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This cache explores Gwaelod-y-Garth, just north of Cardiff, with a theme of "holes". A trail of six micro-caches leads to the final regular cache, close to an amazing viewpoint. You should be prepared for a four mile walk with about 600 feet of ascent. Paths are mainly well defined but are rough, steep, wet or muddy in places. The micro-caches are in a variety of forms - search with an open mind! The regular cache is a medium sized plastic clip-lock box.
Gwaelod-y-Garth was once very different from the village we see today. In the 19th century, there were a number of coal mines, while iron and limestone were mined or quarried from the Lesser Garth to the south. These mineral workings were linked by tramroads and inclines to an iron works, which had 3 blast furnaces, 82 coke ovens and 11 puddling furnaces when it closed. What are some of the 20th century houses built on?
Please park considerately near the co-ordinates given above for the cache, then make your way around the eight stages - six micro-caches, one regular cache and, finally, the return to the starting point. Notes about all stages are given here, but only co-ordinates for the first stage. Co-ordinates for the second stage are in MC1, and so on. There is advice in the regular cache for the return to the start. In some cases, the stage details include intermediate waypoints (IW's), but the use of a 1:25,000 map is still advised. Much of the route is through woodland and this will inhibit GPS reception, particularly at the IW's where it is not too critical. Obviously, this problem will be worse in the summer.
The co-ordinates for the first stage are:
IW1 N51 32.549 W003 16.302
MC1 N51 32.501 W003 16.450
About half way between IW1 and MC1, you will see our first hole (a horizontal one!) off to the right. This was the entrance to Lan drift mine. When this cache was first placed, the area was overgrown but, in 2014, it was cleared, access improved and the brick arch of the entrance converted into a memorial to the 1875 disaster here.
All of the coal seams of the South Wales Coalfield outcrop between the top of Garth Hill and the Gwaelod-y-Garth to Pentyrch road. Between MC1 and MC2, the forest floor is scarred by holes and ditches, the result of shallow working of outcropping coal seams. The holes were bellpits, so called because a narrow shaft at the surface was widened at the coal seam, creating a bell-shaped chamber.
MC4 is on the edge of a crater formed by the collapse of a coal mine adit. The entrance to the mine is just inside the woodland to the south, but is almost completely silted up.
Just after MC4, you enter a little known nature reserve. Just after IW4, look for a pile of moss-covered rocks on the right (in 2004, these were clearly visible: sadly, over time, they have become more overgrown and harder to spot): these are dolomitic limestone, containing red, yellow and black iron minerals and some pretty clusters of quartz crystals. (Just in case you are thinking that this does not fit the theme, remember that most heaps are the product of excavating a hole somewhere!) The path between IW4 and MC5 was a tramroad: you may find some of the stone "chairs" that supported the rails.
MC5 is just above Ffynnon Gruffydd, a calcareous spring - a hole from which fine clear water bubbles. Just after leaving MC5, be very careful crossing the road which seems to double as a race track!
MC6 is near one of the many shafts in this area. Take care if you chose to explore them: the sides can be steep and unstable. Also, these mines descend steeply as they chase mineral rich strata which is typically dipping down at about 45 degrees. Some were vertical shafts going down hundreds of feet and linked by a labyrinth of tunnels to form the Garth Iron Ore Mine – see (visit link)
Shortly before the final regular cache, you will want to pause at the unexpected viewing platform. This spot definitely fits the theme of the cache. But this is not the final hole!
It is possible to find fairly direct routes back to the start, but these can be very steep and slippery and there are old quarries in the area. For this reason, the cache contains a suggested return route, which takes you past a further hole at IW12. This one has a locked steel door on it, as it goes into the mid level of the Garth Iron Ore Mine, which is flooded up to about this level, so there are some extremely deep underground pools inside!
(No hints available.)
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Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum