6010 states above its portal that it was first built in 1777, and these two buildings lend some credence to the idea that the original road through was in this area, rather than the modern High Street nearer the lake. This is in the flood plain and although it became the line of the 1831 turnpike, was already present, together with Dolbadarn Inn, as a side lane on 1818. At the bend at 5783 5971 there is a gate and terraceway going straight on, though this might be modern as there is a barn a few metres along it. However the field boundary running on its upper southern side continues across some scrubby woodland joining another byroad at 5753 5983, and the latter part of this is marked as a RoW on modern maps, although it does not appear on 1891. Where it comes out on the by road there are traces of a metalled surface (click for photo), but the footpath has been very efficiently barricaded at 5752 5987, so the line cannot at present be examined further. This obstruction was reported to the local authority 24th April 2003. The modern road runs down to the junction by Capel Goch mentioned by W p.286 (below), but it seems there was in the past a crossing of Afon Goch somewhere on its NW side above this junction, because at 5748 5993 there is another blocked RoW which used to lead down to a bridge the river (local authority information 24th April 2003). On the opposite side there is a cul de sac Rallt Goch, and at 5753 6006 a narrow terraceway leaves the roadway, climbing the near vertical side of the riverbank at an oblique angle. At the top of the bank there is modern housing development, which will have obliterated any further traces. This terrace seems significant, as it bears no relation to any modern (ie last 200 years) land use, but rather forms an alternative to the unclassified lane crossing the river a little further down, which W p286 sees as resuming the prospective Roman line.
This lane climbs steeply out of the little valley, and after serving as a public road to various houses, becomes an unmade track at a wicket gate at 5728 6029, which looks like the usual packhorse trail, with a terraceway (photo) and a functioning culvert, rejoining the line of the other road shown on 1818 at 5709 6036. This lane, now tarmac, climbs the hillside with magnificent views at 566608, where Glyn Rhonwy quarry has been excavated to leave it isolated on a pillar of rock with tunnels underneath, and thereafter a series of lanes leading into the main road into Caernarfon, with a disused stretch at 490630 up past the police station at Maesincla and continuing directly into Stryd Fawr of the walled town. Presumably this is a “medieval” route prior to the turnpike, used as i) continuation of packhorse route over pass, ii) transporting copper ore from mines at Nant Peris, and iii) slate which we now know was shipped across Llyn Peris in the C16th. It is shown on 1795, 1818, and HH fig20, and fits the description in H p69, “from Llanberis to Caernarfon…the road lies at first over high and unpleasant mountains, and is afterwards succeeded by a low flat”.
However, the footpath from 5692 6032 to 5576 5992 referred to as a possible Roman line by W, which I have walked several times before reading his book, has no distinguishing features, notwithstanding there is only limited intrusion from slate tips. GAT 3875 = R lxvi refers to another route parallel to this further north and of unknown date from 5541 6151 across Bryn Mawr to 5335 6143. Description refers to culverts, 5ft road width, descent on W end by zig zags. I have not yet looked at this.
A clear alternative is in evidence at 5705 5990, a terraceway to the N of the present byroad from Llanberis to Bwlch y Groes. This climbs the S side of the Iron Age hill fort of Dinas Ty- Du (5666 5986, GAT 4034, R p69), and higher up the hill passes below a hut circle described as Romano-British (5661 5980, GAT 4032, R pp169-170). About a mile to the S across the valley there are further hut circles at 5693 5867 (GAT 4035, R p170), - which have what looks like a small ironstone mine immediately above them - and at 5713 5912 (GAT 4040, R p170).
This route is marked as a footpath on 1891 climbing the hill to the W, but it is now blocked by a fence to the E. Below this point, on the line of an 1891 footpath no longer in use, there are traces of a roadway at 5707 5992 (click for photo), and at 5708 5993 perhaps the collapsed remains of a zig zag. Further downhill there is a small very marshy area with some cart tracks at 5712 5993 on the line of the former footpath, but 1891 suggests (the mapping is not very clear) the path divided, and there is a very indistinct possible roadline to the E, going through a small wooded patch and closing with the present access road to Ty Newydd. Further down through the fields there are openings or gates which suggest the line, but no construction evidence as such. Also on this hillside there is an overgrown terrace at 5705 5996, which can be clearly seen from Allt Wen on the opposite hillside (eg at the old Dinorwic Quarry Hospital) when the vegetation is low, but this does not seem to relate to the other evidence in any way, and disappears completely as it goes up the hill into a very step gully.
