A sleepover at Corris slate mine

DSC00253This inaugural overnight trip was organised and led by Mark from the Corris Mine Explorers to celebrate Visit Wales’ Big Adventure Weekend held on 2-3 April 2016. This sixteen hour adventure packs a punch and is a great experience for anyone who seeks a Welsh adventure with a difference.

We met early evening on the Saturday at the very traditional Slater Arms Inn in the heart of Corris. We sat down to a hearty meal and did the introductions, five of us in all plus Mark our guide. The pub comes recommended with a simple but tasty menu, good choice of ales and friendly locals. I can certainly recommend the Veggie Chill!

Once fed we headed to Mark’s storage unit to kit up with helmets and lamps and have the safety briefing, and then it was time for the short hike to the mine entrance which would be our home for the night. For the next four hours we explored the caves by scrambling, squeezing, clambering and climbing.

The caves were abandoned by the workers almost overnight in 1970 leaving behind an array of mining paraphernalia including candle stubs from the 1800s, woodbine cigarette packets from the early 1900’s and various mining tools. There were also lots of sticks of dynamite with Mark finding more every time he explores a new stretch of cave and we trod very carefully whilst travelling through the lesser explored parts of the mine!

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Mark holding a candle stub from the 1800s

Some of the family caves we explored were several storeys high from generations of mining, creating huge caverns. We partially climbed up one and I looked back down at the scale of what these generations of miners spent their entire adulthoods creating. Crazy.

We finally wandered through the back scenes of King Arthurs Labyrinth to set up camp for the night in a dry, large cavarn. We had a ‘midnight feast’ at 1am, then settled down for a surprisingly comfortable night on the slate flints – my airbed survived without a puncture, bonus!

It was an early start the next morning, with a quick breakfast before setting off again. We spent the morning exploring; there were ladders, ropes, fireworks and calf-high icy water before clambering out to a bright blue sky and the fluorescent green colours of ferns around the entrance. The experience ended with a cooked breakfast at the Corris Craft Centre and a presentation of our #findyourepic badge.

Mark’s knowledge and enthusiasm for the slate mines is second to none, and you can’t help but get caught up in the atmosphere of the mine as he tells stories of the miners and how they worked and lived this steep valley. He has been exploring these mines for more than 20 years, he loves them and he wants you to love them too.

If you fancy trying something different and don’t mind a bit of scrambling then this is the activity for you. It really is a fantastically unusual way to spend the weekend and I for one will be the first to book onto the next overnighter at Corris Slate Mines.

  • Cost:– £150 which includes evening meal, midnight feast, breakfast and 2nd breakfast
  • Logistical ease:– Easy, just book, pack your kit and go!
  • Adventure rating:- ****, absolutely loved it!

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