Frizztext’s A to Z Challenge: Y is for Ystwyth Valley

It’s time again for Frizztext’s A to Z Challenge, this week it’s Y. From my travels, Y could be for York, Ynys Pandy, Ystraddllyn, and um, can’t think of much else at present other than –
the Ystwyth Valley (OK, in Welsh this is actually Cwmystwyth – but I need a Y, see?)

So, back to the Ystwyth valley… according to Wikipedia, “Silver, lead and zinc have been mined in the valley of the River Ystwyth since Roman times, an activity that reached its peak in the 18th century. The largest of the very many mines was Cwmystwyth Mine. It is reputed that the average age at death of the miners in Cwmystwyth was 32, largely because of acute lead poisoning. There is no longer any active metal mining in the Ystwyth valley.

My parents lived for a time in Shropshire, and sometimes when I stayed with them, I would head off into mid-Wales. To the Elan valley, the Ystwyth valley. The latter because I happened on an article in Country Life magazine… showing an image of an abandoned mine building. I became fascinated by the Cwmystwyth mine, derelict, disused and more than a tad eerie…the former slate dressing mill was covered in sheets of corrugated metal which used to creak and clank in the wind! I would sometimes feel I wasn’t alone there…. When I think now, I used to off to these desolate places, alone, never telling anyone where I was…lucky nothing ever happened to me.

There was loads more stuff I could have explored, and didn’t…. too late now, long since been demolished. I was too taken with that mill! All these images were taken using my old Canon FTb, various lenses, and varied film stock…the central one I think was Ektachrome, which had an interesting colour cast (!), and hasn’t aged well…

Anyhow, here’s the valley on a rather grey day:

Ystwyth Valley

Ystwyth Valley

Some mine buildings (the middle building was the staff house, and the one on the right is that dressing mill):

Decaying buildings of the Cwmystwyth mine

Decaying buildings of the Cwmystwyth mine

And the dressing mill in all it’s glory:

Slate Dressing mill, Cwmystwyth mine

Slate Dressing mill, Cwmystwyth mine

See more ‘Y’ here.


  1. There is something endlessly fascinating about these abandoned sites – if you don’t know it already, I recommend Anthony Burton’s ‘Remains of a Revolution’. Great images Sue – could almost be Siberia..

    • Glad you like these…part of a past that cannot be revisited…glad I got to see it when I did. Never been to Siberia (!!), so can’t comment on the likeness! But yes, as a metaphor for another world, that’s apt 🙂

  2. What an interesting valley — almost surreal. Could be a movie site! Thanks for sharing these terrific pictures.

  3. Desolation… who’d even think of Wales looking at these images…?

  4. I was only saying to the OH the other day that we should have a look at Elan Valley, it is supposed to be very picturesque now! Having grown up in mining country (Yorkshire) I always thought these sites were so ugly. Wasn’t into photography then of course 😦

    Your second shot looks like an industrial watercolour – should be framed and in a mining museum.

    • The Elan valley is much more picturesque than this one… I bet you could have got some great images of those pit heads in Yorkshire! Funny thing, how photography makes us see things differently. Also, it’s how confident you are…I was always embarrassed to go around with my camera in places where I lived, or relatives lived. Dunno why really… So I never got my Yorkshire pit head shots!

  5. Fantastic images, Sue. My dad used to work in a coal mine. It was a very hard life.

  6. This valley looks interesting – and lucky you it starts with a “Y”….

  7. hi Sue,
    “…It is reputed that the average age at death of the miners in Cwmystwyth was 32, largely because of acute lead poisoning. There is no longer any active metal mining in the Ystwyth valley.“ P.S.: thanks God, that nowadays no one is forced to work there…

  8. I’d never even heard of this valley, Sue- with either of its spellings! I do remember driving through Blaenau one damp day, long since, and thinking there could be no more depressing landscape in the world.

    • The Ystwyth valley, or at least the part I was showing, is in the centre of Wales, considerably South East of Blaenau, and a gentler landscape….. Blaenau is certainly a depressing scene with all that grey, especially in the rain!


    These are so vivid and interesting, especially #2 ! I would go too. Quite the Y for Frizz.

  10. Fascinating images and back story!

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