In the other direction the terrace closes with the road leaving a miniature car park of the kind described by W (p71 note 10), and just beyond there is a path immediately to the N of the present road, which is accessed by a wicket gate at 5701 5983, and climbs the hill, initially obscured by gorse bushes but then zigzagging very steeply indeed, about 1 in 3 at a guess, with evidence of a terrace cut through slate bedrock at 5693 5975 (click for photo) and possibly a small quarry pit at 5692 5982. The path continues as a narrow terraceway slightly hollowed through the slate bedrock on that part of the zigzag which coincides with the dip of the slope, but otherwise largely unworn, frequent evidence of rough kerbstones on the lower side, occasionally both. At times there is residual evidence of side ditches, and also when vegetation is well grown in damp conditions, filled-in drainage channels can be seen running at 45 degrees across the path (a characteristic feature of more modern paths in the area, eg Snowdon Ranger). The terraceway is clearly seen rising to a field gate at 5675 5975, and a second at 5664 5922. Beyond this the terraceway is again clear at 5664 5973 and an edge stone at 5652 6000 before closing with the existing track over Bwlch y Groes without further evidence at 5641 5988. All this is marked as a FP on OS and modern maps, regularly used by walkers although it has not been classified as a right of way. It appears not to have been used as a road for a very long time, and there is no evidence of the “shadowing” by a pack horse trail seen earlier on in the Pass, instead the present road/track from Llanberis over Bwlch y Groes, which is still a public road used by all terrain vehicles, eases this very steep ascent by detouring via ruined Maen Llywd Uchaf at 5671 5948. The recognition of this route from Llanberis to Caernarfon via Bwlch y Groes is apparent from the enclosure map of Llanrug parish, dated 1806, which although it does not show the whole stretch across Bwlch y Groes does show each end on lower ground marked “from Llanberis”, “to Caernarfon”, using the unclassified road mentioned below. Further up the pass an older line is faintly visible from 5613 5985 a few feet above, ie S, of the modern track, used by pony trekkers, with occasional traces of an outer edge and small pits on the southern upper side. This is slate bedrock again, and since the elevation is too high to represent a spring line, one presumes these are old slate workings on a tiny scale compared with the Victorian efforts all around. This would, I think, be the nearest outcrop to Segontium. Across the hill to the S is a curious feature at 5600 5924 (click for photo), a nearly flat shelf of boggy land about 100m x 30m on what is otherwise a very steep hillside, which could be considered the remains of a long degraded quarrying of the rock which outcrops on this hillside, although it is here siltstone of the Nant Ffrancon formation, rather than the Llanberis slate strata on which the Industrial Revolution quarries are sited (Geological Survey 1:50000, sheet 106). Presumably the formation to which slates found at Segontium belong, is known?
Beyond the pass W refers to road junction at 5310 6011. I haven’t looked at Ws route beyond there, but am intrigued by what is now the “major” unclassified road going down the hillside to A4085 at 5183 5990, slightly warped on a straight alignment, and then continuing W of road as a footpath closing with my “Gwyrfai” hypothesis (separate investigation) at 5082 5971. Initially there are no distinguishing features on this, but beyond the slight V at 5115 5986, which has apparently been introduced to provide a stile through field walls superimposed at an oblique angle, there is v slight evidence of construction with a ditch to S and perhaps wall to N on centre. Is this a variation added to access Sbound road at Bontnewydd? (W p 232 and note 8).
?? Segontium - Dinorwig
Ws chapter on the Llanberis Pass road starts p279 with a reference to the milestone found in a building wall at SH 5665 6357 in 1798 when a building was demolished. In an area where large boulders for walling are so abundant it is hardly necessary to transport rock even a modest distance, it seems no more likely this milestone originally came from the Llanberis area as that it came from the Canovium – Segontium road (separate investigation). Why not look at the road beside which it was found? - passing through Clwt y Bont and ignoring the village of Deiniolen (formerly Ebenezer) which grew up round the quarry access road built at the beginning of the C19th.
