Dorothea quarry, july 2019

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Out & About Exploration
Nov 6, 2015
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After torrential rain two weeks previous and then a blow out on the motorway the following week we were hoping it was going to be third time lucky. Leaving Rochdale and the 30° temperature behind we headed for Wales and about 2 1/2 hours later we arrived at our destination. After abandoning the car as near as we could we followed the track into the unknown.

Dorothea quarry is slate quarry in North Wales and was opened around 1820. In it's heyday it was one of the world's largest. Originally made up of several smaller quarries it was inefficient and eventually it became one. As the quarries grew the pits got nearer and nearer to the village of Talysarn so the village was relocated leaving only the hall and a few other buildings. A narrow gauge railway was used onsite. Initially using horse drawn carts. The pits got deeper and deeper, down to depths of over 300ft. Spoil heaps tower over the site on all sides, some held back by giant bastions, made of waste slate piled up creating enormous dry stone walls. in fact everything on site is made from waste slate including the giant pyramids used to anchor the cables for the inclines.
Unfortunately it was this waste that was finally the undoing of the quarry. With no real system the waste was piled on top of good rock and despite the shuffling around of railway tracks and other features it was too expensive to keep quarrying here. The quarry finally closed in the 1970s and nature started to take back what was left.
Walking round here you can't fail to see the giant pyramids and the tall pumping house but stray from the track and you feel like you could be in a set from Lord of the rings. Buildings almost totally covered in moss and trees lie in all directions. Perilously deep rail cuttings sit close by with no fencing and one wrong step could lead to disaster.
In recent times, as the pit filled with water, it has become a magnet to divers and although prohibited it has still cost the lives of over 20 people. Ironically the danger notices arent much bigger than postcards with some ideally placed to trip you over the quarry edge.
After a circuit of the main pit we were knackered but had only seen a small proportion of the area.
In fact i missed some things that ive been itching to get back too since.

One of the awesome pyramids which in fact is little more than a pile of dry stone
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The first building was possibly a lodge for Talysarn hall
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The entrance to what was once a stable block and kennels , later modified to a shower block for the quarrymen
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Talysarn hall
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Cant resist....
Must go in......
The tramway tunnel....
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This is a redundant tramway which ends with a collapse. Annoyingly i now know that a small passageway leads off to the right just before the collapse...and i missed it. Looking at the old maps it appears that the tramline was moved as talysarn quarry grew and i think the tunnel would now exit in the quarry face (not good) so the collapse may be deliberate.
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This was a really nice escape from the intense heat. The amount of work that went in to creating all the features here is mind boggling, and thats not counting the quarry itself
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A pyramid. Subsidence is starting to destroy this incline
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Look...No mortar😮
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A dressing shed....
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The engine house....
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Some randoms......
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I absolutely loved this place and this barely scratches the surface.

Parting shot....
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Thanks fer lookin


Veteran Member
Veteran Member
Jan 13, 2007
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East Devon's Jurassic Park!
What a great place and fabulous photos. Absolutely love the remains; I agree about about the Lord of the Rings feel to it, all that moss and ferns is wonderful. :)