Welsh Slate to be Nominated for World Heritage Status

© Alan James

The UK Government has announced plans to nominate North Wales' slate quarries as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Included in the bid are key sites that define Welsh slate: the Ogwen Valley quarries, Dinorwig, Nantlle, Blaenau Ffestiniog, the quarries in Cwm Pennant; and in the south of Snowdonia, Bryneglwys, Abergynolwyn a Rheilffordd Talyllyn and Chwarel Aberllefenni.

The Rainbow Area of the Dinorwig Slate Quarries.  © Alan James
The Rainbow Area of the Dinorwig Slate Quarries.
© Alan James

Each year the UK can put forward one site for consideration, and yesterday heritage minister Michael Ellis made the case for the industrial and cultural heritage of Gwynedd's gargantuan 19th Century slate quarries:

"Gwynedd's slate landscape is hugely important," he said. "Its vast quarries and mines have not only shaped the countryside of the region but also countless buildings across the UK and the world.

"This is a crucial milestone on the road to becoming a world heritage site and the global recognition that brings. While the Unesco nomination process is very thorough, I believe this unique landscape would be a worthy addition to the list."

Industrial remains in the Dinorwig Slate Quarries.  © Mark Reeves
Industrial remains in the Dinorwig Slate Quarries.
© Mark Reeves

Gwynedd Council have a website with more details of the bid, Llechi Cymru

If accepted by UNESCO, a decision that will be made in 2021, the slate quarries will become the fourth World Heritage Site in Wales and one of only 32 in Britain as a whole.

What this may mean for climbers and walkers is unclear, but it certainly seems likely that businesses and local government would seek to capitalise on World Heritage status to bring in more visitors.

Fun and games in the Dinorwig Slate Quarries.  © Mark Reeves
Fun and games in the Dinorwig Slate Quarries.
© Mark Reeves

In the meantime [plug alert] if you want to enjoy the quarries in their present state, loved by (some) climbers but generally neglected by the rest of the world, the new Rockfax North Wales Slate is out now.

Wes Hunter teetering up Poetry Pink on the Rainbow Slab.  © Mark Reeves
Wes Hunter teetering up Poetry Pink on the Rainbow Slab.
© Mark Reeves

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24 Oct, 2018

Isn't there already plans to flood one of the quarries for another hydro plant? 

24 Oct, 2018

Do people really find industrial slag heaps pleasant to look at ?

Rock faces, grassy hillsides and lakes are a thing of beauty, but it always strikes me that the area is spoilt by the spoil heaps. And that rather than quarrying for rock elsewhere, be it high grade for building or low grade for roads, we should first be processing the rock we have already blasted.

No doubt this is uneconomic, but only because restitution of the landscape is not properly factored in with quarrying ( a bit like decommissioning nuclear power plants).  

Isn't there a risk that by giving such devastated landscape protected status, we actually normalise environmental destruction ?

24 Oct, 2018

Yep, I think it’s a stunning area full of history.


24 Oct, 2018

Can you imagine trying to get parked at Bus-Stop if this goes ahead? I can't see them being able to stabilize the quarry enough to allow tourist to properly explore the place, however where ever tourist walk ways end up going I can imagine it being an end to climbing in those areas. We're technically not meant to be in there anyway. (Or at least have no right to be) so I can't see us being given much of a say in any plans. 

24 Oct, 2018

I can understand the interest in history, and yes it's worth remembering how much of this quarrying was done by hand

I can see the beauty in the pic used in the news article, but here is a wider view from up the valley 

I have clear memories of walking up Elidir Fawr when I was 17 and being blown away by the size and sheer ugliness of those spoil heaps.

Mind you, I suppose you'd get a lot of opposition if you wanted to build the pyramids these days !

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