Llwybr Main: Quarrymen’s ‘narrow path’, Dinorwig quarry
The footpath from the shore of Llyn Peris to the higher levels of the former Dinorwig slate quarry follows the Llwybr Main (narrow path). Countless quarrymen used this route to get to work and to the Anglesey Barracks and other hillside lodgings.
A portion of the lower end of the original path is out of use, but most of the path is still in good condition. The slate walls on both sides gave quarrymen some shelter from the wind as they walked. The path takes a zigzag course between piles of waste rock. The path and the tips each side are shown on the 1888 Ordnance Survey map.
The path’s walls illustrate the skills of the quarry’s masons, who were expert builders of dry stone walls. At the sharp bends on the Llwybr Main, notice how carefully the masons built the curved walls on each side of the path.
Slate benches were built into the walls at intervals for the quarrymen to rest on their way to and from work. The 2021 photo shows one of the curved walls, with Llanberis in the distance.
At the top of the Llwybr Main is the winding house of the A2 incline, along which slate was lowered to Gilfach Ddu. The metal footbridge originally took pedestrians across the busy railway tracks outside the winding house. The tracks led around the shoulder of the hill to the A3 incline and Ponc Victoria (ponc = gallery). You can walk up or down the A3 and A4 inclines, passing the well-preserved A3 winding house.
According to historian Emyr Jones, each week a Llanberis butcher’s errand boy would walk up the Llwybr Main with a basket of meat on the bone for the men who lodged in the barracks during the week to cook lobscows (stew).
Sources include ‘Bargen Dinorwig’ by Emyr Jones, Tŷ ar y Graig 1980.