Starting from the vicinity of Canovium – Segontium road at 531648, (separate investigation) there is a lane which goes straight on to Penisarwaun after main road to Llanrug bears S at 533645 and then continues on to Clwt y Bont. This is direct rather than aligned, although E of Penisarwaun it is “warped straight” (photo?), and is all but level. After crossing the A4244 (B4547 on maps) the road passes the site where the milestone was found, and continues climbing gently until it comes to a steep pitch at 5723 6323. After crossing the Dinorwig Tramroad of 1824 at 5746 6309, the main road bears N up hill, minor road goes straight on, and on S side at 5760 6303 there is Tan yr Henffordd, which looks as though it was originally a 2 roomed cottage now much extended. Then again, by Deiniolen Silver Band room, the more used road turns N, and lane goes on and immediately swings through a sharp upstream zigzag over river Caledffrwd (5765 6301). Unusually for a minor road in this area the bridge is built up from 2 central piers, rather than a simple arch or horizontal slabs. There are also slight traces of edge-on paving below the bridge on N side. At 5795 6294 the road veers N round a mound of earth, but the S field wall goes straight on, and there is an old opening for a wicket gate in it halfway along the line. All this stretch from the main road, through what is now the village of Clwt y Bont, and including the zigzag, appears on the Llanddeiniolen enclosure award of 1813 (GAS). On this plan the track then turns abruptly S at 5797 6292, this still exists as an RoW, the road going straight on is not marked but logically must have been there. 1818 is similarly drawn. A small stream (now culverted) is crossed at 5824 6284, then at 5351 6282 it crosses 1812 quarry road and goes very steeply up the side of a tributary of Caledffrwd, where it is known as Lon Bwlch as it climbs to a small windgap at the top. The terraceway is most pronounced at 5862 6254, where a retaining wall some 8ft high is beginning to fall in. Another minor road is joined at 5870 6231 and then continues S but at 5871 6195 there is an awkward T junction – there are no obvious alternatives up hill to E although this could be investigated further. There is then the very striking feature of Lon Garrett climbing across the mountainside until it disappears under the quarry tips at 5952 6115. It is not obvious why such a line should have been chosen for a quarry road of the Industrial Revolution, when the main C18/early C19 activity is known to have been down below on the Tramroad at Allt Ddu; this upper area of the quarry being as far as is known a later development. Further investigation may yield more information. The lower section of it appears on 1818, without the quarry at Garrett from which it is now named. It is then referred to by name in a sketch of Dinorwig quarries made in 1836 (GAS Vaynol 4190). Looked at from the opposite side of Llanberis Pass, it is clear the line is the only possible one on the hillside at this high level and has been surveyed to a very regular gradient. Does this imply there was older quarrying activity up here? Or should it be compared with the Roman road at Allt yr Esgair in the Usk valley between Brecon and Abergavenny (M p65), which climbs to the top of a ridge when there is no necessity to do so, presumably for observation purposes?
In the latter case it could have connected with the trail which emerges from the tips at 5999 5959 (click for photo) and seems to be older than the main quarry workings. At this point it is composed of quarry-era slate slab steps, but a little further down at 6011 5947 an older track is visible immediately S of the path emerging from under the tip. The inference is that the path existed prior to the tip, and was reengineered across it when waste encroached, which suggested it was regarded as being of some significance, although by then no doubt it also constituted access for quarrymen from Nant Peris. The fact there is a right of way right through the Dinorwig quarries reinforces the presumption of a preexisting route. Further evidence of a made track can be seen at 6022 5933 (click for photo), 6034 5921 (click for photo), and 6046 5904 (click for photo), although it is not then clear whether the present farm road brings it down to Nant Peris, or whether the existence of a right of way further up the slope crossing the Afon Gafr valley by a modern footbridge above Nant Peris is of significance. More investigation may clarify. This path does not appear on 1818, but this may be because it was not considered a “road” as distinct from a path – absence of evidence cannot necessarily be taken as evidence of absence.
Copyright John Byde. Revision date 30 December 2003